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am 12. Dezember 1999
The worst book ever done by Theodore Seuss Geisel - Dr. Seuss to the world - was his 1984 attack on American participation in the arms race, The Butter Battle Book. What made the book objectionable was not only the wrongness of its thinly-veiled premise (two races seperated by a wall disagree over how to butter toast and the result is war), but the rank hypocrisy involved, a hypocrisy displayed in this fascinating compedium of some 200 editorial cartoons Seuss/Geisel penned for the New York magazine PM just before World War II and during the war's early years.
The wartime cartoons Seuss penned run the gamut. All have as their theme the invincible rightness of American victory over the Axis as well as attacks on isolationists. On isolationists, there is a cartoon in which a motherly type named America First reads a swastika-stamped children's book about "Adolf The Bear;" the woman reads to the two startled children on her lap a passage belittling the suffering of "foreign children" at the hands of Nazi Germany. There is another portraying Charles Lindbergh collecting trash for the Axis.
Other cartoons are more blood-curdling. There is a gruesome picture of Hitler dancing amid a sea of hanged Jews. Even this, though, is outdone by Geisel's often grotesque portrayal of the Japanese - the best cartoon shows an Uncle Sam eagle using a piece of wood with an exposed nail to pummel a slant-eyed "Japanese" cat on a corner of "Jap Alley," only to see a horde of similar "Jap" cats marching toward him.
Contemporary audiences will likely object to the racial stereotyping involved in Geisel's Japanese cartoons, never mind the real life barbarism and inhumanity of the Imperial Army that justifed such unflattering portrayals. As mentioned, the hypocrisy of Seuss' Butter Battle Book compared to his wartime cartoons is what makes the latter fascinating viewing 55 years after VE and VJ Days. Richard Minear touches on this hypocrisy when he notes the willful amnesia involved in Seuss' parable on American reconstruction of defeated Japan, Horton Hears A Who.
Minear has done a service unearthing these long-forgotten cartoons of Dr. Seuss.
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am 24. Dezember 1999
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.
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am 30. April 2000
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.
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am 3. März 2000
This book would have been greatly improved by a strict chronological ordering of the cartoons---they are somewhat scrambled---interspersed with summaries of key WWII events. Some of the subtleties of political details motivating particular cartoons will be lost on readers that don't have a ready knowledge of WWII chronology and the associated personalities.
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am 15. Februar 2000
I bought this book for my father for Christmas. Everyone agreed it was the best present of the day. Extremly entertaining, and highly informative, this book looks at WWII through Dr. Suess' eyes. Oh, and what eyes they were. If you find the WWII era at all interesting, you will love this book.
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