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Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography    by Chester Brown order for
Louis Riel
by Chester Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Drawn & Quarterly, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I studied Canadian history for at least one year quite a long time ago, I have only vague recollections of Louis Riel, so looked forward to this book. It tells the rebel's tale (with a distinctly partisan flavor) in a graphic format, that's reminiscent of Hergé's Tintin comicbooks.

It's the story of the charismatic leader of a downtrodden people (the Métis, of mixed Indian and French-Canadian ancestry who settled in what is now Manitoba and Saskatchewan) with a great deal of justice on their side and long-held grievances against the government. There are politicians who manipulate events and leave long trails of broken promises behind them, as well as the sort of misunderstandings that happen easily across the distances (geographical and cultural) involved. There are battles and betrayals. And there is Riel himself, a young idealist - elected to Parliament three times but unable to take his seat because of bounties on his head - who later becomes a madman with a mission, leads the 1885 Rebellion, and is eventually (and many feel unjustly) hung.

I don't recall enough history to know how close the author stayed to the facts, but any way you look at it, it's an exciting presentation, that made me want to find out more about this period of Canadian history.

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