The Great American Documents, Vol. 1: 1620–1830

Ruth Ashby, Author, Ernie Colon, Illustrator, Russell Motter, Consultant
Ruth Ashby and Ernie Colón. FSG/Hill and Wang, $19.99 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-0-37453-453-0
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Hardcover - 151 pages - 978-0-8090-9460-8
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Comics great Colón, who in the last decade tackled Anne Frank and 9/11 in graphic novels, teams up with women’s and minority history scholar Ashby (Her Story: Women Who Changed the World, Rosa Parks: Freedom Rider) to produce an educational graphic novel. The authors use personal stories of historic figures such as black plantation owner Anthony Johnson, Franco-Indian War Gen. Half King, and Anne Hutchinson, a leader in the fight for religious tolerance, to bring an honest, identifiable realism to the historical documents that they cover here. Using notable treatises, pamphlets, laws, proclamations, and other documents, the book—which begins with the Mayflower Compact and ends with the Monroe Doctrine and the Indian Removal Act—weaves together nearly two dozen vignettes with clarity and synthesis. Most remarkably, it covers the culture and context of each time period with a balanced truthfulness. Colon’s grayscale artwork is straightforward, but historical figures are instantly recognizable, and the authors strive for a balance of genders and ethnicities that will keep a range of readers interested. For those who aren’t just curious about history but who really want to understand it, this is an exemplary volume. (May)
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