Speechless – World History without Words

By Polyp (New Internationalist/Friends of the Earth International)
ISBN: 978-1-906523-19-0

No one can contest the sheer naked power and immediacy of pictures; a sequential narrative can have all the force of a Perfect Storm. Hopefully this startlingly bold pictorial treatise from the enigmatic Polyp (www.polyp.org.uk) will shake a few entrenched bastions and rattle some cages as it offers an alternative view of our progress as a species, using the monstrous tragedy of 9/11 as a starting point before scrolling back the very beginning to show how it all went so wrong.

In vivid primary colours the creator takes a jaundiced look at our 6 billion year relationship with the planet and the mistakes we keep on making, using wry, surreal wit, patient exasperation and not a little frantic desperation, as well as a bold cartoony style that blends a thousand childhood influences from Vaughn Bode to the Clangers, to whisper a warning and offer a few potentially last-minute suggestions.

As it says on the cover this book eschews words in favour of a broad humorous parade of “dumb-show” and mime: a brave and marvellously effective technique that really pays off. And besides, as a species we’ve been talking a good fight for ages and we’re now at a stage where words simply aren’t enough any more…

The old adage has it that history is written by the winners, but in this graphic exploration on how the world got into its current state we have a sharp, incisive and universal tome produced for those of us that have always demanded a recount. Buy this book. Give copies to your friends. But most of all read, inwardly digest and just do something…

© Paul Fitzgerald 2009. All rights reserved.