From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up—Originally self-published in four installments, Nat Turner
follows the dark legacy of the Virginia slave rebellion and subsequent murders of at least 55 white slave owners and their families in 1831. Baker presents a cinematic reel that integrates beautiful sepia-toned panels, newspaper headlines in period font, photographs, and historical texts; most heavily drawn from is the recorded Confessions of Nat Turner
. The book begins with the brutal capture, mistreatment, and direct and indirect murder of native Africans by white fortune seekers, with disturbing detail such as the sharks following slave ships for the plentiful corpses thrown overboard. These images, as described by a young Turner to his astonished first-generation relatives, were apparently some of the first in a number of "visions" that the staunchly religious man experienced throughout his short life. Turner is presented as a fiercely intelligent, angry, yet steadfast individual whose potential was dashed in an era of hate and inhumanity. Those characteristics are mirrored in the actions of the slaves' rebellion, in illustrations that are not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. The ideas brought forth here are sure to ignite debate and discussion, and this book would be a most interesting companion to other studies of antebellum history such as Edward P. Jones's The Known World
(HarperCollins, 2003).—Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA
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About the Author
Kyle Baker has authored more than 15 graphic novels and illustrated hundreds more in a career that extends over three decades. He is the winner of eight Eisner Awards and four Harvey Awards, among others. A pioneer in the graphic novel format since the 1980s, Baker helped define and evolve the medium with works such as Nat Turner, Why I Hate Saturn, and King David. Other titles include The Cowboy Wally Show; Truth: Red, White & Black; and Birth of a Nation. Baker has lectured at Dartmouth, Howard University, the Library of Congress, and the School of Visual Arts, and he regularly teaches homeless teens for the City of New York.