The Art of Controversy by Victor S Navasky
Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power

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Had "The Art of Controversy" book widened its scope to include today's most biting satire, we may have been treated to a fascinating trajectory of parody-criticism.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.

As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative—and incendiary—cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman.  He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.

Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso's Guernica, Goya's "Duendecitos"), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well—and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.


Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.

 

About Victor S Navasky

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Victor S. Navasky is the former editor and publisher of The Nation, and a former editor at The New York Times Magazine, who once founded his own quarterly of political satire, Monocle, "a radical sporadical." He is the author of, among other books, Naming Names, which won a 1982 National Book Award, and A Matter of Opinion, which won the George Polk Book Award. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he is the director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism and chair of the Columbia Journalism Review. He lives in New York.
 
Published April 9, 2013 by Knopf. 256 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Art of Controversy
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Deborah Solomon on May 31 2013

Although the first four chapters of Navasky’s book amount to an engaging meditation on cartoon history, the remainder is too disjointed to offer much in the way of reading pleasure.

Read Full Review of The Art of Controversy: Polit... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on May 23 2013

Among the best reasons to come to “The Art of Controversy” is that as it rolls along, Mr. Navasky strews, like breadcrumbs, a minimemoir of his own busy life and times.

Read Full Review of The Art of Controversy: Polit... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by R Jay Magill Jr on Apr 12 2013

Had "The Art of Controversy" book widened its scope to include today's most biting satire, we may have been treated to a fascinating trajectory of parody-criticism.

Read Full Review of The Art of Controversy: Polit... | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by David Rosman on Apr 07 2013

For the political junkie, journalist, artist, cartoonist, or student, The Art of Controversy is a wonder story of an amazing art form.

Read Full Review of The Art of Controversy: Polit... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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