Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, July 22, 2017


America's Black and White Book:  Why We Are at War -- 100 Pictured Reasons by W. A. Rogers (1917).  Editorial cartoons from The New York Herald.

William Allen Rogers (1954-1931) began publishing his work at the age of fourteen in a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper.  A self-taught artist, his first big break came when her was nineteen and was hired as an illustrator for New York's Daily Graphic newspaper.  Four years later, he was hired by Harper's Weekly (where he remained for twenty-five years) to draw political cartoons following the departure of Thomas Nast.   After leaving Harper's, Rogers began a twenty-year stint at The New York Herald drawing daily political cartoons.

From Rogers' introduction to this book:

"Each government engaged in the European War has issued a White, Green, Blue, or Yellow Book, explaining the causes which led to its entry into the great conflict.

"These books are all interesting, and are full of valuable documentary information; but, if the busy people of America are to understand the reasons for their own participation in the war, some shorter cut to the desired end must be devised.

"We, therefore, offer a BLACK AND WHITE BOOK, in which our nation's reasons for going to war are set forth in pictures, a universal language which can be read at a glance by anyone who has eyes to see."

These editorial cartoons are pure propaganda:  GERMANS BAD!  They do however, gauge much of the feelings of the ordinary American at the time and detail the popular reasons the this country finally went to war.  It was not the purview of this book to go into the complicated and often inane reasons the war began.

Today the books remains as a snapshot in time, a compelling look at an America which was about to become a major player on the world stage, told with visual artistry by W. A. Rogers in a mere 100 drawings.