In virtually every military conflict in recorded history animals have fought—and often died—alongside their human counterparts. While countless stories of the men and women who’ve served in the trenches, jungles, and deserts of the world’s battlefields have been told, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat shares the stories of the animals who fought alongside them.
From Hannibal’s elephants in ancient Rome to mine-sniffing rats in Vietnam and everything in between, Four-Fisted Tales highlights the real-life contributions of these underappreciated animal warriors. Whether in active combat or simply as companions, these animals served and made their mark on history.
“Four-Fisted Tales brings you animal stories you had no idea you needed! From time immemorial to the Gulf War and beyond, each animal, each story makes you say, What? No way! All brought to vivid life by the artistry of Ben Towle!” —Jeff Smith, writer and illustrator of Bone
“They had no choice and sadly neither did the majority of the men who fought. Despite the battle being a human one we would have known no victory without the support of the animals.” —David Backhouse, designer and sculptor of the Animals In War monument, Park Lane, London
“Four-Fisted Tales is a stellar graphic history whose art is exemplary, capturing action, humor, and poignancy alike.” —Foreword Reviews
“A fun and amazingly informative graphic novel I found hard to put down, Four-Fisted Tales is chock full of fascinating stories about animals that have fought–and died–alongside soldiers throughout history, all complemented beautifully by Ben Towle's classic Roy Crane-esque cartooning.” —Jake Tapper, CNN anchor
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Average rating from 16 members
This was so lovely! It was a super simple, enjoyable read with some really cool and interesting animal facts that I'm definitely going to bring up at any parties I go to in the future. I think this book will be especially impactful to younger audiences; while I was reading it I could see a younger me getting obsessed with the animals in this book and just wanting to learn more and more about them. The artwork also definitely helps in this sense as well as it is beautiful and understandable for all ages! I would definitely recommend this to everyone as I think every person would love this little book and its contents!
Starting with a vignette about US soldiers in WWI France using jars of glow worms as a light source, this is purely designed to show us the range of animals used in the field of war. The first standard-length chapter concerns a US Civil War soldier convinced he's being involved in a prisoner swap that shows him in great light – only to find it's actually a dog with a miraculous spirit for survival that's going the other way in exchange for him. Next is a light-hearted survey of naval ship's cats, followed by a look at dolphins, and it's only the semi-fictionalised halfway house of pieces like this that will put readers off this book. This wanted to be both a listicle of dolphin use by the US Navy, and something that has something to dramatise, and is therefore stuck in the middle in an ungainly fashion. But we have stirring dramas elsewhere to make this really well worth a look, such as Satan, a dog who sent messages and more across a field of war where seven men had failed previously, and therefore got a small troop of trapped men out of danger. Yet for me the best thing here was the surprising element – the use of Pavlovian seagulls to indicate submarines, and so on. I guess some people would add the monochrome nature of these pages to the turn-offs, but I didn't mind, and found it fully suiting; the other aspects to the visual representation are all fine. What this boils down to, then, is a big success – despite the clumsiness it has at times in knowing how much to fictionalise, and some less-than-clear wordless sections, it's a book full of the unusual and unexpected, and probably sits on a very small shelf of similar books. The fact it fills such a niche so well only helps me hold it in high regard. Four and a half Dickin Medals.