The Ballad of Abu Ghraib, an open question

I’ve just added the Penguin Non-Classics cover for The Ballad of Abu Ghraib, and am curious to hear your thoughts on it. I find it timeless and wonderful, with a gravity rarely seen on the shelf. It is generic in its treatment in the same way that a Tschichold template is generic. Solid, well balanced, impactful. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if someone pointed out that this was an obvious reference to an older cover. Fire away, if so.

What’s your take?

June 24th, 2009 by Pieratt

7 Responses to “The Ballad of Abu Ghraib, an open question”

  1. If I saw this on the shelf, I’d pick it up. If it inspires me, it does so by my imagining of what it took to have this cover selected w/o a picture of Abu Ghraib. It works.

  2. Mark Melnick says:

    I do love this, and responded to it right away. Hyper-simple but effective. No idea if it’s referencing anything in the Penguin past, but I would bet not. The new title, though, is odd … Kind of a strange subject to interject wit … “Standard Operating Procedure” was very literal and very effective, in my opinion.

  3. Estelle says:

    I think this style of cover consciously references Penguin’s low-key, classical cover design approach in such a way to interpellate Penguin readers no matter what kind of titles they usually pick up. It’s incredibly immediate, classical, appropriate, balanced. I respond to this type of cover much more strongly than I do one that’s heavily image-based. Don’t know backlist covers well enough to say whether it’s a definite reference to another cover, but I love it. And I think it works with Gourevitch’s Atticus Finch-level standing as an author.

  4. I’m not in love with the new title (maybe someone thought that putting “Abu Ghraib” in the title would sell more copies), but I did notice that the hardcover jacket used the same colors (black, white, and orange).

    I do like this cover, though. And one thing that just occurred to me is that neither of the covers makes any reference to the film that was released in conjunction with the book. I had the impression that they were companion pieces (although I could be mistaken).

  5. Correction: the hardcover jacket uses red, not orange (if the cover image on can be trusted).

  6. Strong, forceful, almost newspaper headline-like. It says what it needs to say without the gimmicks of using photos of detainees or prisoners etc.

  7. EJ says:

    Ballad? A book of songs?
    One author or two?

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