Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist

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Overview

A celebration of the man and his work, including a DVD with 18,000-plus cartoons.
There was no one like him. Throughout a career spanning seventy-two years and thirteen American presidents, Herblock’s spare, folksy cartoons made complex issues seem simple and moral choices clear. Syndicated throughout the country, his cartoons focused on important issues of the time, making Americans take note of the human folly that is politics.
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Overview

A celebration of the man and his work, including a DVD with 18,000-plus cartoons.
There was no one like him. Throughout a career spanning seventy-two years and thirteen American presidents, Herblock’s spare, folksy cartoons made complex issues seem simple and moral choices clear. Syndicated throughout the country, his cartoons focused on important issues of the time, making Americans take note of the human folly that is politics.
Published in conjunction with a Library of Congress exhibition chronicling his life and times, Herblock will warm the hearts of all who have followed his work in the past and serve as an introduction of his work to a new generation. It is a celebration of his life that reinforces the importance of editorial cartoons as a vital means for expressing political opinion in America. Haynes Johnson provides a reverent and insightful biography, while Harry Katz places Herblock and his work in context. In addition to more than two hundred fifty cartoons in the text, a DVD containing more than 18,000 cartoons completes the collection.

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Editorial Reviews

Ray Olson - Booklist
“[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.”
Michael Sims
This irresistible new book, with commentary by Haynes Johnson and Harry Katz, accompanies a Library of Congress exhibition celebrating the centennial of Block's birth and includes a CD that punctures pomposity with more than 18,000 cartoons…Block's strong ink lines and masterful lithographic pencil are sensuous pleasures. On every page, you can see his enjoyment in drawing
—The Washington Post
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393067729
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 362,908
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Herbert Block, commonly known as Herblock (1909—2001), was an American editorial cartoonist and author best known for his commentary on national domestic and foreign policy from a liberal perspective.

Harry L. Katz is the former head curator of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress and the author of Baseball Americana and Herblock. He lives in Del Mar, California.

Haynes Johnson is the author of Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties. He lives in Washington, DC.

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  • Posted November 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    APT TRIBUTE TO AN ICONIC THINKER AND ARTIST

    What can you do? When it comes to national politics and politicians sometimes all we can do is cry or laugh. Thank goodness for the late great editorial cartoonist Herb Block who helped us laugh in both the best of times and the worst of times. Yes, we chuckled whether it was at Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, the Great Depression, the New Deal or the atomic age. Block's work, which covered nearly 75 years serves as a record of our history, pinpointing events that shaped our country politically, culturally, and socially.

    Words cannot describe Block's contributions but reproductions of his cartoons found in HERBLOCK surely do. We're reminded of how his work influenced both politicians and public opinion when we note that in the early 1930's with Hitler on the horizon Block warned of the Nazi menace. He revealed Huey Long for who he truly was portraying Long screaming into a microphone as before him a figure wrapped in chains represented Louisiana.

    There was little that he did not tackle and for this he received numerous honors plus three Pulitzer Prizes as well as a place in the hearts and minds of countless Americans.

    HERBLOCK offers some 200 of Block's cartoons presented in historic order plus a DVD containing 18,000 cartoons. A magnificent collection and apt tribute to an iconic thinker and artist!

    Enjoy!

    - Gail Cooke

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