, before the Cat in the Hat
, before Little Cindy-Lou Who
(but after Mulberry Street
), Dr. Seuss
(Theodor Geisel) made his living as a political cartoonist for New York newspaper PM
. Seuss drew over 400 cartoons in just under two years for the paper, reflecting the daily's New Deal liberal slant. Starting in early 1941, when PM
advocated American involvement in World War II, Seuss savaged the fascists with cunning caricatures. He also turned his pen against America's internal enemies--isolationists, hoarders, complainers, anti-Semites, and anti-black racists--and urged Americans to work together to win the war. The cartoons are often funny, peopled with bowler-hatted "everymen" and what author Art Spiegelman
calls "Seussian fauna" in his preface. They are also often very disturbing--Seuss draws brutally racist images of the Japanese and even attacks Japanese Americans on numerous occasions. Perhaps most disturbing is the realization that Seuss was just reflecting the wartime zeitgeist.
Dr. Seuss Goes to War marks the first time most of these illustrations have appeared in print since they were first published. Richard H. Minear's introduction and explanatory chapters contextualize the 200 editorial cartoons (some of whose nuances might otherwise be lost on the modern reader). Those who grew up on Seuss will enjoy early glimpses of his later work; history buffs will enjoy this new--if playful and contorted--angle on World War II. --Sunny Delaney
From Library Journal
Few fans of Dr. Seuss's whimsy are likely to be aware that before authoring The Cat in the Hat Theodor Seuss Geisel penned editorial cartoons for the New York daily PM. This new collection presents approximately half the newspaper cartoons that Geisel drafted for the pro-New Deal paper from the start of 1941 (when his main targets were the isolationists who opposed U.S. intervention in European and Asian affairs) until 1943 (when he accepted a commission in the U.S. Army). Minear (history, Univ. of Massachusetts) has done a fine job of selecting, arranging in thematic order, and providing historical commentary for these cartoons, which are full of Geisel's expected visual wit; seeing the early development of his eccentric animal menagerie is a special treat. As Art Spiegelman notes in his introduction, Geisel's Uncle Sam seems to have been practice for what would become the Cat in the Hat. "The prototype for the cat's famous headgear is actually...Uncle Sam's red-and-white-striped top hat! The Cat in the Hat is America!" writes Spiegelman. Recommended for larger libraries.AKent Worcester, Marymount Manhattan Coll., New York
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