THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945: The Cartoonists' Vision by Roy Douglas

THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945: The Cartoonists' Vision

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An unusual re-viewing of the Second World War through images provided by political cartoons of the day, collected here and analyzed by a British historian (Univ. of Surrey) and specialist of the period. Compiled primarily from British, Soviet, German, and French sources, with an occasional cartoon from the American press, but few from Italy and only one from Japan, Douglas' collection offers a focus that is strongly, and unfortunately, Eurocentric. Major events and shifts in public opinion and political allegiance are documented within this context, beginning with the invasion of Poland by both the German and Soviet armies in September 1939, and ending in August 1945 with the coming of the atom bomb. To Douglas' credit, contrasting views of events are often compared, so that the iconography and ideology of various propaganda efforts become more visible. A commentary follows each cartoon, attempting to make similarities and differences explicit, and clarifying particular details. Small groups of cartoons are clustered within a loose chronology and prefaced by short historical summaries. The Soviet and German examples are especially intriguing; but the analysis has a limited range, tending toward simple description with a smattering of useful background information. The extreme fragmentation of the history itself precludes any sense of a solid historical overview, even though the author is impressively knowledgeable. Generally informative, but incomplete; the text leaves much to be desired, and the impact of the cartoons suffers as a result. Kudos for the concept--a raspberry for the execution.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Routledge