Friday, February 22, 2008

On the Review Pile

I received a book yesterday from Henry Holt & Company called A People's History of American Empire, by Howard Zinn. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I'd never heard of this book until the publicist contacted me about reviewing it. Apparently, it was up for a National Book Award in 1980. Shame on me! Of course, I feel surprisingly comfortable in my ignorance in this case since I was only just born in 1980. I think I get a pass for that, right? I'm not one for keeping up with awards now much less when I was an infant.

Excuses and awkward introductions aside, there is something very special about this reissue. It's a graphic novel adaptation!!!!!! And you know how that gets me all lathered up. This short little blurb is just about enough to push me over into ridiculously excited:

...a study of American expansionism around the world is told from a grassroots perspective and provides an analysis of important events from Wounded Knee to Iraq.

Grassroots? Wha-what?! Oh yeah. I'm all about some grassroots exploration of American empire. In fact, the short introduction, which you can read HERE with complete illustrations, has me positively salivating and my wicked liberal heart palpitating.

I've had some pretty severe gripes in the past about books with a political bent being turned into graphic novels. My thoughts on The 9/11 Report graphic novel were just a big bitchfest. A freakin' sorry excuse for a graphic novel if I ever saw one. It was absolutely, positively full of visual bias and was artless. ARTLESS. And nothing peeves me more than an artless graphic novel. When I say artless, I mean the illustrations were flat, did nothing to inform the story, and were just horribly produced. Cheesy. Essentially it was more propaganda trying to sell a one-sided perspective on 9/11 to kids and stoners who wouldn't pick up the real report.

To qualify, I don't think gn's are for kids and stoners, but they can have the artless ones as far as I'm concerned. The graphic novels with no soul, no intertextuality, no panache. Blah.

All that to say, I really think this is going to be a great book! I've read a bit of it already, and it's anything but artless. Keep an eye out here for the upcoming review.


  1. Sounds like a really interesting read! I look forward to hearing what you think of it. I love reading about history. It makes me feel so much smarter.

  2. I have heard of the book but was never very intrigued (shame, I know) but I just took a peek at the intro you posted and I have got to put that on my list. That looks great. Enjoy it and tell us all about it!
    Oh and I had no clue about the 9/11 report turned into a graphic book. Interesting.

  3. Howard Zinn is a major player in the alternative history world...I'm gonna have to check out the graphic version (when I get somewhere with a bookstore)

  4. It's out? I saw it in the catalogue a while back but forgot about it.

    Is it good? Really?

  5. Kim, I'll keep you posted. I can't wait to dig in.

    Iliana, I didn't know what it would be like. The title sounds a little dry and all, but it really does look like a great book. And the 9/11 Report graphic novel was one my former Thesis Director (Dr. S) heard about on NPR and we read it in an adolescent lit class. Big debate about who the intended audience could be.

    Definitely do, Lu. I'm gonna have to look into Zinn some more. If I like this one I might be hooked.

    Orpheus, so far so good! I'll keep you posted.


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