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The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation Paperback – June 25, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hennessey deconstructs the phrases composing President Lincoln’s brief memorial speech and uses each one to explore the many complicated cultural and political components of the American Civil War. McConnell’s detailed and highly textured art expands and supports the text by showing the variety of class-based, racial, and historical perspectives creating the mismatched lenses through which Americans view their own history, along with helpful maps and comparative presentations of changed landscapes. Without being didactic or overwhelming, this stellar nonfiction graphic novel shows the challenges of nation building and maintenance in a place and time where technology, economics, and social theory are all undergoing rapid growth and facing considerable resistance. Instead of deifying Lincoln as either an author or an orator, the creators of this work present a thoroughgoing study of the complexity of his brief battlefield speech. A star follow-up to the team’s The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation (2008). --Francisca Goldsmith

Review

An excellent work. … Not a simplification but a detailed and nuanced analysis of Lincoln’s famous speech” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Engaging, provocative and deftly nuanced. ... This second collaboration by Hennessey and McConnell again finds them probing the implications of history through incisive analysis and compelling art.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Aaron McConnell’s illustrations are brilliant in their effectiveness of depicting complex themes and ideas in discernable ways. The style is reminiscent of the political cartoons of yore and his use of iconography is clever and informative.” (Chris Wilson, The Graphic Classroom)

Praise for The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation:“The coolest thing since Schoolhouse Rock.” (Rachel Maddow)

“A sweet, quick, thoroughgoing history of the U.S. Constitution . . . You’d be hard-pressed to find a better primer for bringing the kids, foreigners and forgetful in your life up to speed.” (Cory Doctorow)

“Intelligently written, lushly illustrated . . . Hennessey interweaves the Framers’ intent with contemporary battles over constitutional law, while McConnell colors history with masterful strokes. A civics lesson no one should miss.” (Village Voice (A Best Book of 2008))

“Avoiding the didactic, the book succeeds in being both consistently entertaining and illuminating . . . A fine introduction to U.S. legal history.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Before Obama is sworn in as the next U.S. president in January, let Hennessey and McConnell’s The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation be your refresher course.” (Charles Moss, PopMatters)

“[A] must-read graphic novel treatment of the history, meaning and evolution of the United States Constitution. It should be a staple of every high school history class.” (Jonathan Valania, Phawker)

“We the people can now appreciate our nation’s founding document unpacked into easy-to-follow explanations enriched with stick-in-your-mind visuals . . . A surprising and effective accomplishment; highly recommended for all collections. Buy multiples for kids, teens, and adults.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

“A stellar nonfiction graphic novel. ... McConnell’s detailed and highly textured art. ... shows the variety of class-based, racial, and historical perspectives creating the mismatched lenses through which Americans view their own history.” (Booklist)

“A very nuanced historical argument…” (Slate Political Gabfest)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061969761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061969768
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Can't imagine your life without fiction? Can't imagine your life without nonfiction? Then you're a lot like me. I often find nothing more entertaining than some scrupulously researched historical account; and no better learning experience than a thoroughly made-up-from-whole-cloth story.

So I read (and write) both -- often in deep dives into the fascinating backgrounds of everyday people and everyday things. And I marvel constantly at the many ways how writing efforts in one genre inspire, sharpen, and elevate the quality of work in the other. Whatever knack for storytelling I might be said to have makes my books on history like The U.S. Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation more captivating, engaging, and accessible. And at the same time, I plow the best of the best of my research discoveries into the characters, settings, themes, and scenarios of my narrative material. If you check out my time-travel-turned-inside-out epic, Epochalypse, I hope you'll agree you would have to look pretty hard for a more fully realized and diverse milieu in the time travel story universe.

I was born to a military family on a U.S. Army base in New England and raised, like many, in a town steeped in American history. This I only came to fully appreciate as an adult when I came boomeranging back to an interest in politics, actual people, and the real world after an extended, hazy interregnum of fantasy novels, gaming, comic books, video games, and anime. When not writing or reading I'm heavily into cycling (preferably for transportation or travel rather than speed), films, hunting for seasonal waterfalls in the nearby California foothills (with or without a pocket full of podcasts), chasing down hard to find craft sodas, or swooning over vintage graphic design in some slightly downtrodden but capacious Midwestern antique mall.

Find out more at jonathanhennessey.com, where you can join an email list for respectfully infrequent and non-invasive updates about new projects and releases.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
At the outset, I should confess that I am not a reader of graphic novels. Indeed, The Gettysburg Address by Jonathan Hennessy (writer) and Aaron McConnell (artist) is the first one I have ever read from cover to cover, let alone with any enjoyment. I am, however, a lover of all things Lincoln, so in the sesquicentennial of his address, I resolved to purchase and read this graphic novel.

A graphic novel has to be reviewed into parts: the substance of the writing and the form of the art. Let me start with the latter. Aaron McConnell has done a superb job illustrating the Jonathan Hennessy's text. As an avid reader of text-only books, I worried that the graphics might get in the way of the text. In fact, they enhanced it. One example, on page 22: Early in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln appointed general after general to lead the Union armies, each of whom he replaced when they didn't do an adequate job. A text-only approach would spend hundreds of words to explain what McConnell shows in a single picture: four Union generals marching through a revolving door. Brilliant! My only complaint is that in several frames, where Hennessy quotes historical documents, he uses a cursive type script that was hard to read, at least for me. (See Robert E. Lee's letter on page 26, for example.)

That brings me to the substance of Jonathan Hennessy's writing. What Hennessy does is use the words of the Gettysburg Address to organize a historical brief of the historical forces that led to the Civil War, reached critical mass at Gettysburg, and then were channeled into Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. On the whole, this organization works well, resulting in a coherent narrative.

There is much to commend in this narrative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert DeLuca on September 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While there is some confusion over the origin of the concept that "a picture is worth 1,000 words", Jonathon Hennessey's book certainly dramatically embodies the idea. I am a voracious reader and was, frankly, a bit skeptical of the effectiveness of using graphics to convey some fairly subtle and complex historical issues. After reading the book, however, I am amazed how effectively graphics were intertwined with incisive and clever prose to establish moods and tones that would have been very difficult to achieve with words alone. There is a section where a lady is stumbling around the battlefield after the fight looking for her husband among the dead and rotting corpses. She is shown holding a cloth to her nose for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, she finds him. The reader cannot help get caught up in the tragedy, sadness and chill of the moment. An extremely skillful use of graphics has served to convey heavy dose of reality.

The depth of research is truly commendable, and the authors have uncovered numerous, but fascinating, sidebar areas that I found to be intriguing. The comparison of the number of Civil War dead, preponderance of southern presidents, and the evolution of the cemetery are examples. The book made me reflect on deeper issues as well. A Yankee by birth, I had always narrowly viewed the succession from the Union as evil and unjust. Hennessey's comprehensive comparison of the Declaration of Independence vs. the Constitution opened my eyes to a whole different interpretation of that process. In fact, he demonstrates the southern states viewed their actions as very much justified both legally and morally, and, indeed obligated, in the same spirit that we all broke away from the tyranny of England. That idea had never really occurred to me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By checkers on January 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not your standard fair for Graphic Novels. I already utilize the author's "U.S. Constitution" graphic novel in my high school classes and it is seriously perfect for kids. THIS book, however, is deeper philosophically and ideologically about so much more than the Gettysburg Address. I like that the book is not filled with U.S. Civil War battle scenes or general profiles, but about much more compelling and deeper American issues. As a U.S. History teacher I would classify this as a 'must-read', though everyone might not feel the same. I'm particularly using the segment about States' Rights vs. Federal Rights in my classroom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Serenity&Firefly on October 9, 2013
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The author did a lot of reserach and it clearly shows. This book is great for teenagers and getting them to learn history on a complex topic. The author provides an interesting and informative perspective on the history behind the Gettysburg Address.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Margaret Breed on May 15, 2014
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Read this one. You can read it in a couple of hours. It's a graphic novel for adults but even my six year olds love it for the pictures. This book does a magnificent job of explaining everything political and social that led up to the Civil War, and everything that happened during the war, and why. It's framed on a line by line explication of the Gettysburg address, so you can understand what Lincoln was getting at during those few immortal lines. It should be required reading for all high school students, and they would not even find it painful. Magnificent job by the author and illustrator.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen on September 18, 2014
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I bought it as a gift to someone who specifically requested it. I did not read, but did skim through it prior to wrapping it up. I wished they had had this type of resource when I was younger ... having painfully read 'dry', old textbooks on history for school as needed! I would have tested much better on the information if it had been presented in the more interesting and dynamic manner like this graphic novel. I will be keeping this in mind for future gift or resources for my nieces and nephews. Thank you!
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