Synopses & Reviews
A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.
As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative — and incendiary — cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman. He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.
Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso's Guernica, Goya's "Duendecitos"), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well — and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.
Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.
“This heavily illustrated, entertainingly written look at political cartoons is both personal — Navasky’s experience with controversial drawing as well as writing is considerable — and thoroughly researched. It is also deeply insightful.” Booklist
“A lavishly illustrated, witty, and learned look at the power of the political cartoon throughout history.” Publishers Weekly
“Engaging and often illuminating.” Kirkus Reviews
"A novel approach to the history of political cartoons. From Picasso, Grosz, and Daumier through Herblock and Ralph Steadman, Navasky illuminates an underappreciated art form." Oliver Stone
"As Victor Navasky, a word man, investigates the wordless art of the political cartoon — what, he asks, accounts for its implosive power? — we find ourselves in the hands of a writer of indefatigable curiosity and are caught up in the tempestuous history of newsprint art. An expansive, illuminating work. I know of nothing comparable." E.L. Doctorow
"Victor Navasky's The Art of Controversy is an entertaining and instructive reminder of the important place of political cartoons in exposing lies, hypocrisies, stupidity, and corruption in the public arena. Be prepared to laugh and get angry all at once." Tom Brokaw
"Victor Navasky pulls it off — he showcases the significance and power of political cartoons without taking the 'funny' out of them or cloistering the amazing rage they evoke that is far beyond the power of mere words to explain." Ralph Nader
A lavishly illustrated, witty, and learned look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.
As a former editor of the New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor Navasky knows just how incendiary — and transformative — cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever sketched — by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, Thomas Nast, Ralph Steadman, et al. — as he asks what makes cartoons so uniquely positioned to affect our minds and our hearts. Incorporating neuroscience, psychology, and a sweeping historical view of the cartoon's evolution, The Art of Controversy is a book for all lovers of satire, politics, and the vastly underappreciated and endlessly surprising art form of the political cartoon.
About the Author
Victor S. Navasky is the former editor and publisher of The Nation,
and a former editor at The New York Times Magazine,
who once founded his own quarterly of political satire, Monocle,
“a radical sporadical.” He
is the author of, among other books, Naming Names,
which won a 1982 National Book Award, and A Matter of Opinion,
which won the George Polk Book Award. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he is the director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism and chair of the Columbia Journalism Review
. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
The Cartoon as Content
The Cartoon as Image
The Cartoon as Stimulus
The Masses: Art Young and Robert Minor
Victor Weisz (Vicky)
Herbert Block (Herblock)
Raymond Jackson (Jak)
Steve Platt and the New Statesman
The New Yorker Images
Plantu and the Danish Muhammads
Qaddafi and the Bulgarians
Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro)