A profusely illustrated, popularly-written volume with original comic art, FDR and the New Deal For Beginners will shed new light upon a story now regaining visibility thanks to the recent economic crisis and prominent reformer, President Obama, in the White House.
The history of the precedent-making FDR administration through the bitter economic depression, with expansive programs empowering artists and working people, comes alive as the grandest social experiment in the history of American democracy. For the first time, the lives of the president, the first lady and the ordinary people of the time will be seen through an inventive comic narrative accompanying historic illustrations and a sympathetic but not uncritical text.
Paul Buhle, recently retired as a Senior Lecturer at Brown University, has written or edited forty-two books including a series of nonfiction comic art volumes in collaboration with Harvey Pekar (The Beats and Students For A Democratic Society); adaptations of works by Howard Zinn (A People's History of American Empire) and Studs Terkel (Studs Terkel’s Working); and an authorized biography on Mad Magazine founder Harvey Kurtzman (The Art of Harvey Kurtzman). He has also written on a wide range of subjects in The Nation, The Village Voice, Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Guardian (UK). He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Sabrina Jones wrote and illustrated Isadora Duncan, A Graphic Biography. She is a longtime editor and contributor to the political comic book World War 3 Illustrated. She has created nonfiction comics for Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World; Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation; and Mixed Signals, a counter-recruitment tool in comic book form. She lives in Brooklyn and paints scenery for Saturday Night Live.
The incredibly farsighted and productive presidential career of Roosevelt is handled in smart, dramatic fashion in this long-overdue addition to Steerforth's impressive "For Beginners" line of introductions to concepts, thinkers, and historical events. Buhle (The Beats) gives a clean overview of FDR's early years before heading into the meat of his story about America's most populist president. Dividing Buhler's text chapter are graphic renditions of many of the events by Jones (The Real Cost of Prisons), whose dramatic, woodcut-inspired art recalls political broadsides of the early 20th century. While avoiding lecturing, Buhle and Jones proudly speak from the left of the spectrum, a tricky balancing act. An introductory note states that the writer and artist were moved to create this book by the 2008 election of President Obama, which "created a popular, democratic and egalitarian excitement that, even now, after a considerable letdown, has hardly faded in memory." Buhle and Jones do such a good job of illustrating FDR's staggering legacy, however, that shutting the book and returning to 2010 comes as a considerable letdown.