April 11, 2011 American Political Cartoons, 1754-2010, to Be Subject of Book Discussion

Authors’ Work Spans History of Cartooning

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

From Benjamin Franklin’s drawing of the first American political cartoon in 1754 to Herblock’s blistering attacks on Richard Nixon, editorial cartoons have always been a part of American journalism and politics. “American Political Cartoons: 1754-2010” (Transaction Press, 2010) chronicles the nation’s highs and lows in an extensive collection of cartoons that span the entire history of American political cartooning – including a final chapter on the Bush and Obama years.

The authors of “American Political Cartoons,” Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop, will discuss and sign their book on Wednesday, April 27, at noon in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond program is co-sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book and Prints and Photographs Division, where the authors conducted extensive research. “American Political Cartoons” is the third revised and updated edition of a book originally published in 1968.

Through skillful combination of pictures and words, cartoonists galvanize public opinion for or against their subjects. In the process, they have revealed truths that have been both embarrassing and ennobling. Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop note that not all cartoonists have been above reproach. Many have perpetuated demeaning ethnic stereotypes, slandered honest politicians and oversimplified complex issues.

Yet most cartoonists pride themselves on attacking honestly, if ruthlessly. “American Political Cartoons” humorously recounts many direct hits, recalling the discomfort of the cartoons’ targets – and the delight of their readers. This book demonstrates the cartoonists’ ability to capture the essence of key moments that have shaped American history.

Stephen Hess is senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution. He was on the staff of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon and was an adviser to Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He is the author of “America’s Political Dynasties,” “Organizing the Presidency” and numerous other publications on journalism and politics. Sandy Northrop has worked within the Public Broadcasting System for more than 30 years. She has produced and edited award-winning television programs on many topics and is a recognized authority on political cartoons.

“American Political Cartoons” is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The Books & Beyond Book Club is available at www.facebook.com/booksandbeyond/. Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (www.Read.gov/cfb/) has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s www.Read.gov website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.


PR 11-079
ISSN 0731-3527