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March: Book One by [John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell]

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March: Book One Kindle & comiXology

4.8 out of 5 stars 2,924 ratings
Book 1 of 4: March

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–Beginning with a dream sequence that depicts the police crackdown on the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March, this memoir then cuts to Congressman John Lewis's preparations on the day of President Obama's inauguration. Lewis provides perspective on the occasion, explaining and describing his own religious and desegregationalist origins in Alabama, his early meeting with Dr. King, and his training as a nonviolent protester. The bulk of the narrative centers around the lunch counter sit-ins in 1959 and 1960 and ends on the hopeful note of a public statement by Nashville Mayor West. The narration feels very much like a fascinating firsthand anecdote and, despite a plethora of personal details and unfamiliar names, it never drags. Even with the contemporary perspective, the events never feel like a foregone conclusion, making the stakes significant and the work important. The narration particularly emphasizes the nonviolent aspect of the movement and the labor involved in maintaining that ideal. The artwork is full of lush blacks and liquid brushstrokes and features both small period details and vast, sweeping vistas that evoke both the reality of the setting and the importance of the events. This is superb visual storytelling that establishes a convincing, definitive record of a key eyewitness to significant social change, and that leaves readers demanding the second volume.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Congressman Lewis, with Michael D’Orso’s assistance, told his story most impressively in Walking with the Wind (1998). Fortunately, it’s such a good story—a sharecropper’s son rises to eminence by prosecuting the cause of his people—that it bears retelling, especially in this graphic novel by Lewis, his aide Aydin, and Powell, one of the finest American comics artists going. After a kicker set on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 (the civil rights movement’s Bloody Sunday), the story makes January 20, 2009 (President Obama’s inauguration) a base of operations as it samples Lewis’ past via his reminiscences for two schoolboys and their mother, who’ve shown up early at his office on that milestone day for African Americans. This first of three volumes of Lewis’ story brings him from boyhood on the farm, where he doted over the chickens and dreamed of being a preacher, through high school to college, when he met nonviolent activists who showed him a means of undermining segregation—to begin with, at the department-store lunch counters of Nashville. Powell is at his dazzling best throughout, changing angle-of-regard from panel to panel while lighting each with appropriate drama. The kineticism of his art rivals that of the most exuberant DC and Marvel adventure comics—and in black-and-white only, yet! Books Two and Three may not surpass Book One, but what a grand work they’ll complete. --Ray Olson --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • Publisher : Top Shelf Productions (August 14, 2013)
  • Publication date : August 14, 2013
  • Language : English
  • File size : 96043 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Word Wise : Not Enabled
  • Print length : 125 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 2,924 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
2,924 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2019
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By DisneyDenizen on August 10, 2019
TRIGGER WARNING: Animals. Man’s inhumanity to man. Please see the bottom of this review for details.

March is a graphic novel trilogy which tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of John Lewis, a civil rights leader and U.S. congressman. It is a meticulously detailed account. The books are simply named:

- Book One (2013)
- Book Two (2015)
- Book Three (2016)

The artwork in these books is black-and-white, with an emphasis on black. It seems like the illustrator is frequently using black space instead of white space on the page. If this is meant to be a social commentary or simply to illustrate the dark and difficult times, I do not know.

A fundamental problem I noticed is that sometimes the speech bubbles are too small to read. This does not happen often, and I think it is largely for dramatic effect. I was reading with my reading glasses, but still there were illegible words. I called my kids in. Same thing. But when I took a photo of one such speech bubble and expanded it, most of the words became legible! I did it again on a different photo, but the contents of those speech bubbles were gibberish; they were just there for dramatic effect to illustrate a violent crowd. Given that this is for effect and not an actual error, my 5-star rating remains.

As March is told largely from John Lewis's perspective, John Lewis is very much the hero of his own story. Still, I don't dare give such a stunning account of the fight for civil rights anything less than 5 stars.

The photos I chose to include in this review either spoke to me or illustrated some aspect of this review.

The first book covers John Lewis’s childhood and early years in the movement, largely told as a flashback to young constituents visiting his office on the morning of President Obama’s inauguration. We learn about Emmett Till and Brown vs. Board of Education - and the effect these had on young John Lewis. We watch as John Lewis meets Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. We follow him to college and participate in sit-ins at lunch counters. The book concludes with the successful integration of lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.

