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Dr.Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel Paperback – 1 Jan 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; New edition edition (1 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847040
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 22.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 775,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The stories and illustrations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr Seuss, are known and loved the world over. But lesser known are his political cartoons, published in the New York daily liberal newspaper PM during World War II, which perfectly capture the era's unsettling Zeitgeist. Featuring almost 200 cartoons, Dr Seuss fans will recognise his imaginative style while seeing a largely unknown political side to this talented cartoonist. (Kirkus UK) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The best-selling treasure trove of World War II-era political cartoons by the creator of the Cat in the Hat - now in paperback! Few know the work Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, did as a political cartoonist during World War II for the New York daily newspaper PM. The extraordinary cartoons savage Hitler, Japan, Stalin, Mussolini, and "isolationist" leaders such as Charles Lindbergh. They exhort readers to give full support to the war effort, put up with shortages, buy U.S. savings bonds, and help control inflation. An introduction by Richard H. Minear, historian of the era and author of Victors' Justice, place them in context and illuminate the national climate they reflect.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "ickyline" on 7 Mar 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a huge Dr Seuss fan, and also a history student, I was amazed and intrigued to find that Ted Geisel had started his career as a war cartoonist, and had to order this book. Boy am I glad I did! The book contains hundreds of Dr Seuss' previously forgotten war cartoons in full-page format, as well as an excellent commentary by Richard Minear, that follows not only Dr Seuss' early career, but American attitudes to the war itself. This feature makes it as valid a historical text as it is an insight into Geisel's personal feelings toward World War II. The cartoons are frequently hilarious and at the same time thoughtful, and far better than most of the war cartoons I have studied. Within the cartoons, it is also possible to see the early ideas for later Children's classics such as Yertle The Turtle. This book is a must-have for any Dr Seuss fanatic, and advised reading for anyone with an interest in World War II
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bela on 10 Jun 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, well i didn't expect any less of him - it's a great book, with great cartoons - not a childrens book though... and do not get the hardcover edition - the cover isn't good - get the paperback.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 59 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
How the Nazis Stole the World (Almost!) 24 Dec 1999
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Collectors of Dr. Seuss books will definitely want this volume. I found it eerie to see creatures which later appeared in books like ~Horton Hears a Who~, ~How the Grinch Stole Christmas~, and other favorite books of my childhood turning up in caricatures of Axis powers, racists, war profiteers, and the Fifth Column. But, upon reflection, I must admit that these cartoons mark the origins of the themes of community awareness and social consciousness that distinguish his comedic later works. I would not call this a book to be had on every shelf, but if you grew up with Dr. Seuss and still sneak peeks at those slender volumes up in your attic (or in the clutches of your own children and grandchildren), you will find yourself fascinated by the obvious comparisons.
The book includes explanatory commentary by Richard H. Minear and a chronology of the cartoons.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
See Yertle the Turtle in His Earliest Form! 15 Aug 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was quite surprised when I discovered this book of over 200 (out of 400 he drew) political cartoons by Dr. Seuss (who became a Doctor only by honorary degree years later, even though he called himself Dr. Seuss at this time). I did not realize that he had been a major producer of propaganda in favor of intervention in World War II and later in favor of winning the war. What is even more surprising is to look at the cartoons and see familiar-looking fish, cats and turtles who show up in all of the most beloved children's stories by Dr. Seuss. Clearly, World War II was essential training for the pro-community, pro-progressiveness stories that three generations have now grown up with.
Dr. Seuss was so enraged by Italian pro-fascist propaganda that he sought a role in political cartooning with P.M., a New Deal liberal daily newspaper in New York. The newspaper did not carry advertising, and cost much more than other papers. As a result, it had a daily circulation of only 150,000. After two years, he volunteered for the service at age 38 and took a job in the Army signal corps creating propaganda movies (some of which won him Oscars).
Most of these cartoons would be ones that anyone would be proud to have drawn, for both their humor and the targeting of those who favored dictatorships and complacency about fascism. On the other hand, Dr. Seuss did a few that are certainly racist (although generally he was antiracist, opposing the ill treatment of blacks and Jews). The focus of his racism were Japanese (lots of slanted-eyes drawings of evil plotting) and Japanese-Americans (one cartoon shows Japanese-Americans picking up explosives after Pearl Harbor).
The book is also interesting for capturing the debates of those years in a fresh and visual way. I wish my studies of World War II in high school had included looking at some of these cartoons and discussing them. Because almost all of us know Dr. Seuss's later work so well, this book has a special usefulness to us in understanding U.S. politics of the time.
A lot of the cartoons are hard to understand unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II. As a result, I suggest that you read the accompanying essays by Richard Minear that fill in the gaps. There is also a chronology to relate the dates to the events. The cartoons themselves are arranged by subject matter, all the better to tie together with essays. Some may find this ordering (rather than one strict beginning to end grouping) a little confusing. However, compared to most cartoon books, this one is very well documented.
I suspect that people from the Greatest Generation would enjoy receiving this book as a gift.
Overcome your stalled thinking about the politics of today being the way things are by seeing how much our views have changed since World War II! Maybe, just maybe, we have some misconceptions today that we are not aware of like Dr. Seuss did about Japanese-Americans (who were later rounded up into concentration camps). Perhaps our misconceptions relate to ignoring the travails of the poorest 3 billion people on the planet. Think about it.
I was also struck that peacetime uses of Dr. Seuss's talent created much greater work than did wartime efforts. Perhaps that is true for all of humanity. That's another argument in favor of peace.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Great For Teachers! 30 April 2000
By Michelle P. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I teach World History in high school and I love this book. I would agree with a previous reviewer that for the person who is just picking this book up to read, the book would be improved by being presented chronologically. However, I found this book to be invaluable when presenting the propaganda of World War II to students. They have a natural love of Dr. Seuss and are very interested in the cartoons. Their interest in the cartoons leads to a lively discussion of the content of the cartoons. A must for all teachers of World History, U.S. History or any history of the modern era.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Oh the Drawings He Drew 14 July 2004
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dr. Seuss Goes to War is a fascinating look at the political cartoons of Theodor Geisel, (Dr. Seuss). Seuss was hired to draw political cartoons for the New York newspaper PM in 1941 and remained through 1943. Seuss had already published his first children's book, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937 but his other children's works were not created until after WWII.

