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Herblock: The Life and Works of the Great Political Cartoonist Hardcover – October 13, 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The diminishing profession of editorial cartooning has been a particularly doleful canary foretelling the decline of the daily newspaper format. In this context, this retrospective of the late cartoonist's work defiantly documents the extraordinary career of a daily visual commentator on American political life. Designed to accompany an exhibit at the Library of Congress, the book briefly outlines the artist's career and its historical context, starting with Herbert Block's early career during FDR's term. His first Pulitzer, in 1941, earned him independence when he came under editorial fire for advocating U.S. entry into WWII. After his own military service, he joined the Washington Post, an association that lasted until his death in 2001. The bulk of the book showcases highlights of the artist's seven-decade career. Politically independent but largely progressive, Herblock is presented as prescient on issues including McCarthyism (a term he coined), civil rights and environmentalism. Herblock's best cartoons do more than provide color commentary on political skirmishes. They manifest characters vividly: his viciously ineffectual Eisenhower brandishes a feather opposite an ax-wielding McCarthy, for instance. The book is accompanied by a DVD containing 18,000 cartoons, a nearly complete collection of Herblock's indispensable oeuvre. (Oct.)
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Review

[A]s this generous selection of cartoons verifies, [Herblock] was drawing his trademark fat-cat big shots and portentous atmospheres (he was a master of shading) virtually from the beginning. Castigated as a knee-jerk liberal, he was really on the side of the little guy, repeatedly pointing out how big labor as well as big business, homegrown demagogues as well as exotic dictators, oppressed the common person.... Herblock’s Post reporter colleague Johnson, cartoon curator Katz, and the man himself, via snippets from his occasional writings, contribute to the text, and a DVD containing more than 18,000 cartoons accompanies the book. (Ray Olson - Booklist)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Har/DVD edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393067726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393067729
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.2 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A fitting and wonderful retrospective celebration of America's greatest political cartoonist of the last five decades, published to coincide with a Library of Congress exhibition of Herblock's art. The bulk of the book (212 pages) has a large cartoon per page and a short commentary below to put it in the context of the times though various themes are explored with a spread or two: Cold War; Civil rights; Watergate; Reagan for example.

The first cartoon is from October 14, 1929 with a slightly crude drawing style but turn over the page to a drawing from 1933 and you can detect the first signs of Block's signature style: fluid motion of figures; strong lines that vary in thickness and the wonderful use of graduated tints. By the time he joined the Washington Post (permanently) in 1945 his artwork was perfect. Not only great drawings to look at but he had the knack of presenting complex political points in everyday situations that readers could easily grasp. I think his creation of Mr Atom, the bomb-shaped personality from the Cold War years is a good example of this.

Apart from the cartoons the front of the book has a couple of worthwhile essays about Herblock's life and the art of the political cartoon. Back pages have some fascinating insights by him and how he goes about creating his daily art.

I would be happy with the book as it is but to have a DVD with 18,000 cartoons is really the cherry on top of the cake. Using Adobe Acrobat it's easy to navigate through the material starting with cartoons from Herblock's high school years then just follow each year and see every cartoon up to his last on August 23, 2001. Text material on the disc includes his books, awards and nicely you can check out some online resources.

The book, the DVD make this a brilliant tribute to cartoonist who made a difference.

***SEE INSIDE THE BOOK by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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Format: Hardcover
Herblock ...a good editorial cartoonist is sent as a political conscience is pointed out and is probably the most apt description of this great talent.
Perhaps his most telling works are those done at the beginning of the conflicts that developed into WWII. Some of the most startling predictors of the conflict to come are those done even in the 30's concerning the ongoing problems in Europe. How talented and preeminent his genius was can be illustrated by the cartoon done in May of 1941 before the invasion of Russia by Germany. It shows the ghosts of Napoleon's retreating army meeting up with the soldiers of advancing Germans.
Each one of his works are interspersed with Herblock's biography, his work history and philosophy. The cartoons have a bit of explanation, making it easy to understand the point of each work, even if you are not familiar with that instant and time and crisis in history.
What a wonderful career he had, is shown, beginning with the bank failures in 1933 to George Bush and the NEA lobbyist in 2001. The work he did is wonderfully illustrated in an included DVD. It is a great resource for anyone engrossed in further and complete explorations of his work. Teachers would be well advised to use this marvelous resource both for history and political science classes, even as comparisons to current events - just a wonderful work and collection.
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Format: Hardcover
Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist is a representative compendium of the satirical political cartoons of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Herbert Lawrence Block (1909-2001), a.k.a. "Herblock", who lengthy career spanned nearly three-quarters of a century and the careers of thirteen American presidents. 256 classic cartoons, categorized by era and enhanced with accompanying text concerning the relevant issues of the day that the cartoon drew pointed attention to, fill this powerful survey - which is further enhanced by an accompanying DVD of more than 18,000 cartoons (no less than the majority of Herblock's professional work)! From a cartoon of a man crying "Fire!" and trying to put out the Statue of Liberty's torch (in response to the civil liberties crackdown of the Red Scare in 1949), to an image of a naked Nixon using only an image of the globe to cover himself (a twist on "the emperor has no clothes"), to a thief's "getaway care" driven by the Supreme Court representing the metaphorical theft of the 2000 presidential election (which was ultimately decided by a Supreme Court decision), Herblock does not shy away from hot button topics or controversy. A worthy tribute to a truly great cartoonist, Herblock is enthusiastically recommended to public and privately library collections, and to anyone who enjoys political cartoons.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my father-in-law, who grew up on the political cartoons of Herblock. The hard bound book and the accompanying DVD provide the reader with a comprehensive view of Herblock's wit and insight into our political culture and times. My FIL thoroughly enjoyed this gift, spending many hours leafing through it's contents. Highly recommend!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful illustrations. The companion dvd is worth the price of the book as it has so many more cartoons than one could ever fit in a book and they are organized by category, These cartoons date back to the new deal, yet their messages often strike a chord for me today.
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