And the Pursuit of Happiness

And the Pursuit of Happiness

by Maira Kalman


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Energized and inspired by the 2008 elections, celebrated illustrator Maira Kalman traveled to Washington, D.C., launching a year-long investigation of American democracy and its workings. The result is an artist’s idiosyncratic vision of history and contemporary politics.

Whether returning to America’s historical roots at the Lincoln archive and Jefferson’s Monticello, or taking the pulse of the present day at a town hall meeting in Vermont, an Army base in Kentucky, and the inner chambers of the Supreme Court, Kalman finds evidence of democracy at work all around us. Her route is always one of fascinating indirection, but one that captures and shares in hundreds of beautiful, colorful reasons why we  are proud to be Americans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143122036
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 443,256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

MAIRA KALMAN is an illustrator, author, and designer. She is the author of The Principles of Uncertainty, and illustrator of the bestselling edition of William Strunk and E.B.White's The Elements of Style. Most recently, she collaborated with Michael Pollan to illustrate his bestselling Food Rules. Kalman's work is shown at the Jule Saul Gallery in Manhattan.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

November 15, 1949

Place of Birth:

Tel Aviv, Israel


New York University, 1967-70

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And the Pursuit of Happiness 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
And The Pursuit Of Happiness is artist Maira Kalman's celebration of democracy and the founding fathers. Part art book, part graphic novel, the reader will be drawn through her exploration of what democracy means in the United States, and learn about the lives of many of the prominent men who created our amazing system of government. Many readers will recognize Kalman's unique artistic renderings. She is a frequent provider of New Yorker magazine covers. She illustrates children's books, and her work has been featured in museums and by designers in their lines. She uses vibrant colors and Grandma Moses-like depictions of scenes for striking illustrations that are memorable. Inspired by the inauguration of Barack Obama, this book is her tribute to the democracy and the people that made his election possible. There are chapters devoted to various Founding Fathers. The book is organized by months. January is devoted to the Obama inauguration. February is devoted to Abraham Lincoln while March celebrates the philosophical underpinnings of democracy and its forms such as town halls. April is about the laws of the land. May discusses our military and the price we owe these brave defenders of freedom. June discusses Thomas Jefferson and his many interests, while July is devoted to Benjamin Franklin and other scientists and inventors. August is about the explorers who discovered America and the issues surrounding immigration today. September talks about cities; specifically New York City. October covers Congress, while November is devoted to our national foods. December is reserved for George Washington. This book is recommended for all readers. Everyone will learn new facts and the knowledge is imparted in a breezy fashion that make the learning fun. The illustrations are vivid, brilliant, amazing. Maira Kalman has created a visual feast and we are the richer for it.
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Expectations! They are a bitch.About a week ago, I read Maira Kalman's other book The Principles of Uncertainty and loved it. It is full of charming joyful paintings, paintings of all manner of things/couches/hairstyles/hats, lists and photos of people's backs, etc. All strung together in the loosest wandering free-form way possible, which is part of the charm. Afterwards, I read online about her newest book 'And the Pursuit of Happiness':"Inspired by the 2008 elections, artist Maira Kalman set out across these great states with pen and paper in hand to explore facets of American democracy that many Americans only contemplate on the Fourth of July."So what I expected was this: Maira stops in rest areas and gas stations, painting weird southern ephemera, philosophizes about the South and our history of slavery, suddenly she spots a duck-shaped hat and goes berserk and paints 20 pages straight of this same hat from different angles! Then she gets sidetracked and starts talking about the variety of trees beside the highway, then she follows an old abandoned train track to see where it goes, meets some hillbillies and talks with them about 'America', shoots a few deer, paints them, hitchhikes with a single mom in her yellow Honda civic hatchback to California while painting exquisite reproductions of her right ear as seen from the passenger seat, then paints some lean-tos in Nevada, paints the interior of several houses where she stayed on the floor on her epic roadtrip across the country, people-watches in a mall, paints a well manicured poodle, paints someone's sequined shoes, wonders to herself "Could the meaning of America be sequined shoes?" and there you have it THE END!Instead, I got: Maira, filled with optimism after Barack Obama's inauguration, decides to write a book about the beginnings of this country. She doesn't do much travelling (though she does some) or meeting of regular people. Instead, she dives into history books and history museums... OK, already not as exciting a concept to me as what I had imagined... but let's give it a shot anyway.Most of this information is common knowledge about our forefathers. History that seems to brush the surface, history that seems like myth (i.e. what they want you to believe happened). The book is filled with paintings, but most of them are paintings of oil paintings of dead white men. These paintings lack the kind of verve and observation of the paintings in her other book... Because in her paintings of regular people, you can tell by the way she paints them how she feels exactly about this person's nose, or how much she loves this woman's hair, or how the squirrelly quality of that man on the street comes out in full color. Here, we have reproductions that seem stale by comparison. I find posed oil portraits so boring, and though she tried her best, she was basically just reproducing them in this book, without adding much of her own character or interpretation into the mix (there are exceptions, of course).Later, when she shows real people (like the kids involved in the organic farms) she opts to show photographs of them instead of paintings. Why she decided to paint oil reproductions of Thomas Jefferson while photographing the kids is a mystery to me. It seems like the opposite choice would've produced much better results, with more room for interpretation. We've all seen Thomas Jefferson a million times, in that same pose!Then, instead of traveling to the little known spots to discover the spirit of what America is now, she goes straight to Washington D.C. What follows are portraits of government workers and congresspeople, sitting in their offices, in their business suits. All pretty boring to me. What's more, it's not like she gets below the surface of who these people are. Example: on one page we see a painting of a woman against a yellow background and the words say "I meet Haeda Mihaltses, the director of the office of intergovernmental affair
