Herblock: A Cartoonist's Life

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9780812930542: Herblock: A Cartoonist's Life

The famed political cartoonist shares reminiscences of his nearly five decades working in the nation's capital, offering anecdotes about the personalities he has met, detailing his own political views, and offering commentary of American politics

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Review:

Herbert Block, or Herblock, as he is more commonly known, has been an editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post since 1945. A Cartoonist's Life reproduces 250 of his best cartoons from those years (along with some from his earlier stints in Chicago and Cleveland), skewering politicians from Hoover and FDR to Clinton and Gingrich. Herblock also offers his candid reflections on life in the newspaper trade, rubbing shoulders with the people he drew, including the evaluation offered by Lyndon Johnson at a White House reception: "Oh, he'll come over and eat your cookies, but then he'll go back and draw a cartoon giving you hell the next day."

Herblock's always been willing to choose giving the objects of his criticism hell over the easy laugh, as many of the grimmer cartoons on subjects like antigun control lobbyists and the Bosnian conflict attest. The paperback edition includes added material going up to July 1998 addressing campaign finance reform, the unfinished war in Iraq, and the political showdown between President Clinton and independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Block--a.k.a. ``Herblock''--is a national institution. His drawings--appearing in The Washington Post since 1945--have been cited as factors in the discrediting of McCarthyism (a word he invented), the promotion of racial equality, the warning against nuclear war, and the toppling of Nixon. Here, in a lively memoir, Block rehashes many of his battles against abuses of power and the public trust; especially interesting are his assessments of the Presidents he's caricatured during his seven decades of political commentary. Block rarely second-guesses his earlier opinions, even on Eisenhower, whose posthumous reputation he attributes largely to our forgetting Ike's inaction on civil rights and his pandering to McCarthyism. The author is more charitable to JFK and LBJ, without airbrushing their political and personal flaws. But he reserves his full contempt for Nixon and Bush, whom he portrays as unprincipled opportunists interested only in winning and in helping themselves to the spoils. Sprinkled among the professional memories are anecdotes of Block's early days in Chicago, his army stint, his heart attack, his unsuccessful attempt to learn to swim, and his rubbing elbows with a fair number of the famous, in and out of politics. While Block the cartoonist has always been in the thick of things, his off-duty persona seems to have lived a comparatively placid life. And except for a few scattered comments on the tools and techniques of his trade, he has disappointingly little to say here about the art of cartooning itself (although his comments on a number of his fellow cartoonists are illuminating). Outspoken, unashamedly liberal, and thoroughly readable. (Enriched by 200 vintage Herblock cartoons, plus an eight-page photo insert--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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