The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

by Will Eisner

Other authorsUmberto Eco
Book, 2005

Barcode

123458574

Call number

662 EIS

Publication

New York : W.W. Norton, 2006, c2005.

Description

The Plot, which examines the astonishing conspiracy and the fabrication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has become a worldwide phenomenon since its hardcover publication, taught in classrooms around the globe. Purported to be the actual blueprints by Jewish leaders to take over the world, the Protocols, first published in 1902, have become gospel truth to international millions. Presenting a pageant of historical figures from nineteenth-century Russia to today's ideologues, including Tsar Nicholas II, Henry Ford, and Adolf Hitler, Will Eisner unravels and dispels one of the most devastating hoaxes of the twentieth century.

User reviews

LibraryThing member yarmando
Very interesting project, using sequential art storytelling to expose the history of this famous antisemitic hoax.

I identify three sections: the first half lays out the history of how a tract critical of Napoleon III became the source material for an anti-Jewish work commissioned by the Russian
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secret police. I had to read this through twice, because the politics and history are so complicated. Nevertheless, it really does simplify things to have it presented in this format.

The next section lays out the evidence, showing side-by-side comparisons of "Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu" and the "Protocols." What would otherwise be a fairly tedious textual comparison is carried remarkably well by the dialog beneath.

Finally, the book (with sad, ironic humor) shows multiple times through history when various exposés "put an end to the 'Protocols' at last. And we see the weary conclusion: that the "Protocols" is more a symptom of antisemitism than its cause.
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LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Eisner leads you through the history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hate filled document whose echoes are still felt by Jewish people throughout the world. It says a lot about creating smoke so that people believe a fire is behind it and about how it's hard to unsay something.

The
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Protocols cannot be underestimated and they come up regularly. Their persistence is scary but it teaches us a lot about how sometimes things can be accepted unthinkingly by people and how we really need to teach critical thinking in a better manner for our children.

It also made me wonder what other "facts" we have unthinkingly accepted
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LibraryThing member magonistarevolt
After an unfortunate sighting of "The Protocols" at an event, I wanted to be prepared to confront this anti-Semitic reactionary filth whenever I saw it. This book gave me exactly what I needed: a thorough explanation on how this bullshit text came about, and how it spread across the planet.

Created
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by the most reactionary advisors to Csar Nicholas II, The Protocols were a piece of disinformation created to influence him away from Enlightenment principles and back toward the medieval relationship the Csar had towards the Catholic Church and feudal lords. These were supposed to be the meeting minutes of a comparatively harmless congress of Zionists (As atrocious as the current state of affairs is in Isreal, Jewish nationalism was not at that time a threat to anyone...). These advisors took a fairly obscure satirical text about France under Napoleon, a text which implicated Napoleon in undermining French society, made a shoddy translation into Russian, and basically replaced the word Napoleon and Machiavelli with Jew. The dumb Csar, who already hated the Jews, panicked and anti-Jewish pogroms (race riots) swept the country. Csar Nicholas II used royal printing presses to popularize the book.

Conservative and reactionary Russians who fled the country after the fall of the Csar in 1905 brought this text with them all over the world, including the United States. Here, the notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford came upon it, and republished it as fact in a newspaper he ran, in order to undermine worker organizing in his factory. It also made its way into Germany, where another notorious anti-Semite got ahold of it: Adolf Hitler. It thoroughly influenced his thinking, and his mad scheme to unify all of Germany under one state. According to the Protocols, Jews were undermining states worldwide, so Hitler came up with a terrifying solution to how to deal with a non-German population that refused to be assimilated within his state's borders. It was these three men who are responsible for the immense popularity of the text.

Meanwhile, this book has been publicly debunked as a fraud. Many times. It is the great lie that will not die. No matter how thoroughly it is debunked, it lives on in the cover of the dimness of reactionary *ssh*l*s and anti-Semites. Because it never mattered whether it was true. You can trace a thread of anti-Semitism throughout history since Rome, where the Jews were vilified and crucified for being anti-colonial fighters.