Two hundred of those roughly four hundred cartoons have found their way into Dr. Seuss Goes to War. Because these cartoons were drawn on a daily basis and reflected contemporary events they provide the reader with a fascinating window through which one can view life in America and the World during the war years.

The book begins with a brief introduction by Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize winning author/illustrator of Maus. Spiegelman notes the eerie resemblance between the figures and animals drawn by Seuss and his later creations such as the Cat in the Hat, Myrtle the Turtle, and Horton.

The cartoons themselves are divided into sections by topic, (the Home Front, Hitler & Nazi Germany, the Rest of the Word, etc.). Each section contains a very well written and thoughtful preface by historian Richard Minear. These explanatory sections are quite helpful in putting the cartoons into the context of the day and providing critical information about some of the then well known figures of the day (Father Coughlin, Pierre Laval and others) that may be unfamiliar to contemporary readers. Minear's commentary is particularly useful because it contains links between the information he provides by reference to the specific page number of a cartoon. The reader's enjoyment and understanding of the cartoon is enhancement by this treatment.

As to the cartoons themselves, it is impossible to do justice to their power, wit, and whimsy. Seuss, and his newspaper PM, were strongly opposed to the isolationist movement in the U.S. in the months before America's entry into the war. As such Seuss pulled no punches when it came to directing his wrath at Charles Lindbergh and other isolationists. He mocked Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, and Stalin (until the German attack on the USSR) and the Vichy French government. Seuss' treatment of the Vichy regime, most notably Pierre Laval, was positively brutal.

Minear also includes a number of Seuss' cartoons attacking anti-Semitism and other racist, segregationist policies on the home front. In this area Seuss was well ahead of his time. Minear counterbalances this aspect of Seuss' world view by including Seuss cartoons lampooning Tojo, the Japanese military, and the Japanese people. Minear is quick to point out his disappointment at what he calls Seuss's ugly stereotyping of Japanese-Americans that he thought went beyond the bounds of acceptable commentary, even in the 1940s. Minear's disappointment is heightened by Seuss' otherwise enlightened approach to the treatment of Jewish and African Americans in the 1930s and 1940s.
On a purely emotional level, anyone who has ever read Dr. Seuss will enjoy looking at his political cartoons. The cartoons are both funny and thought provoking. The essence of Seuss's style of caricatures is fully in place and it is quite easy to see the physical similarity between the animals and people drawn by Seuss here and in his later children's works. This is a book that can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever read Dr. Seuss as a child. It will also be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in political cartoons or would like to explore how America viewed the world (through Seuss' eyes) between 1941 and 1943.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Not-So Silly, but Still Recognizable Dr. Suess 30 Aug 2000
By "rrr338" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This collection of Dr. Suess' political cartoons of the WW II era is likely to intirgue both history buffs as well as the fans of all those wildly imaginative kids' books. The cartoons are not chronologically ordered. Rather, they are grouped by themes, with introductory material by Minear preceding each (e.g., "The Home Front," "Hitler and Nazi Germany," "Winning the War"). This may seem a bit chaotic to some, but in another way, it can be beneficial in that it encourages one to make one's own comparisons of cartoon symbolism by paging back and forth.
Minear provides just enough historical backdrop. What I admire is that he respects the reader enough to refrain from making a complete interpretation of the cartoons. He often poses rhetorical questions that suggest multiple motives for Suess. I like that; it leaves me to make up my own mind based on my own knowledge of historical events.
Children familiar with Seuss will have a natural attraction to the cartoons, as many of the forerunners of familar characters appear there. However, they are also likely to ask questions about things they don't understand. For children old enough (and that's a personal call), this can be a wonderful way to introduce them to the history of World War II and the political climate of the times. Suess had a strong anti-isolationist stance, but he also touches upon racism (labor exclusion practices during the war, anti-semitism). He also demonstrates some degree of racism himself, in the depiction of Japanese. True, that was the prevalent attitude of the times, but again, you have an opportunity to open up some deeper discussion with a child or with your own conscience. Teachers may be especially interested in tapping the potential of this book.
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