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Are You Willing to Die for the Cause? Revolution in 1960s Quebec

Are You Willing to Die for the Cause? Revolution in 1960s Quebec

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By Chris Oliveros. Published by Drawn & Quarterly. 

Hardcover, 168 pages, Colour, 2023.

A deep dive into a contentious and dramatic period in Canadian history—the rise of a militant separatist group whose effects still reverberate today.

It started in 1963, when a dozen mailboxes in a wealthy Montreal neighborhood were blown to bits by handmade bombs. By the following year, a guerilla army training camp was set up deep in the woods, with would-be soldiers training for armed revolt. Then, in 1966, two high school students dropped off bombs at factories, causing fatalities. What was behind these concerted, often bungled acts of terrorism and how did they last for nearly eight years?

In Are You Willing To Die For The Cause? Quebec-born cartoonist Chris Oliveros sets out to dispel common misconceptions about the birth and early years of a movement that, while now defunct, still holds a tight grip on the hearts and minds of Quebec citizenry and Canadian politics. There are no initials more volatile in Quebec history than F-L-Q. Standing for the Front de libération du Québec (or in English, the Quebec Liberation Front).The original goal of this socialist movement was to fight for workers rights of the French majority who found their rights trampled on by English bosses. The goal became ridding the province of its English oppression by means of violent revolution.

Using dozens of obscure and long-forgotten sources, Oliveros skillfully weaves a comics oral history where the activists, employers, politicians, and secretaries piece together the sequence of events. At times humorous, other times dramatic, and always informative, Are You Willing To Die For The Cause? shines a light on just how little it takes to organize dissent and who people trust to overthrow the government.

“Chris Oliveros’s Are You Willing to Die for the Cause? takes on the improbable, chaotic, rag-tag origins of the FLQ in Quebec in the 1960s. With cartooning that is at once charming, humorous and gritty, Oliveros captures the people behind this movement that began with noble ideas and descended into tragedy with high-school students delivering hand-made bombs between classes. Oliveros reconstructs these wild true events by recreating—in splendid and simple details—the street corners and tiny apartments and young revolutionaries involved. He reveals Montreal in the 1960s in all its dreamy, working class squalor and glory.”—Heather O’Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads

"Meticulously researched and beautifully delivered... Oliveros reveals fascinating details of a group that, depending on which side you find yourself on politically, was either a ragtag team of terrorists or well-intentioned freedom fighters."—Toula Drimonis, author of We, the Others

“Chris Oliveros is the most under-appreciated master-cartoonist of the last 40 years. With this new graphic novel—brilliantly told and beautifully drawn—that should all be about to change.”—Seth, author of Clyde Fans

"An engaging introduction to a fascinating historical and cultural flashpoint."Kirkus Reviews

“Oliveros has crafted a beautifully drawn, gripping graphic novel about a volatile moment in Quebec History as seen through the perspective of an English Montrealer."—Michel Hellman, author of Mile End

"Assembled from oral histories and forgotten sources, Oliveros’s latest will be essential reading for history buffs and graphic novel aficionados alike."Quill & Quire

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