The Beats; A Graphic History

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-03-17
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang
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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


This revelatory and exhilarating and funny book not only tells us of the Beat generation, but of a time when we as individuals felt truly free. It is as fresh and pertinent as the latest scholarly history only far more entertaining--Studs Terkel.

Author Biography

Harvey Pekar is best known for his graphic autobiography, American Splendor, based on his long-running comic-book series that was turned into a 2003 film of the same name. Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer at Brown University.

Table of Contents

“Editor Paul Buhle’s graphic history The Beats—with riffs from cats such as Harvey Pekar and Trina Robbins—burns like a Roman candle.” —Vanity Fair
The Beats is as fresh and pertinent as the latest scholarly history, only far more entertaining.” —Studs Terkel
“A new angle on a familiar story . . . [The Beats] gives the hipsters back their body language. In a book that is largely about license and the enlightened rebel, it is easy to find reflections of both in the graphic form.” John Leland, The New York Times Book Review
“Well researched and . . . absorbing.” —Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
“Eye-catching . . . An illustrated look back at a very real part of American pop-culture history, when beat culture of the ’40s and ’50s—sandwiched between the improvisational nature of jazz and the recklessness of rock ’n’ roll—began to speak to a part of a generation at odds with mainstream society. One word sums it up: Cool.” —Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“The Beats: A Graphic History is everything a radical history should be: critical, admiring, quirky and apologetic . . . From cover to cover, The Beats is a wonderful history of a complicated and misunderstood cultural movement—its achievements, its place in history, its flaws and its brilliance. The graphic novel format is perfect for the subject—straddling the line between respectability and disreputableness just as the Beats themselves did.” —Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
“History with a deeper perspective . . . This fearless, substantial history entertains as it uncovers.” —Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe
“Combines nuts-and-bolts prose with outstanding art . . . The Beats manages to make the scene new again on the sheer strength of artistic play.” —Richard Gehr, Columbia Journalism Review
“This lively graphic history spotlights the 1950s youth revolt that said no to conformity and opened the way to a new world of unfettered imagination.” —Franklin Rosemont, cofounder of the Chicago Surrealist Group
“Capturing the flavor of that poetic era with style and wit, The Beats is a slice of countercultural history that’s enhanced by its unique visual format.” —Paul Krassner, author of One Hand Jerking: Reports from an Investigative Satirist
“This graphic history has a grittiness and attention to difficult anecdote that brings a classic American romantic venture, with all its deviant sexual and economic ‘crazy wisdom,’ down to the gritty realism of pen-and-ink earth.” —Edward Sanders, author of America: A History in Verse
“Turns hipster history into a digestible, fun read.” —Kathleen Pierce, Lowell Sun (Massachusetts)
“At its best, which is quite good indeed, The Beats reflects the creative energy of the movement it chronicles.” Peter Gutiérrez, Graphic Novel Reporter
The Beats stands as an ambitiously constructed, clever tribute.” Matthew Schniper, Colorado Springs Independent
The Beats serves to introduce an American cultural phenomenon to a new audience while giving some of its less well-known players fresh exposure . . . The comics celebrate the individuals that made up the anti-establishment of the times and whose art and social action outlives them. The stories are drawn by an eclectic mix of cartoonists and told by characters—including Pekar—every bit as individualistic as their subjects.” —Cabbage Rabbit, Cabbage Rabbit Review of Books & Music
“A well-informed, engaging, and dynamic presentation of the core precursors and descendants of the Beat ethos in both literary and popular American life . . . Belongs in every library where any Beat literature has a home. This is a perfect gateway to both the art and the era for today’s teens to access the Beat world.” —Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal

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