Charlie Brown's America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts

Product Details
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.3 X 0.9 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author
Blake Scott Ball is Assistant Professor of History at Huntingdon College.

"Ball has offered a wonderful lens through which to understand not only how Schulz's Christian faith and mildly liberal bent generated a beloved comic strip but also how the life and times of an angst-ridden boy named Charlie Brown and his motley group of friends mirrored the contours of postwar American political culture....Historians of twentieth-century political culture will find much to like about Ball's analysis...of Schulz's comic strip, one that invited readers such as Reagan to project their own political anxieties and concerns onto the lives of minimally sketched cartoon kids." -- Robert Genter, Journal of American History

"Ball makes a strong case that the world's foremost comic strip was very political, despite common belief to the contrary, its messages deftly shrouded in allegory, ambiguousness, and intentional vagueness by Charles Schulz ... this excellent book provides abundant new material and many fascinating insights." -- J. A. Lent, CHOICE

"This is a comics studies book that your parents and non-comics friends would also enjoy. Charlie Brown's America is mostly jargon-free and is a fun, fast read. It reprints a substantial number of Peanuts comics and Peanuts-related images, and these entertain readers and help illustrate Ball's ideas. This is an excellent example of how to write good history that a general audience will enjoy reading!.... One of the most impressive elements of Charlie Brown's America is how it presents Charles Schulz as a deeply thoughtful person and then shows how that translates into his work. Ball really does complicate the legacy of Schulz and Peanuts, but he does so in a way that enriches the strip and helps to firmly ground the seemingly timeless Peanuts gang in cold war America....Charlie Brown's America serves up nostalgia, makes you smile, and still manages to make you rethink and reconsider Peanuts and its legacy." -- Dan Newland, The Comic Book Yeti

"It's enlightening to read Ball's breakdown of where the strip captured the moment and where it strayed." -- Heather Seggel, Progressive Populist

"Peanuts reflects America, or America reflects Peanuts. Both were true in the case of America's favorite comic strip. For half a century Charles Schulz sent his missive out to the world in a love letter, and his readers loved him back with unparalleled affection. In this thoroughly researched and carefully considered study, Blake Scott Ball explores the reasons why Schulz may have been our best cartoonist. Like Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Chaplin's tramp, Charlie Brown has joined our list of icons who help us understand the human condition. He's a good man, Charlie Brown." -- M. Thomas Inge, Randolph-Macon College

"Blake Scott Ball's Charlie Brown's America uses the history of Charles Schulz's Peanuts as a medium for his fascinating tour of cold war American culture." -- Grace Hale, University of Virginia

"This valuable study provides essential context for our understanding of a pop-cultural masterpiece. Charles Schulz generally avoided making overt political statements in his comics. But as Blake Ball demonstrates, that doesn't mean that Peanuts was never a political text. In fact, Schulz cultivated a deliberately ambiguous, even polysemic approach when addressing the most hot-button issues of his day--from Women's Liberation to Civil Rights and Environmentalism." -- Ben Saunders, University of Oregon

"A cultural history with the narrative drive of a well-crafted biography, Blake Scott Ball's Charlie Brown's America unlocks the mysteries behind Schulz's comic masterpiece. Drawing on interviews, speeches, and correspondence between the cartoonist and his fans, Ball offers deftly historicized close readings of Schulz's strip, showing how Peanuts' ideological flexibility made it a 'Rorschach test' for American readers during the Cold War. A tour de force of comics scholarship and an engrossing read!" -- Philip Nel, author of Was the Cat in the Hat Black?