Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel

Overview

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is familiar to all Americans. But never has his most famous speech—his 271 indelible words—been presented in such a visual and accessible format.

Graphic artist and Civil War aficionado C. M. Butzer deftly uses a detailed, comic-book style to depict the Battle of Gettysburg; the national movement to create a memorial there; and the quiet day in 1863 when Lincoln delivered his galvanizing speech. Butzer uses only primary sources for the text, ...

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Overview

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is familiar to all Americans. But never has his most famous speech—his 271 indelible words—been presented in such a visual and accessible format.

Graphic artist and Civil War aficionado C. M. Butzer deftly uses a detailed, comic-book style to depict the Battle of Gettysburg; the national movement to create a memorial there; and the quiet day in 1863 when Lincoln delivered his galvanizing speech. Butzer uses only primary sources for the text, drawing from first-person letters and diaries, speeches, and Lincoln's own writing to unpack this series of historical events. The address itself is played out over eighteen pages, with every phrase given a visual interpretation that will resonate with young readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Graphic artist C. M. Butzer thrusts readers into the middle of the Civil War in this riveting visual account of the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath. Having researched numerous letters, diaries, and photographs from the war, Butzer manages to capture the grim atmosphere of the battle in his black-and-white illustrations, which communicate most of the events without a single word. When the characters do speak, their lines are often quotes from firsthand accounts of the events, giving a haunting authenticity to the book. Many illustrations are also based on photographs taken by Civil War photographer Timothy O'Sullivan; these focus on the horrific deaths of the war. The story climaxes Abraham Lincoln's stirring presentation of the Gettysburg Address at the Soldiers National Cemetery. Here, Butzer adopts an abstract format—as Lincoln speaks, the reader sees several historical events taking place, from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the battles of the Civil War to later battles for women's suffrage and gay rights. Although only seventy-nine pages long, Butzer's graphic novel deserves scrutiny—I found myself re-reading the book several times just to take in all the artwork. Butzer ends the book with a detailed set of author's notes that examine each page in more detail. Frequently disturbing but always fascinating, Butzer's first novel will be of great interest to teachers, students, and Civil War buffs. Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

This comic-style adaptation of a pivotal moment in U.S. history does a capable job of capturing the people, place, and portent of Civil War-era Gettysburg. The book begins with three edifying spreads: a map of the area, a cast of characters, and a prologue. Butzer then proceeds to the battle, its aftermath, and Lincoln's famous address. Some bold images-a slow rain of cannonballs, a solitary corpse on the battlefield-enliven the gray-toned art. The author/illustrator also made the interesting choice to position portions of the text over images of a chronological progression of civil rights issues, beginning with slavery and including the fight for the rights of women, Native Americans, gays, and more. The story, itself rather brief, is supported by substantial end materials. Extensive author's notes detail the many sources used for research, and the text of the Gettysburg Address is included. It's unfortunate that this useful information wasn't integrated into the main body of the book; it's a lost opportunity to take advantage of the graphic medium. Otherwise, this work serves as a solid introduction to this historically significant event.-Douglas P. Davey, Halton Hills Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Kirkus Reviews
This sophisticated contender in the graphic nonfiction market opens with "The Story So Far," setting the stage for the events that led to the bloody Civil War battle at Gettysburg. Clearly defined art and sharply delineated panels portray all of the horrors of battle: the numerous casualties, both human and animal, the impromptu and severely unhygienic operating rooms and the impact that this event had on those who lived there. A vast cast of characters-an even and improbable dozen-introduced early on does little to help readers follow the action. Rather, this feature obfuscates things, as many of the men have similar looks, varying only slightly in their coiffed hair or a hat and a mustache. It shines in its closing pages, compressing Edward Everett's two-hour speech into a few panels and giving Lincoln's Gettysburg Address a good 20 pages to make itself felt. Undoubtedly smarter and more astute than many of its graphic-nonfiction counterparts, this book should speak to those seeking a visual account. (map, author's notes; footnotes, bibliography, not seen) (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061561764
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/23/2008
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 387,259
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

C. M. Butzer is editor-in-chief of Rabid Rabbit, a magazine anthology of comic artists. This is his first book. Butzer lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

C. M. Butzer is editor-in-chief of Rabid Rabbit, a magazine anthology of comic artists. This is his first book. Butzer lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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