Essay on Book Review The Cartoon History Of The United States

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Tori Simpson
AP US History
5 January 2013 Gonick, Larry.
The Cartoon History of the United States
. New York, N.Y.:
HarperCollinsPublishers, 1991. Print. Larry Gonick, the author of
The Cartoon History of the United States
, portrays American history from a completely unexpected perspective, cartoons. Gonick chooses to outline the history of the U.S. through illustration and comedy to provide a relief from the typical textbook format that history is usually taught through. By doing this, he also displays a refreshing outlook that keeps the reader thoroughly entertained and definitely not bored. Gonick succeeds in teaching American history in a way untaught before. Gonick’s cartoon book is filled with unusual descriptions of American history. Mainly, he uses jokes, sarcasm, and quirky drawings to present his odd, but intriguing historical depiction. Gonick also provides the other half’s opinion, for instance, Native Americans, the
British, and even animals. In addition, he even occasionally makes fun of US history. In one instance, Gonick stereotypically illustrates a Native American glaring at a map of the recent (as of the late 1600s) and ever changing colonization of the New World. The Native American is simply stating, “The map was never empty!” Humor like this highlights Gonick’s fresh

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perspective of history.
The Cartoon History of the United States makes for an easy, yet very informative read due to Gonick’s clever artistic and literary skills. Gonick’s book includes two parts, both are historically accurate with the exception of the author’s opinion and humor thrown in there. Part One (including the prologue) describes
American history from the very beginning of North America all the way up to the civil war.
There are many examples of Gonick’s accuracy, but there are also many instances where his accuracy is compromised by comedy. An example of the latter is presented in the very beginning of
The Cartoon History of the United States when Gonick writes that, “America was discovered so long ago that no one can remember the details…” followed by a cartoon of a Native American throwing off a fur coat and exclaiming, “This sure beats Siberia!” While this depiction is not completely untrue, historians do have some knowledge of America’s first inhabitants and its progression from there. Another representation of history skewed by Gonick’s humor is depicted in his description of the multiple perspectives of those involved in the American revolution; the
Patriots, the British, the Tories, the Slaves, the Indians, and France. In his description, he explains the war as one with, “six different sides…” Each side is defined by its mostly accurate stereotype. For instance the Slaves characterization consists of, “Master’s fight to get out from under England looked like a good opportunity to get out from under master.” As you can see,
Gonick’s presentation of American history are technically true, but they are undermined by sarcasm and jokes.
Part Two tells American history