Buy or borrow this book (I got it used for $3 including shipping on abebooks.com). Make your friends and family read it. Kill the lie that has been holding back not only Jews, but the liberation of humanity. Don't think so? Reexamine who uses this text: Adolf Hitler, Henry Ford, Csar Nicholas. They all thought that the perpetuation of this book would keep them in power. It's time to bury this embarassing lie.

The book loses a star because it was too short. I want to know much more about the effects of the Protocols. How has the lies perpetuated in The Protocols helped to put in things which are "common knowledge" about Jews (such as that they are bankers who control everything)? How have the Protocols been used recently? If any readers of this review know about a longer-form text that I could read about this topic, please drop a comment below with the book.
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LibraryThing member savageknight
Eisner's novel, summarizing what seems to be an insidious propaganda machine of hate that began in the late 1800s and continues today, is an incredulous tale of something that will note die! His style, storytelling, and pacing is as amazing as always. The subject was (strangely enough - or probably
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a good thing) something I had not heard before (and yes, I'm purposely ignoring it). It did strike me how it continues to prove that humans will believe whatever they wish. Just like the smoking-cancer or addiction connection :) Another Eisner Masterwork.
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LibraryThing member mschaefer
Eisner's tells the story how the infamous protocols of the Elders of Zion was created (plagiarizing a book by Maurice Joly whose goal was an attack on Louis Napolen). Contains detailed excerpts from Joly and the protocol for comparison.
LibraryThing member phoenixseventh
If you enjoy the sharp and blithe pacing and active tone of comic books, you will be disappointed-- this does lack the action of Eisner's typical fare, and he's not as adept at handling historical matters, as, say, Gaiman or Moore. But that understated tone is what helps drive the point of "The
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Plot" home, and because of it, this book may be enjoyed by people who don't normally like comic books.

However, if you are looking for a clear and well-developed criticism of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," made for laypeople, you will most likely enjoy this book. Certainly Eisner is to be commended for telling history in an untraditional way, and using the graphic novel medium to not only provide documentation. The side by side comparisons of "Dialogues in Hell" with "Protocols" was a nice touch, for example.
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LibraryThing member Anome
Eisner puts forward the history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, tracing it back to its roots in political fraud in the 19th century, through the many revivals it underwent in the 20th century. The fact that it has re-appeared time and time again was no doubt Eisner's main concern - it's
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been at the cornerstone of every conspiracy theory from the Final Solution to David Icke's reptillian shape-shifters - and he clearly hopes to show just how ludicrous it all is.

My only regret is that, as a graphic novel, it will not be taken seriously enough.
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LibraryThing member dmcolon
The Plot was Will Eisner's last piece of writing before his death in 2005 and it's a history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That piece has been circulated as "proof" of a Jewish world conspiracy since its publication in the early 20th century. Eisner makes a good effort to show how the
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Protocols are a piece of plagiarism in a way that is understandable and convincing.

It amazes me that these sort of conspiracy theories still persist despite overwhelming evidence to show the fraudulent nature of their very sources. Eisner does a good job showing how these pernicious myths have a way of surviving even the most through debunking, however, so I'm not sure how or when such an event is likely to happen. For its part, though, The Plot does a good job helping out the cause.
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LibraryThing member g026r
There are two ways to look at The Plot: the first is as Eisner's intended summary of scholarly research as to the history and origins of the forgery known as the Protocols. In this case it works, but only sort of. It's a more than a bit shallow — expected, perhaps, given the medium and the fact
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that a surprising chunk of the work is taken up showing how closely the text of the Protocols was lifted from an earlier French work attacking Louis-Napoléon — concentrating on who created it, rather than the circumstances surrounding its creation. It's the sort of thing that anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the forgery's origins will already know, but passable as an introduction for neophytes to the history.

