Make History Fun with Cartoons!

Leaders of AmericaLeaders of America
Capsule Biographies of over 260 Famous Personalities

This one I found when I was weeding the juvenile nonfiction. Of course it is old and worn out, but take a look at these cartoon illustrations. The color palette is awful and everyone looks like they had some kind of tanning booth accident. I get that this is to mimic the newspaper comic panels (because the kids dig the funny papers!) and the content isn’t that bad. They actually have a few women and minorities represented. Will a kid from this century want to use this book? Not a chance.


Henry Ford

Eleanor Roosevelt

Richard Nixon

D. W. Griffith


  1. bottom right cover: we can learn here about the oft-overlooked nietzsche administration

  2. “History will remember Nixon especially for his foreign accomplishments.”….MUAHAHAHA!!!!

  3. Birth of a Nation is “a cinematic masterpiece”?! It’s also an odious piece of racist propaganda!

    1. Birth of a Nation, despite its disgustingly racist weltanschauung is a milestone in cinematography. If not for it, we’d still be watching films more like the 1910 Frankenstein(‘s monster) than Young Frankenstein. Then again, maybe we’d be reading more if our films weren’t as good :).

  4. Ironically, one of the biggest racists in history is colored with a very dark complexion – Henry Ford. The other is DW. Griffith – the Birth of a Nation includes the birth of the KKK, if I recall correctly…

    1. It’s basically the backstory of the KKK, casting them in a highly sympathetic light. On a technical/craftsman level, it *is* a cinematic masterpiece, but the deplorable message kind of overshadows everything else…

      1. I remember overhearing it presented to a course when I was in college. All I could tell was it was dramatically scored. I have never seen the actual file though.

      2. Exactly what I was going to say, Sarah. It would have been fine if the book had explained about the offensive nature of the story as well as how it’s technically brilliant (which is how it was explained to me when I did a film paper) but there’s not a word about how racist it is.

  5. I kind of like the illustrations, actually. It reminds me of the old “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” books.

  6. Yes, nice choice of examples, including the wickedest President and two (in)famous racists, Ford & Griffith. I have seen The Birth of a Nation and yes, the ‘heroic’ KKK ride to the rescue of white women & children being threatened by (apparently) blacked-up actors. Tarantino’s Django Unchained contains an excellent, deliberately anachronistic, send-it-up and shoot-it-down parody of this if you’d like an antidote. People from History had feet of clay – that Eleanor Roosevelt was, of course, a well-known Red!

  7. While we’re bringing up issues with the D.W. Griffith page, not only is “The Birth of a Nation” NOT the “first feature film,” it wasn’t even GRIFFITH’s first feature (that honor goes to “Judith of Bethulia,” from 1914). Earlier features include “Cabiria” (1914) and “Quo Vadis” (1912), from Italy, and “Twilight of a Woman’s Soul” (1913) from Russia. The first American feature film was actually “The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight” (1897), a documentary of a boxing match.

Comments are closed.