When Harvey Pekar died in 2010, he left behind a book-length collaboration with illustrator JT Waldman called Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Israel, which was in process at the time of Pekar's death, is a rarity in Pekar's body of work, which is mostly interested in anecdotes and the quotidian details of his life as a file clerk in Cleveland. Instead, it's a book-length exploration of a global topic that starts with autobiography and expands out to one of the most important issues of our time: The history and ethics of Israel as a global force. The book was recently released in paperback, and with current events being what they are, it's even more important than it was at the time of its publication.

Pekar begins with the personal: He's an atheist Jew, and he recalls his parents' elated response when Israel was founded. Like most children, he takes his parents' word as law. And like most people, he wrestles with their judgment as he becomes an adult. The kind of adult Pekar becomes, too, is an important part of the book: He's against nationalism, pacifistic, and intellectual. He's not anti-Israel by any means, but he does have some pretty strong words for some of Israel's actions.

Israel is an excellent book for people looking for a resource about the history of the region. He and Waldman intersperse the commentary with the history of the Jewish people. Waldman's artwork is beautiful and stylistically diverse: The passages telling the earliest story of the Jewish people is illustrated in crude tile, as though it was found on the wall of an ancient temple. As the history becomes clearer and more sophisticated, so does the artwork, adopting the art style of the time Pekar is describing. Parts of the history are drawn like they're tapestries, and as the modern day approaches things get more and more photorealistic. As a final work, Israel stands as an excellent example of Pekar's mastery of comics, and possibly his most fully-realized narrative.