A passable introduction to the life of Shah Jahan for lovers of history.



From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Gives readers a glimpse into the story behind one of the world’s most famous monuments and oldest romances—Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb, the Taj Mahal—and the people who built it.

A flashback to 1592 reveals a soothsayer informing the empress of the Mughal Empire that a child destined for greatness will be born into the royal family. Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram is raised by his grandfather, the Emperor Jalal-ud-in Akbar, and Akbar’s first wife, the Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. At the age of 15, Khurram meets and falls in love with Arjumand Banu Begum. Following the soothsayer’s words, Khurram—who later becomes the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan—waits 5 years to marry his beloved, who comes to be known as Mumtaz Mahal; however, Arjumand becomes his second wife, as Khurram first marries a Persian princess as part of a political alliance. The detailed, full-color illustrations enhance the story with their expressiveness and rich jewel tones, but the narrative itself lacks depth and perspective. More important, the text either ignores or glosses over historic details: Shah Jahan had three wives (the last of whom does not make an appearance), and the laborers, who spend years constructing the Taj Mahal, look upon Shah Jahan as a benevolent ruler.

A passable introduction to the life of Shah Jahan for lovers of history. (historical and biographical notes) (Graphic history. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-59-8

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.



A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Beautiful fluff with little substance.



A who’s who of the queer, iconic, and fabulous.

Readers looking for a casual introduction to a diverse selection of members of the LGBTQ+ community (and their allies) will enjoy this compilation of dozens of individuals, a handful of whom are discussed collectively. The names range from the exceptionally well known—such as singer and actor Lady Gaga, drag superstar Shea Couleé, and activist Sylvia Rivera—to icons who may be new to them, like Black plus-size model Dexter Mayfield, Black British activist Lady Phyll, and Salvadoran American intersex writer/actor/director River Gallo. The book also includes a few sections offering advice, such as “How To Be a Support to a Queer Person” and “Ways To Celebrate Pride Season All Year Round.” The bold graphics and colorful artwork are sure to grab readers’ attention, although the likenesses of the portraits vary in degree of verisimilitude. Readers seeking traditional biographical sketches will definitely need to look elsewhere for solid facts, including birth dates, death dates, and sources of additional information; they may also feel bemused by the prominently featured opinions of the author. As a curated list of one individual’s heroes, the book is good; as anything else, it’s less than iconic.

Beautiful fluff with little substance. (organizations, helplines, resources, sources) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52135-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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