This week, Arsenal Pulp Press is releasing 40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954. The graphic novel comes from French cartoonist Marcelino Truong, and is translated for English readers by David Homel. Set in the early ’50s, the book follows a young Vietnamese painter who is made to join the military. Today The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from the graphic novel.

Here’s how Arsenal Pulp Press describes 40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954:

40 Men and 12 Rifles is an expansive, gripping graphic novel set in Indochina in the year leading up to 1954, when the French-held garrison at Dien Bien Phu fell after a fifty-five-day battle, leading to the end of the first Indochina war opposing both French and Nationalist Vietnamese forces to Ho Chi Minh’s National-Communist underground state. Minh (no relation to Ho) is a young man from Hanoi, an aspiring painter who dreams of experiencing la vie de boheme in Paris’s Latin Quarter. To dissuade him from pursuing an artistic life, his father sends him into the countryside to tend to the family holdings. He is soon pressed into serving with the Ho Chi Minh People’s Army, where he becomes a soldier, and is co-opted by his leaders to the Communist propaganda machine, despite repeatedly defying his cadres – ideological Communist commanders with whom he disagrees – becoming both hero and anti-hero in the process.

40 Men and 12 Rifles is a moving and beautifully illustrated book about the human and artistic spirit of the Indochinese people, who persevered in the face of warfare and suffering.

40 Men and 12 Rifles is the second of two Arsenal Pulp Press releases this week that translate a historically-set graphic novel into English for the first time. Yesterday The Beat presented an excerpt from the other new release, a biography of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Check out the exclusive excerpt of 40 Men and 12 Rifles below. The graphic novel is due out in stores today.