Great works by great authors generally don't go unpublished. If literature can be likened to archeology, few high-profile excavations evince lost masterpieces; if anything turns up in the files of dead writers, it's often relegated to the realm of unfinished works in progress. What's fascinating about Dr. Seuss Goes To War, an illuminating book of never-before-collected political cartoons, isn't just the quantity but the quality.
Before Seuss became an ingenious children's author, he spent the early years of WWII working for New York's short-lived liberal publication PM. In 1941 and '42, he contributed about 400 sharp capsule cartoons that decried isolationism, anti-Semitism, and, of course, Hitler--fellow cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who wrote the introduction, dubs this series "Horton hears a heil"--all of which prove a bit disconcerting coming from a childhood idol of millions. Cartoons dealing with "the home front" are especially biting, decrying the isolationist policies of the U.S. in a provocative and agitated manner at odds with the relatively conservative tenor of the times. Targets like Hitler and Tojo are pretty obvious (and hilarious), though much of Seuss' ammunition is spent castigating Charles Lindbergh for his questionable politics.
Seuss stopped making these cartoons once America entered the international fray, opting instead to enlist; he worked under director Frank Capra making propaganda films. Historian Richard H. Minear provides several illustrative essays to contextualize Seuss' opinions, but it's the work of the would-be Doctor that makes this coffee-table book the progressive gift of choice this year.
Onion A.V. Club
Scathing, fascinating stuff....A provocative history of wartime politics. Grade: A.
Christian Science Monitor
Vigorous, trenchant, and vividly memorable...a salutary reminder of an era in which patriotism and liberalism went hand in hand.
Great cartooning....Minear's text gives solid context to the drawings resurrected in this collection.
[B]oth a dark-humored history lesson and a glimpse into the artistic development that would carry into Seuss's best known books.
New York Times Book Review
A fascinating collection.
A shockerthis cat is not in the hat!
Michelle Gerise Godwin
I'm grateful that Richard Minear assembled this survey chronicling Dr. Seuss's first editorial stint nearly sixty years after his original cartoon was published.. Dr. Seuss not only helped me learn to read, he helped inspire my politics.
The Progressive Michelle Gerise Godwin
This is a scathing, fascinating stuff, and with Minear's commentary, it provides a provocative history of wartime politics.
The 1941-43 editorial cartoons of Dr. Seuss (real name, Theodore Seuss Geisel), newly published with essays by historian Minear and an introduction by Maus author Art Spiegelman, are a revelation.