Book Review: Lines of Contention: Political Cartoons of the Civil War

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J. G. (Jim) Lewin and P.J. Huff have collaborated in the past on other works, but this may be their best effort to date. In this new book from Collins (ISBN 006113788X), they take a fresh look at the political turmoil of the Civil War through the eyes of the satirists and political cartoonists of the era, drawing heavily upon contemporary sketches, woodcuts, and drawings from a myriad host of political commentators of the era. They reproduce scores of old cartoons from the pages of such once famous publications as Vanity Fair, Harper’s Weekly, and Leslie’s Illustrated. As would be expected (and similar to today’s political satirists), a large number of the illustrations deal with President Lincoln and his war policies, with few cartoonists in support of his goals and philosophies. They poke fun of his appearance, his leadership, and his course of action, much like modern cartoonists rip the current president and other leading politicians of both parties.

Lewin and Huff have assembled a delightful collection of period cartoons, an assortment that conveys the artists’ opinions and emotions as to the course of the war, the state of the country (both North and South), and they portray the social, cultural, and political climate in a way that few other books have to date. At 224 pages profusely illustrated with period political cartoons, this book is a definite winner. It is a worthy addition to the body of literature dealing with America at war with itself.

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Categories: Civil War books | Leave a comment

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