If you already know all these facts, then the second way of looking at it takes priority: as a narrative & graphic work. Since I already knew all the history, this was how I had to primarily evaluate it, and frankly, I can't say it worked for me in this respect. For the most part the book favours a perhaps overly didactic tone, which leaves the people and events that appear on stage as little more than cardboard cut-outs, and it often inserts reproductions of publications or lengthy quotes, which often leaves little room for any art. From a narrative standpoint, I'd say the only parts that work are when Eisner himself steps in as a character and the book moves to a more personal level.

Overall, I can't say I enjoyed it. Sure, it makes a quick summary of the facts behind the forgery, but I never found the scholarly works to be that difficult of reading. All of which leaves it to stand, or rather fall, on its merits as a narrative work.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Brilliant!
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
A graphic-novel history of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that terrible anti-Semitic pamphlet dreamed up by reactionary Russians at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, The Plot attempts to uncover why such a document has been so frequently published and used, when its status as a forgery had
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been demonstrated again and again.

I know very little of comic books and graphic art, so the name Will Eisner does not have that magical ring for me, that it apparently has for some others, and I approached this book with no preconceived idea of the author/artist's skill. Judged solely on its merits as a story, I found The Plot to be an engaging narrative, up until the final section, in which passages from the Protocols and the earlier French work from which it was largely copied - Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu - were presented side by side. While I can certainly understand why Eisner would choose to present these passages for the reader to compare (the Protocols seem lifted almost in their entirety), page after page of direct quotes felt like a rather obvious and cumbersome device, and interrupted the flow of the story.

