8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2007
Jim Lewin and P.J. Huff have collaborated in the past on other works, but this may be their best effort to date. In this new book from Collins (ISBN 006113788X), they take a fresh look at the political turmoil of the Civil War through the eyes of the satirists and political cartoonists of the era, drawing heavily upon contemporary sketches, woodcuts, and drawings from a myriad host of political commentators of the era. They reproduce scores of old cartoons from the pages of such once famous publications as Vanity Fair, Harper's Weekly, and Leslie's Illustrated. As would be expected (and similar to today's political satirists), a large number of the illustrations deal with President Lincoln and his war policies, with few cartoonists in support of his goals and philosophies. They poke fun of his appearance, his leadership, and his course of action, much like modern cartoonists rip the current president and other leading politicians of both parties.
Lewin and Huff have assembled a delightful collection of period cartoons, an assortment that conveys the artists' opinions and emotions as to the course of the war, the state of the country (both North and South), and they portray the social, cultural, and political climate in a way that few other books have to date. At 224 pages profusely illustrated with period political cartoons, this book is a winner. It is a worthy addition to the body of literature dealing with America at war with itself.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2008
A fascinating look at the era from just prior to the Civil War to just after the death of Abe Lincoln through the eyes of some of the best political cartoons of the day.
I found it an easy and revealing read. The book separates the era into six chapters. Generally in chronological order. One page reprints the original cartoon which you view and read. The ajoining page has a revealing, historical explanation crammed with backround trivia and exposes the importance of each hidden symbol and referenced person in view. I can't emphasize how wonderful I thought think this concept is in teaching the Civil War to anyone that wants a overview in quick concise terms that they'll never forget. I recommend it for classrooms both high school and college to get discussions started as some of the cartoons would never be printable by today's standards of the censored liberal press.
It is a very revealing book about how Lincoln was viewed at the time. It shows he was not thought of in the high regard like what we think of him now.
There are many cartoons in this book that can be seen to parallel our current situation in Iraq as well as the political campaign of 2008.
The cartoon on the cover is from Harper's Weekly, (Nov. 26 1864)just after the election of 1864. It's entitled "LONG ABRAHAM LINCOLN A LITTLE LONGER". To show you the insight that accompanies each cartoon, here is the read that goes along with it:
"Lincoln won the reelection in a landslide. For the first time since 1836, the country thought enough of its president to give him more than one term.
Lincoln captured 55 percent of the popular vote and carried all but three states: New Jersey, Kentucky and Delaware. In the Army, where it had been expected that McClellan would be strong, Lincoln actually took 80 percent of the vote.
The country wanted the war completed, but it wanted it on Lincoln's terms: restoration of the Union and abolition of slavery. It wanted Lincoln to finish the job."
Thomas Nast's most famous Civil War political cartoon "Compromise with the South" (Harper's Weekly, Sept. 3 1864) is also reprinted on page 160 with a wonderful explanation of the sybolism on the ajoining page 161. Voting for a Democrat, was according to Nast, equivalent to a compromise with the South.