Thursday, January 10, 2013

What is Fiona Halloran reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Fiona Halloran, author of Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons.

Her entry begins:
My reading these days veers wildly between books that interest me for some reason and books I’ve assigned to students. One price of teaching such smart, thoughtful young people is that I have to keep up. I don’t mind – even with books I’ve read before my school-related reading introduces me to new ideas and reminds me of my favorite stories in American history.

One such book, which I finished for the third time last week, is John Mack Faragher’s Daniel Boone. Tracing Boone’s life from his origins in a Quaker-dominated village settled by his grandparents to his death in Missouri, Faragher encouraged me to watch the settlement of Kentucky from a variety of perspectives. For Boone, it was an adventure, a challenge, a business and a vocation. For many settlers from North Carolina and Virginia, Kentucky represented freedom from planter domination. Native people, especially the Shawnee, feared the aggression of white settlers and sought to protect hunting lands. Faragher’s greatest strength lies in his ability to...[read on]
About Thomas Nast, from the publisher:
Thomas Nast (1840-1902), the founding father of American political cartooning, is perhaps best known for his cartoons portraying political parties as the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant. Nast's legacy also includes a trove of other political cartoons, his successful attack on the machine politics of Tammany Hall in 1871, and his wildly popular illustrations of Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly magazine. Throughout his career, his drawings provided a pointed critique that forced readers to confront the contradictions around them.

In this thoroughgoing and lively biography, Fiona Deans Halloran focuses not just on Nast's political cartoons for Harper's but also on his place within the complexities of Gilded Age politics and highlights the many contradictions in his own life: he was an immigrant who attacked immigrant communities, a supporter of civil rights who portrayed black men as foolish children in need of guidance, and an enemy of corruption and hypocrisy who idolized Ulysses S. Grant. He was a man with powerful friends, including Mark Twain, and powerful enemies, including William M. "Boss" Tweed. Halloran interprets Nast's work, explores his motivations and ideals, and illuminates Nast's lasting legacy on American political culture.
Learn more about Thomas Nast at The University of North Carolina Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Thomas Nast.

Writers Read: Fiona Halloran.

--Marshal Zeringue