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The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick…

The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End…

by Dwight Jon Zimmerman

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Good dual biography for an introduction but a more interesting and more detailed book on the same subject is Russell Freedman's Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
A trailblazer and a game-changer? I am not referring to the protagonists in Dwight J. Zimmerman’s book The Hammer and The Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the End of Slavery in America, I am speaking of the book itself.
Yes, the book is a duel biography of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and the relationship they shared for a short while during Lincoln’s term in office. Yes, they are historically accurate, but quite brief. This can be understood knowing that dual biographies can be tough. Yes, they are blended quite well throughout the book. One storyline is quite evident from the next and more so when their experiences intertwine.
No, I am not speaking about any of that when I say it is a trailblazer or a game-changer. This title is a graphic novel. Graphic novels are somewhat of a rarity in the field of history, though not unheard of (an excellent example is Maus by Art Spiegelman). What is so fantastic about this is the quality of the scholarship, the flow of the story, the clarity of the narrative, the artwork and its use of colors. To the extent I have not yet seen or enjoyed.
The facts of the story had been reviewed by the eminent 19th century scholar Craig L. Symonds. The author went over each person’s story quickly, but not without the feel like they missed something. The work always seemed to cover enough to give the reader understanding. The narrative and conversations within the story were chosen well. The speech clouds and quotes that were known to be true or if need be, could be researched easily. The writing was kept short and was not too scholarly as to lose sight of who their audience was. The artwork was very nice, though I think Lincoln would be very flattered with his portrayal. He seems like he could have been quite the handsome man, which most of us know was not the case. They used color to indicate separate story lines. Douglass was a shade of blue-grey and Lincoln was a rust-pink. When their storylines interconnected, full color story panes were used. An effect that I thought made the book more arresting and original.
If I had an issue with the book, it would be with the long lasting effects they believed the relationship had on the future of society. I do not believe it was to the extent they imply, when writing history one must stick to fact based findings and not assumptions and cherry picking of historical incidents to support future events.
When all is said and done, I would recommend this title to all Abraham Lincoln fans, students of Fredrick Douglass, American history buffs and fans of graphic novels. If more history is written in graphic novel form, and I hope there is, one can look to the quality of The Hammer and The Anvil and and find a trail blazer. ( )
  Schneider | Aug 21, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809053586, Hardcover)

The period leading up to the Civil War was one of great change. Congress divided itself between Northerners and Southerners, citizens on the frontier took up arms against one another, and movements for secession and abolition were more urgent than ever.

In The Hammer and the Anvil, the award-winning author Dwight Jon Zimmerman and the renowned artist Wayne Vansant vividly depict the tumultuous time through the lives of two men who defined it: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

With a foreword by the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian James M. McPherson, The Hammer and the Anvil reveals that its protagonists each wrestled with the question of slavery from a young age. Douglass, a slave who was spared no brutality, once fought an especially cruel master and eventually escaped north to freedom. Lincoln, who was hired out by his father to do manual labor on neighbors’ farms, found this harsh life intolerable. As a senator, Lincoln sought ways to end the westward spread of slavery, believing that adding free states to the Union would diminish the power of the Southern states and lead to the gradual disappearance of the “peculiar institution.” Douglass was less patient. He had become a skilled orator and an influential editor of Northern abolitionist journals, and called on white Americans to honor their nation’s founding commitment to liberty.

When the Civil War erupted in April 1861, Douglass hoped that the conflict would mean the end of slavery. But Lincoln delayed emancipation, and Douglass despaired—until he met the president face-to-face and recognized that their causes were one and the same. Featuring evocative and dramatic scenes of this seminal time, The Hammer and the Anvil will engage both Civil War buffs and young people new to the study of American history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:02 -0400)

Zimmerman reprises his partnership with Vansant from The Vietnam War: A Graphic History to present an account of two of the most important figures of 19th-century U.S. history: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

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