That small criticism aside, I found this book to be both enlightening and disheartening, and can only applaud the author's attempt to present the truth to the world in such an accessible format. I know that I will be thinking of it for some time, wondering at the seeming indestructibility of anti-Semitism, and the ability of fiction to trump fact...
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LibraryThing member Devil_llama
This graphic novel illustrates the history of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the faked document used for propaganda against the Jews throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. The author researched the topic, and decided to present the history briefly, in graphic novel format, to
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make it accessible to a wider audience. Overall, he was successful. This is not an in depth history, there isn't a lot of minute analysis, but that may actually be a strength in a book of this sort. It is easy to read, and striking. Throughout the narrative, people keep thinking, well it's been exposed, now no one will believe it any more. Still, in the current dialogue, excerpts from this fake document rear up in the strangest places, continuing to stoke hatred of Jews, who have now been inexplicably tied with the Freemasons in their attempt to take over the world. Should be read by everyone, because it's still unfotunately relevant in this supposedly enlightened, post-Holocaust world.
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LibraryThing member asxz
Scholarly look at the origins of the Protocols that seems a little at odds with the graphic format. I'm not sure it entirely works as a graphic novel. Nevertheless, it DOES work as an accessible introduction to the absurd longevity of this nasty piece of Jew-hating propaganda. Eisner never really
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nails down a decent explanation for why the screed survives, but his exasperation is real and it expressed here with humour and honesty.
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LibraryThing member alsatia
Will Eisner's work is an important contribution to the effort to spread the truth about the Protocols...they are a forged nonsense that people use when they want control over others. Think for yourself - that's ultimately the best way to disprove such ridiculous propaganda.
LibraryThing member templebethtorah
Comics giant Will Eisner's last work and first history book, W. W. Norton's edition of The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is worth tracking down.
The work, which includes a foreword by Umberto Eco and an historical afterword by Rutgers political science professor
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Stephen Eric Bronner, is significant less for the story it tells than for the teller and its medium.
Published under many titles, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion purports to outline a plot for world domination developed at an 1897 secret meeting of Jewish leaders. Its author, Mathieu Golovinski, drew heavily on an 1864 French anti-Napoleon III pamphlet Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu by Maurice Joly; according to Eco, other sources include Eugene Sue's Le juif errant and Le mysteres du people and Hermann Goedesche's 1868 Biarritz (which itself plagiarized a critical scene from Alexandre Dumas' 1849 Joseph Balsamo).
Despite Eisner's title, the story of The Protocols is hardly a secret. That the Tsar's secret police – the Okharna – had commissioned the fabrication in 1905 has been public knowledge nearly as long as the forgery has been circulating. That other tyrants – and would-be tyrants – continue to use the forgery to hide their own shortcomings and further their ambitions is also no secret.
The story of the forgery was uncovered by The Times of London – the mouthpiece of the British establishment in those pre-Murdoch days – in May 1920. During the 1930s, courts in Switzerland and South Africa ruled that The Protocols were defamatory and fined local publishers. In 1964, Senators Thomas Dodd of Connecticut and Kenneth Keating of New York, members of the Judiciary Committee's Internal Security Subcommittee, traced the history of The Protocols.
Despite this publicity and judicial action, the libel persists. After the Tsar fell, the White Russian counterrevolutionary émigrés brought the forgery with them into exile. Henry Ford's The International Jew, published in his Dearborn Independent, borrowed heavily from the forgery; it sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. until he was forced to recant under threat of libel suits. Hitler used The Protocols to justify anti-Semitic legislation and suppression of all opposition to the Third Reich. Stalin and Khrushchev used it to justify their pogroms.
More recently, Egyptian television drew on The Protocols in a widely distributed soap opera. Last year, Wal-Mart carried an edition of the forgery at its e-store until pressure from the Anti-Defamation League and other human rights campaigners forced its removal.
The forgery continues to circulate because it provides a simple focus for a group's feelings of powerlessness. Almost-haves in Egypt, Moscow or Orange County are given a cartoonish villain to blame for their frustrated ambitions. Answering this cartoonishness makes The Plot important.
Eisner (who died in January 2005, aged 88) is one of the form's seminal figures. His 1938 The Spirit broke the frame of the 6 panel page. Not only did he vary the size of his panels, but text and action could extend beyond the panel. He laid the ground work on which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would develop their great work at Marvel. His protégés included Jules Feiffer, Bob Kane and Lou Fine.
Forty years after The Spirit, he is credited with inventing the graphic novel. Before his 1978 A Contract with God – which is actually a set of four connected stories – extended storytelling in sequential art was limited to a 16 page form. Working with fewer than 100 frames (on average) a story, artists and writers were tied to simple storylines and flat characterizations. By breaking those limits, Eisner gave Art Spiegelman (Maus), the Pinis (Elfquest), and Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Neverwhere), among others, space to tell more fully developed stories.
In The Plot, he traces the story from Joly to Golovinski to Hitler to the Klan to Russia's neo-tsarist black shirts Pamyat to Hamas to America's Christian Identity movement. Contrapuntally, he follows efforts to expose the forgery, picking up the thread with Phillip Graves' 1921 articles in The Times of London. Within the limits of the story itself, his hand, both as writer and draftsman, is deft, his pacing is cinematic.
Still, The Plot is imperfect. The story Eisner tells is dry and does not easily lend itself to his graphic dynamism: think Classics Illustrated rather than Spiderman. He is forced by the nature of the story itself to be talky rather than active. At the same time, he chose to devote an inordinate number of pages (17 of the text's 122) to a side issue: point-by-point comparison of Joly's Dialogue with The Protocols; the pages could have been used better tracing the connections between the groups who have continued to circulate the forgery. These quibbles aside, though, The Plot is a good note on which to end a stellar career.
Jews, of course, care about this forgery because it attacks us directly; all people of faith need to combat its circulation because by attacking one group on the grounds of its religious identity it diminishes all faith groups. Norton has been pitching The Plot to rabbis and synagogue educators; however, the book needs to be part of the religious education curricula at every church, masjid, ashram and wat in the country as well.
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ISBN

0393328600 / 9780393328608
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