A Tale of Two Men


By James M. McPherson
Hill and Wang, $24.95, 150 pages

A way to learn about the civil war that isn’t painful – who knew? History buffs have always known that the road to freedom was fraught with obstacles; that Americans have rarely agreed on anything; that civil rights have always sounded good in theory and that even the most ardent abolitionists didn’t want ex-slaves living next door. But the rest of us hated the dry academic renditions which droned on with dates and places that were immediately forgotten after the history test. Dwight Zimmerman and Wayne Vansant have the answer: history done light.

“…the message was crystal clear. By publicly treating Fredrick Douglas as an equal, President Abraham Lincoln was extending the promise of equality to all people of color . . .”

In frame-by-frame illustrated biographies Zimmerman has broken the story of two important historical figures into sound bytes while Vansant has set the scenes with remarkable colorful drawings. The stories of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln are deftly portrayed in comic book style with all the aplomb of a screenplay. It’s a great way to refresh your knowledge of civil war history.

The story moves quickly and because a couple of scenes seem out of sequence – the foundations laid pages before – the book may leave some readers confused in places. However, keep reading and you will be rewarded with intimate and heartwarming details surrounding some of Lincoln’s biggest decisions – like the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Reviewed By Sheli Ellsworth

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