Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 48

Eagle: The Making Of An Asian-American President

by Kaiji Kawaguchi
Genre notes: politics, thriller, drama, melodrama
5 vols
ISBN: 1569314756 (Amazon)

You may call me a bit of a cynic—and you would be correct in that estimation. So what’s a guy like me doing pretty thoroughly enjoying a book like Eagle: The Making Of An Asian-American President—a book that in many ways is a celebration (or fetishization) of the American electoral process?

Honestly, part of it is novelty. The bare concept alone is interesting: 2264 pages following a candidate’s campaign from the lead-up to the Democratic National Convention all the way through to the results of the Presidential Election—but written by a Japanese creator for a Japanese audience. Seeing how an outsider views and understands and interprets something that remains mysterious even to many Americans is a treasure of cross-cultural appreciation. When he mythologizes Texas, through heavy play on ranchers and late-night T-bones as big as your head, you can see where he’s coming from. When he follows a trail into the sordid realm of labour union politics, American readers may well wonder how closely the author’s original audience could relate (what with the differences in American and Japanese business ethics and practices). And when the book’s candidate-of-choice, Kenneth Yamaoka, a third-gen Japanese-American senator (D-NY) is confronted by some of the racial difficulties that confronted Obama, you wonder how much it hurt to write those sentiments and how much author Kawaguchi was able to empathize with the more hateful elements he had to portray.

Eagle's subtitle (The Making of an Asian-American President) is interesting because you’re pretty sure that Kawaguchi is giving away the whole bag of cookies at the outset. While reading, there may be some doubt in the occasional reader as to the author’s destination, but as the story unfolds, presidential hopeful Yamaoka unveils to be perhaps the ultimate Mary Sue. There is no obstacle that he will not overcome—no scandal that will not either fade from memory instantly or turn out somehow to work in the anointed man’s favour. It might be annoying if Yamaoka was ever really the point of the book. But he’s not.

Kawaguchi’s primary interest seems almost wholly concerned with exploring what it takes to become president of the United States. And since someone is undoubtedly going to become president, for Kawaguchi’s purpose, it hardly matters who. He just needs readers to willingly tag along for the ride—most likely to see just how crazy a ride it actually is.

+ there's a lot of soap-operatic elements for those who get their thrills there.

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