Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

Trevor R. Getz Liz Clarke

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Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

Abina and the Important Men A Graphic History Abina and the Important Men is a compelling and powerfully illustrated graphic history based on an court transcript of a West African woman named Abina who was wrongfully enslaved and took her c

  • Title: Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History
  • Author: Trevor R. Getz Liz Clarke
  • ISBN: 9780199844395
  • Page: 161
  • Format: Paperback
  • Abina and the Important Men is a compelling and powerfully illustrated graphic history based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court The book is a microhistory that does much than simply depict an event in the past it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world hAbina and the Important Men is a compelling and powerfully illustrated graphic history based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court The book is a microhistory that does much than simply depict an event in the past it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world history and to reveal the processes by which history is made The story of Abina Mansah a woman without history who was wrongfully enslaved, escaped to British controlled territory, and then took her former master to court takes place in the complex world of the Gold Coast at the onset of late nineteenth century colonialism Slavery becomes a contested ground, as cultural practices collide with an emerging wage economy and British officials turn a blind eye to the presence of underpaid domestic workers in the households of African merchants The main scenes of the story take place in the courtroom, where Abina strives to convince a series of important men a British judge, two Euro African attorneys, a wealthy African country gentleman, and a jury of local leaders that her rights matter Am I free Abina inquires Throughout both the court case and the flashbacks that dramatically depict her life in servitude, these men strive to silence Abina and to impose their own understandings and meanings upon her The story seems to conclude with the short term success of the important men, as Abina loses her case But it doesn t end there Abina is eventually redeemed Her testimony is uncovered in the dusty archives by Trevor Getz and, through Liz Clarke s illustrations, becomes a graphic history read by people around the world In this way, the reader takes an active part in the story along with the illustrator, the author, and Abina herself Following the graphic history in Part I, Parts II V provide detailed historical context for the story, a reading guide that reconstructs and deconstructs the methods used to interpret the story, and strategies for using Abina in various classroom settings.

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      161 Trevor R. Getz Liz Clarke
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      Posted by:Trevor R. Getz Liz Clarke
      Published :2018-04-14T11:35:06+00:00

    One thought on “Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

    1. Karen on said:

      In general, I found this book to be highly accessible and fun. However, after having read 60 undergrad 100-level papers which involved analyzing this as both a primary and secondary source, the dangers of doing history in this way became strikingly apparent. Students, at least mine, were unable to recognize places where it should be clear that the author is inserting his interpretation of the events. The most frustrating of these places, and I think a poor choice on Getz's account, comes at the [...]

    2. Edward Sullivan on said:

      A fascinating "graphic history" based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman who was enslaved, escaped to British-controlled territory, and took her case to court. The graphic history is followed by an insightful historical context of the story, a reading guide reconstructing and deconstructing the methods used to interpret the story, and strategies for using Abina in classroom settings of various levels. A great study for world history course.

    3. Abriana on said:

      Read this for class, didn't love it. It's a very creative take on history which is cool and all, but it was hard not to be critical of.

    4. Nina Chachu on said:

      A court case in Cape Coast in 1876 is brought to life as a graphic narrative. This book is obviously meant to be used in educational institutions at all levels from high school to university. I found it very interesting and challenging, yet written in such a way that is easy to understand.

    5. Chris Gager on said:

      I only skimmed and browsed this book. Don't recall where I found it. The graphic part is kind of average and uninteresting, probably because it was meant to be serious. The entire book is a work of history, as it examines the persistence of slavery in the Gold Coast(now Ghana) in the later 19th century. I once had a conversation with a guy from Guinea(farther north along the W. African coast) who told me that his father had slaves. That was about 1998 and the guy was almost 60, so that would pu [...]

    6. Jessica on said:

      History is more than a retelling of a story. There are always several points of view to consider. One must also recognize that just because a person was not wealthy, in a seat of power or a well-known citizen should not invalidate what perspective a person has to offer. We are realizing that people of low status or impoverished or slaves have often not had their stories archived. In the past it was was (sadly and horribly) thought that their stories would not have much to offer. However, we have [...]