2chances on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maria Kalman is an illustrator, an artist with a whimsical eye for the stuff of everyday life. "And The Pursuit of Happiness" is basically a book of her richly colored, Matisse-ish art with a sprinkling of commentary about American life and governmental functions. That sounds a bit dull, and I feel ashamed of myself for not being able to put it better, because nothing about Kalman - her personality,her art, or her writing - is in any way dull. On the contrary, she brings a delightfully fresh perspective to everything in this book - from the sewage plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn ("And there is no smell. WHAT?") to the Jell-o Mold Competition (also in Brooklyn) "run by this ENTERPRISING, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN in a GREEN JACKET and YELLOW BLOUSE", to the complexities of Thomas Jefferson's character ("Imagine the elegant evenings of brilliant discourse and fine wine and the best of everything. Thomas playing the violin, Martha playing the pianoforte. Alongside that, evening of endless labor and deprivation and freezing in pitifully small rooms, each on of which housed an ENTIRE FAMILY. Jefferson was a kinder master than most. And he was greatly conflicted.")I loved the gentleness of this book, and I loved Kalman's ability to see beyond complexity to simplicity, and beyond simplicity to complexity. And most of all, I loved her deceptively primitve, brilliantly colored art, which I cannot help but think is a direct expression of the artist herself - who knows what to look at when she travels, sees a glorious pageant of wonder and excitement in the most simple things, and knows how to convey it to her readers.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sort of a graphic novel, sort of a prose poem, mostly a love letter to democracy, And the Pursuit of Happiness is Maira Kalman's story of her journey from coast to coast to discover what democracy means.This is a gorgeous book - as weighty in feel and heft as its contents are light and spontaneous. Kalman combines handwritten typography, her own illustrations, and photographs into an intimate picture of her thoughts and meditations on subjects as diverse as fast food, mushrooms, Alexis de Tocqueville, and why we should all be in love with Abraham Lincoln.This is a book that made me smile (and want breakfast at a diner on the way to Mount Vernon). In the midst of our more typical pessimistic screeds about the futility of governing by the people, Ms. Kalman reminds us in her own way just how simple it can all be.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a graphic novel, illustrated poem, love letter to democracy, etc. Call it what you will, I just loved it. It¿s a sweet look at our government and the world around us. It¿s simple and joyful. The goal is not to give you a history lesson, but it manages to share some wonderful bits about our fore father in a playful way. The hefty book is over 400 pages, but it¿s mainly illustrations and so it¿s a quick afternoon read. Kalman seems to find joy in the simplest things, like the funny quirks of the people she meets or the signs she sees above a public restroom in the Capital building. Her drawings and thoughts are so endearing. She talks about the food she ate on her trip and the people she met, even if they aren¿t essential to what she¿s saying. She gets sidetracked, but that¿s part of the charm. The book is split into 12 chapters, one devoted to each month of the year. It explores the lives of a few of our well-known presidents (Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington), including tidbits about their marriages and personal lives. The whole thing is done in such a lovely, whimsical way that each page is a treat.p.s. For some reason I thought the drawing on the front was suppose to be some Russian guy, it¿s not, it¿s Ben Franklin.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From my book review blog Rundpinne:What at first appears to be a very thick and exquisitely illustrated book for children is in fact a brilliantly well-written book for adults about Democracy and the founding fathers of the United States of America. And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman is an exquisite addition to any library, as she takes the reader through the history of the founding of democracy, details from quite serious to quirky about our founding fathers along with important historical events from around the world. Kalman is a gifted illustrator and writer, making history fascinating for even those who may think the lives of the founding fathers could be at all interesting. And the Pursuit of Happiness delves even farther and takes a look at recent history with a hope for the future in a light and refreshing manner. Kalman¿s book is one I truly enjoyed and had to go through a few times to catch everything in the illustrations as well as in the words, and she likes Nabokov! She also has quite a way to make the reader hungry, at least this reader! I would recommend And the Pursuit of Happiness for all readers, young and old, history buffs or not, for it is a lovely look at this country¿s pursuit of happiness. JH/Rundpinne/2010
wortklauberlein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tour de force of a tour of the nation's capital, a sewage treatment plant in Brooklyn, Monticello, U.S. history and more besides. Maira Kalman mixes her art, handwritten prose and photographs in musings that have hidden depths and many surprises, including the Hooah! bars in MREs and that amazingly beautiful wastewater treatment plant. Art is where you find it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago