Treachery, Deceit and Assassinations Essential Elements of DEMOCRACY

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Democracy Graphic Novel Critical Blast Bloomsbury

In 490BC, in the early hours of the morning before the Athenian will go to war with the Persians, Leander recounts his life up to that point, and how he not only came to be where he is, but how all of Athens arrived at this point. It's a story of political intrigues, assassinations, and behind-the-scenes manipulation of information and advice, a morass of dirty tricks and dirty politics, all with the goal of slipping an idea into the consciousness of the masses: Democracy.

Leander's story starts when he is a younger man, just beginning to take on responsibilities in his father's business. At a political meeting held by the brothers Hippias and Hipparchus ends in bloodshed and the assassination of Hipparchus, the people react accordingly, assuming a rebellion is at hand. The DEMOCRACY creative team of Alecos Papadatos and Abraham Kawa put forward that there may have been another reason for Hipparchus' killing, but that the event was taken advantage of by Cleisthenes.

Leander's work in the archives for the temple put him in the right place to begin solving mysteries, and to observe how Cleisthenes subtly alters the prophecies from the Oracle of Delphi, bribing the priests to give the messages he wanted given, to push Sparta into a war with Athens and overthrow the tyrant Hippias.

While the writings of Herodotus, Thucydides, or Aeschylus (who unofficially appears as one of the characters in this graphic novel) may be too dry or too laden with historical trivia to be accessible to a modern audience, Papadatos and Kawa's presentation of these actions through a graphic novel bridges all the gaps, putting ancient historical traditions and mores into the context of the tale in such a fashion that they become relevant to the story and easily grasped by the reader. As such, the index of characters that follows the tale becomes an interesting "fill in the gaps" bit of reading, rather than the "here's what you need to know about these characters before you begin reading" kind of thing that is usually a warning sign. (The fact that the writers put this information after the story rather than before it shows that they had the confidence that their storytelling had already told you what you needed to know about the participants and places.)

A wholly engrossing story of the origin of a system of government, told through deceit, manipulation, and blood, DEMOCRACY will not only give you an understanding of how Democracy was first proposed, but will also keep your attention throughout the tale. High marks all around for combining education and entertainment flawlessly.

5.0 / 5.0