    7. J Dev on said:

      An extraordinary book that should be read as more than a graphic history. In fact, the graphic novel portion was far from what made the book great. While the illustrations help readers visualize and engage with the primary source, a fairly dry court transcript, the best parts of the book are where the writers go back through the process of creating the book and their approaches to writing this kind of history. In the second edition they even go so far as to engage with critics and responses to t [...]

    8. Chelsea on said:

      This seems like such a perfect book for teaching college students (AP History students?) about the process of doing academic historical research. It takes a seemingly slight bit of historical data and adds layers and layers of research, historical context, and differing perspectives on the story, benefiting from a second edition in a way few books I have read do. I loved it.

    9. Librarian Laura on said:

      Bought this in the hope that I could use it with high school students, and after reading, have decided against it for now. While interesting for me, it's just not emotionally compelling enough for them.

    10. Karen (The Book Rookie) on said:

      An important story that was poorly executed. The text felt forced and the illustrations were rough. DNF

    11. Monica Edinger on said:

      A bit more about this on my blog. Outstanding. This book seems to have gone under-the-radar in the broader world and it shouldn't have. I had seen something about it a while back and finally had the time to read it and it is fantastic. It is, as the subtitle indicates, a graphic history. That is, it is a history book and one unapologetically didactic. And as far as I know, pretty unique.The book consists of several parts. The first is an illustrated "graphic history" (so described in the flap co [...]

    12. kripsoo on said:

      Readers will be captivated and inspired by this graphic page-turner of a young African girl's trial in Africa Gold Coast While Abina experience of being separated from family and friends early in life and sold to a series of slave owners was not unusual in 1876 Ghana it was extraordinary that Abina not only escaped captivity but subsequently brought her slave owner to trial Fascinating aspects of Gold Coast daily life social customs and political dynamics are presented as part of this true life [...]

    13. Akoss on said:

      This is the story of Abina Mansah, a young woman who took her former master to court for making her a slave at a time when slavery was abolished. The story took place in the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) in 1876.The book is sectionalized in several parts. One for the graphic "novel" depicting Abina's story in a graphic style. Another part was the actual court transcripts from back then. The other parts where the historical context, a reading guide, then a classroom guide.This was my first time [...]

    14. Jada on said:

      This very earnest book that gives voice to a young woman who suffered an injustice has an innovative format and not-so-great artwork.In 1876, after slavery was abolished in the British Empire, a courageous and bold young woman who was enslaved against her will took her case to her local court. She placed her hope in the colonial British judicial system of West Africa and like many people today, she was not able to present her case to a jury of peers but to “important men” who were not exactl [...]

    15. Haley Baker on said:

      Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History is a graphic novel that I read in my History of Africa course last year. Interestingly, the text begins as a graphic novel. At first, it was challenging to understand the sequence of events because it looked like a bunch of comic strips. However, after a while I caught on to the fluency and ended up enjoying the the text! Because it is a graphic novel, it creates clear visuals for the reader. The storyline revolves around an African American woman w [...]

    16. Talia on said:

      In the late 1800s, slavery is outlawed in West Africa by the British, but some farm owners still have slaves, mainly young girls who are assumed not to run away. A woman named Abina escapes her master and tries to sue him for her freedom, claiming that she never had free will and simply wanting to be heard and acknowledged. This graphic novel is based off of an actual court transcript that outlines Abina’s story.Spoiler alert: this isn’t a happy story. But the story is not the important part [...]

    17. Kim on said:

      I read this anticipating a graphic novel depicting the story of an African woman facing down "the Important Men" to get what she felt was her due. And I got that. But Abina and the Important Men is much more of a lesson on how to be a historian than it is a graphic portrayal of a historical event.Getz does an admirable job---in my admittedly non-historian perspective---of showing how historians do their work: looking at primary sources of several varieties, piecing together the context for those [...]

    18. Bookwarrior on said:

      This graphic novel is a well-written story about a slave, Abina, and her attempt at becoming a free woman in the eyes of the British colony's court in West Africa. The pictures are good and thoroughly explain the story in an easy to read manner. The story is based off of a court transcript, so after the graphic novel part they have (in 2nd edition at least) the actual transcript, a section on historical context, a reading guide, and engaging Abina with reading questions, further resources, and a [...]

    19. J on said:

      I found this rather enjoyable. I thought that the graphic portion of the novel was perhaps the weakest point, but it was still well constructed. My favorite part of this was the structure of the book. It starts with the graphic portion (secondary source), then goes to the court transcript (primary source), followed by sections on historical context, a reading guide, and a guide on how to go about teaching Abina in the classroom. Overall, I thought this was very refreshing, and the story was incr [...]

    20. Joe Moss on said:

      Readers interested in history, Africa, and especially those who value the story of those whose voices have been silenced or were never heard in the first place would enjoy this book. It combines a graphic novel story about slavery in 19th Century Gold Coast (now Ghana) with a lesson in how historians interpret and share the stories of the past. The graphic novel part of the book can serve as an easy reader for young readers, and the rest of the material makes it useful as an alternative textbook [...]

    21. Sharon on said:

      A "graphic history" presentation of an 1876 case in which a young woman takes her former master to court for enslaving her. The book presents an illustrated version of the story, followed by the actual court transcript, summaries of the historical period and a discussion of how the reader decides who to believe in historical matters. Written to be used for discussion in a high school class. Would also be very useful for homeschooling.

    22. Sydney Bollinger on said:

      Good book for historical context-- tells an typically unheard story and promotes discussion on European imperialism/colonialism & its effects on native civilizations to current African nations. Highly recommend, even though author & artist took a lot of license with the graphic novel portion (although this section really humanizes the people involved). **Read this for Survey of World History (Honors)

    23. Angel Mojica on said:

      I really like this book. I like this book because Getz really shows how Abina went through the court case. Also i like how he put all of his information of Ghana in that time of Abolished slavery and how it effected the people of Ghana. The book was an awesome way of explaining Abina because she was a slave girl after slavery and wanting to get away from her master and I like the fact that Abina loses in the end because it really shows that not all of history has to be about famous people.

    24. Elizabeth on said:

      This is an unusual approach to telling history. The combination of graphic novel with primary source documents and scholarly interpretation yields a rich understanding of the situation and events that lie at the heart of the book. This work would serve a non-researcher well, but I would not recommend it for research, as the authors are not consistently clear on where their interpretations go beyond the primary source evidence in the graphic novel section of the book.

    25. P. on said:

      To be accurate, I read the comic portion of the book and not the transcription or other textual aspects (which take up about half the book itself). Not because I didn't want to read them, but because of time constraints. I think the idea for this project is great! I love primary sources, and it's a good idea to find ways to spread the love. Abina's story doesn't get neatly wrapped up, and that's a good discussion point for history students of all ages.

    26. Conor on said:

      Very good and very important graphic history. Unfortunately the revisions of the Second Edition seem to have been rushed, as the updated version is filled with typographical errors. Still, it's a must-read for students of history in general, as well as for anyone interested in the graphic form, the work that historians do, and histories of colonialism and gender.

    27. Tanya on said:

      Part graphic novel, part court transcript, and part history of Ghana this book covers the story of a girl who runs away from her master on the Gold Coast and then goes to court to get her freedom. It's pretty cool to get to read the actual court transcript from the 1876 and the graphic novel is a easy-to-read version of the actual events.

    28. Joyce on said:

      The artwork's really good, so is the story--definitely gets you thinking about who tells the story--I didn't read the documentation and other stuff in the books. I suppose there's a lesson in there that if you stand up for what is right, it's not wasted, because you never know what difference it might make. Like us reading about it now.

    29. Stacey Marie on said:

      Ok. So the historical stuff and the fact this is based on a true story was pretty cool. The artwork however was for the most part, terrible. Also half this book is written in non-fiction prose, since it includes context chapters etc. But if you're going to make a graphic novel you shouldn't need to include a novel explaining the novel. You know?Anyway, still worth a read.

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