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Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel Hardcover – December 23, 2008


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Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel + The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation + The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 9
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (December 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061561762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061561764
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—This comic-style adaptation of a pivotal moment in U.S. history does a capable job of capturing the people, place, and portent of Civil War-era Gettysburg. The book begins with three edifying spreads: a map of the area, a cast of characters, and a prologue. Butzer then proceeds to the battle, its aftermath, and Lincoln's famous address. Some bold images—a slow rain of cannonballs, a solitary corpse on the battlefield—enliven the gray-toned art. The author/illustrator also made the interesting choice to position portions of the text over images of a chronological progression of civil rights issues, beginning with slavery and including the fight for the rights of women, Native Americans, gays, and more. The story, itself rather brief, is supported by substantial end materials. Extensive author's notes detail the many sources used for research, and the text of the Gettysburg Address is included. It's unfortunate that this useful information wasn't integrated into the main body of the book; it's a lost opportunity to take advantage of the graphic medium. Otherwise, this work serves as a solid introduction to this historically significant event.—Douglas P. Davey, Halton Hills Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It’s a good bet that middle-grade readers have heard of the Gettysburg Address, it being one of American history’s most recognizable terms. But what are the chances that they know what Gettysburg was, or who the address was to, or why it was taking place? Starting with Civil War battle scenes that showcase the fury of battle with a terrifying immediacy and moving through to Lincoln’s address itself, first-time author/illustrator Butzer brings home the sentiment behind the history-making cemetery dedication with a substance and reality that is both necessary and very timely. Combining words from actual letters of the time with accessible and expressive art, he introduces young readers to the idea that they may owe something to those who sacrificed all they had for democracy. Lend more weight to these themes by recommending this alongside The Murder of Abraham Lincoln (2005) by Rick Geary or The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation (2006) by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. Includes an author’s note and bibliography. Grades 4-8. --Jesse Karp

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on November 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
About halfway through Gettysburg, a photographer arrives to record the aftermath of the battle. "Such a picture conveys a useful moral," he muses, as he focuses on a body lying on the battlefield. "It shows the blank horror and reality of war, in opposition to its pageantry."

The same could be said of Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel. War is often spoken of in terms of great masses of soldiers advancing, retreating, or flanking the enemy. C. M. Butzer brings the battle down to the atomic level, showing individual soldiers fighting in the woods, charging with bayonets drawn, and staring up, dumbstruck, as a cannonball hurtles down upon them from the sky. And he does not flinch from the horrors of war; after the battle, he shows bodies scattered on the battlefield and a soldier nonchalantly carrying an armload of amputated arms and legs.

In just 80 pages, Butzer sets the scene, depicts the battle and its aftermath, and shows the movement to create a national cemetery on the site, as well as Lincoln writing his speech and the ceremony at Gettysburg.

This is a lot of material, and the first half of the book is too compressed. The initial skirmish at Gettysburg is over with in three pages, and the action is hard to follow. The generals speak in sound bites and then disappear. We catch a brief glimpse of a field hospital, a short exchange with the governor of Pennsylvania, a snatch of conversation among the cemetery planners. Butzer compensates for this with copious notes in the back of the book, in which he fully explains each scene and adds more historical details. This makes interesting reading, but it would have been even better if it had been integrated more fully into the narrative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Russo on February 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
As both a civil war buff and comic book junky, I often wondered why a product like this had never been created (I suppose it takes the bicentennial of Lincoln's birthday to motivate the publishing community).
I found the book gave an interesting perspective on the battle itself, which surprised me given the amount of media previously dedicated to the event (the Gettysburg motion picture and several made for TV renditions). The difference was the author's ability to let the reader inside the minds of the characters, similar to a novel, while the artwork allowed one to sit back and enjoy the action.
My only criticism is that i would have liked to have seen this expanded into a several part series, instead of just one publication.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AdamEye on February 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
As someone who picked up this book, not because of a curiosity about Lincoln, but because of an appreciation for the graphic novel as a medium, I was pleasantly surprised: C.M. Butzer's skill as a storyteller is readily apparent and lends itself wonderfully to the task of relating an important slice of history to young readers. Throughout, Butzer's compositional choices speak to a creator who is well versed in the tradition of the medium and, that this book was produced for a young audience belies the sophistication it is imbued with. My only complaint is similar to reviewer B. Russo's: I would like to see Mr. Butzer bring his formidable talents to bear and stretch his legs on a lengthier project.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. M. O'Hara on January 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Call me a Yankee, but I feel that Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel is a subtle and beautifully drawn depiction of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address that followed it. Butzer is a talented artist, but he does not present a simplistic version of history. This is a taste of war, appropriate for pre-teens while not hiding the grim realities of battle.

The text is drawn from letters and first-person accounts, and the images reference historical photographs of the events. The notes that accompany the drawings are an integral part of this book and one of its most important elements--the detailed references should give young readers a starting point for further research.

This book will not appeal to Southern apologists: it does not hide its pro-Lincoln bias nor its reliance on historical sources. It successfully suggests a subtle reading of history--for example, Lincoln's quiet (cough) before scattered applause suggests the quiet acceptance of the address itself.

This short, accessible graphic novel about one battle of the Civil War is a visually appealing introduction to a contentious period in American history. Butzer's interpration of the Gettysburg Address, both romantic and modern, is beautiful and moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CRowley on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The second half of this book is really great. Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg is complemented with emotionally powerful illustrations. I want to use this part of the book in a lesson in my classroom. The first half of the book, where it actually depicts the Battle of Gettysburg, is a bit blah. A few images are powerful, but the text is a little boring.
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Format: Paperback
GETTYSBURG: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is almost exactly what it proposes itself to be: a graphic-novel account of the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath, culminating with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

It's obvious that Butzer has done his research on this one, as you can see if you flip to his bibliography at the back, but I kept wishing that this research could have been presented in a manner that would be easier to understand. Even with a decent knowledge of the Civil War's political and historical climate, the first several pages of Butzer's account were difficult to follow, long on images and short on explanatory text. The author/illustrator appears to have foreseen this complaint, and has included in the back of the book a panel-by-panel discussion of the historical background for each page of the comic, but I kept wanting that information to be made available to me on the same page as the images.

The narration picks up after the battle has ended and the Union must care for its sick and wounded; from here on, Butzer's arresting visual narrative is bolstered by quoting from the journals and letters of people who were actually present, including a local nurse and the photographer sent to document the battlefield carnage.

I will say this for Butzer: the images themselves are beautiful. Rendered in black, white, and a gray-blue reminiscent of both Union and Confederate uniforms, these drawings capture the atmosphere of Gettysburg before and after the battles with the same harsh clarity as famous photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, some of whose original prints from Gettysburg are reproduced by Butzer as drawings.
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