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Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv

Review

Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv

written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem with illustrations by Koren Shadmi

It is April 2003, American journalist Jack Baxter’s last day in Tel Aviv, and he and young filmmaker Joshua Faudem are celebrating the completion of their documentary about Mike’s Place, a western-style bar that prides itself on a conversational policy of “no politics.” Jack is getting ready to fly back to the States to be with his wife, Fran, and begin the finishing touches on his film. Minutes before he’s about to get a cab, there is an altercation with the bar’s bouncer --- a patron who unsuccessfully tried to enter the bar screams the words, “ALLAHU AKBAR!” and detonates the explosives he has attached to his body, unleashing death and carnage all over Mike’s Place. 

MIKE’S PLACE by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem with illustrations by Koren Shadmi tells the true story of this terrorist attack. Jack Baxter was blown through the front window of the bar, but miraculously, he survived. Three other civilians in the bar that night --- two patrons and waitress Dominique Hess --- were not so lucky. After Jack emerged from a coma with life-threatening injuries, he and Joshua repurposed the documentary to reflect their experiences.  The film, Blues by the Beach, serves as the inspiration for MIKE’S PLACE, and the result is nothing shy of exceptional.

Nothing shy of exceptional...A brilliant collaboration of quality writing and beautiful black and white drawings.

A brilliant collaboration of quality writing and beautiful black and white drawings, MIKE’S PLACE should certainly be on the shelves of every high school and public library.The illustrations by award-winning artist Koren Shadmi capture the subtle nuances of the tensions leading up to the tragedy. As graphic artist Jeff Smith (BONES) says, ” this is the golden age of graphic novels” and the format makes this important story appealing to a wider audience, teens and adults alike. 

Although the tragedy did not destroy Mike’s Place --- the bar rebuilt and even expanded to other locations --- it did take some lives and change others. The epilogue at the end of the novel gives updated information about the investigation of the bombing. 

MIKE’S PLACE is one of the rare examples of a story that is both personal and informative, dealing with the real-world issues afflicting the Middle East and beyond.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on August 26, 2015

Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv
written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem with illustrations by Koren Shadmi

  • Publication Date: June 9, 2015
  • Genres: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: First Second
  • ISBN-10: 1596438576
  • ISBN-13: 9781596438576