There was one incident in the book which tickled my funny bone. John Lewis grew up on a farm and when it was time to plant, he was not permitted to go to school because his father required everyone’s assistance. So John Lewis would hide and then make a mad dash to the school bus, spend the day at school, then receive a scolding (but not any actual punishment) when he arrived back home. John Lewis insists that he had to take this path because it was a “life decision” he had made. As an onlooker and a parent, it occurs to me that his father may have set him on this particular path, making attending school appear to be a rebellious act. Furthermore, ditching farm work to attend school solidified the boy’s commitment to his own education. As a parent, I’m thinking bravo! Kudos to the dad - who incidentally could have driven to the school and pulled the boy out for the day but apparently never did.

The second book begins with efforts to integrate movie theaters in Nashville. From there, John Lewis goes on to become a Freedom Rider; discussion of that experience and the Freedom Riders in general takes up a significant portion of the book. After the briefest of detours into protesting for fair employment practices, John Lewis describes the splitting of the movement into two sections: direct action and voter registration.

At the age of 23, John Lewis is unexpectedly elected chairman of the important Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which thrusts him into the spotlight as part of the national leadership. He becomes one of the “Big Six”. Next the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is covered. John Lewis is the only surviving speaker of that March. I believe his entire speech is included in the graphic novel, while an earlier disputed draft is included in text form at the end of the book. By contrast, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech is only alluded to, I suspect for copyright reasons. It is amusing to note that John Lewis and the other leaders were meeting with Congressional leaders when the March began and hence missed its start!

The book ends with the bombing of a church.

By far the longest of the three books, Book Three begins with the same church bombing we ended Book Two with. The focus of this book is squarely on the right to vote as voter registration of African-Americans is aggressively blocked throughout the South.

We accompany John Lewis on a 72-day trip to Africa where John Lewis learned the importance of Malcolm X to young revolutionaries on the continent. It is a weakness of the book that no context is given as to what is happening in Africa during those years, namely that country after country is throwing off the yolk of colonialism. While intense discussions of African history are clearly beyond the scope of the book, surely a page could have been devoted to those important happenings. It would have tied together the theme of how what was happening to Africans was connected to what was happening to African-Americans.

Another weakness is that only a page or two is devoted to the role of women in John Lewis's civil rights organization. The early to mid-1960s was a time of tremendous social upheaval in this country for multiple reasons. The sea change we witnessed in the role of women was an extremely significant outcome of this era. Again, I'm sure it was beyond the scope of the book, but it likely deserved more mention.

As always, the book focuses on John Lewis's efforts, but also touches on many other historical figures. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes across as perhaps less of a hero than we would expect; this might be unintentional. King missed a pivotal march, announcing that he would not be participating shortly before it was set to begin. Shortly thereafter, he started a march but then turned it around without giving prior notice to anyone.

Book Three culminates with the march from Selma to Montgomery, which began on March 21, 1965. Shortly thereafter, the 1965 Voting Rights Act was signed into law. With it, John Lewis ended his participation in the movement.

* * *

During the events depicted in these books, I was too young to be aware of them. I grew up in a lily white Western state. As a child in the 1960s, I recall a television commercial depicting a black child entreating us not to be racists. I was appalled. Why would there be an ad for that? I was quite indignant not only at the accusation of possible racism thrown my way but at the very idea that anyone would be prejudiced against a black child. I had never encountered that in my life; therefore, it did not exist. So ignorant.

Looking back over my subsequent 50 years, it is remarkable how little I learned about the Civil Rights Movement in high school, college, and grad school. This trilogy definitely expanded my knowledge and gave me a much-needed education in these events.

TRIGGER WARNING: Given the subject matter of these graphic novels, there is not much cause to mention human-on-human violence; its presence should be obvious. In fact, the series opens with violence against the peaceful protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. But you should be aware that in Book One on pages 20-35, John Lewis tells of his time tending to the chickens on his family farm. As you might guess, those chickens were not primarily there to be pets.

My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book which in no way influenced my review.
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Top reviews from other countries

Rosemary Standeven
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all humans
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2019
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Kelly A19
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfection - (except for some scribbled dialogue)
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 21, 2020
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Emi Bevacqua
5.0 out of 5 stars Am buying books 2 and 3 of this series immediately!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 26, 2020
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Lucy Ryall
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 16, 2016
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The Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! A highly recommended way to teach history
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2019
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