The Hammer and The Anvil


Following The Vietnam War: A Graphic History is a graphic drama about the Civil War and two of the most important men of the 19th century. The Hammer and The Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the End of Slavery in America is 160 pages in full color. It is scheduled to be published in July 2012, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. As with The Vietnam War, this volume is scripted by Dwight Zimmerman and illustrated by Wayne Vansant.

The lives of the two men are explored in parallel up until 1863, when Douglass met with Lincoln in the White House to discuss the creation of Negro Army units and equal pay for black soldiers, and thereafter, including the assassination of the president and the later death of the former slave who became America’s most strident and eloquent voice for justice and freedom.



In this engaging and insightful graphic biography, Zimmerman reprises his partnership with Vansant from The Vietnam War: A Graphic History to present an account of two of the most important figures of 19th-century U.S. history: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. For both men, the book begins at the beginning, showing the challenges that they faced as children, their efforts to overcome difficult circumstances, and the very real impact both men had on shaping the social and political consciousness of their times. It draws parallels between the humble circumstances of their early years, but it does so with subtlety, allowing the reader to recognize the connections for themselves. The unsentimental portraits look at the difficulties both men faced and what motivated them: racial equality for Douglass and the preservation of the Union for Lincoln, with the conviction that slavery would eventually come to an end. Vansant uses a simple but effective technique of moving between two different monochromatic color palettes when switching between the two, culminating in full-color illustrations when the men finally meet. Combined with Zimmerman’s narrative, it’s a compelling look at two of the most important figures in American history.

—Publishers Weekly


“An utterly ingenious graphic history of one of the most important stories in American history—the strikingly parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln that eventually converged in friendship. Powerfully illustrated and written, The Hammer and the Anvil highlights for young readers, and anyone interested in graphic stories, the central debates of the Civil War era and of our own time: race, freedom, citizenship, state versus federal government, and the meaning of the American Dream.”

—John Stauffer, author of
Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass
and Abraham Lincoln


The Hammer and the Anvil makes the extraordinary moment that brought Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass together accessible for young readers. It’s an eye opener.”

—Ira Berlin, author of The Making of African America


The Hammer and the Anvil is an ingenious and original telling of the most important story in our nation’s history through the lives of the two greatest Americans of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Students, teachers, and general readers—even those who think history is not for them—will find this an exciting, compelling read. A brilliant work!”

—Professor James G. Basker, President
of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History


“A highly original, historically accurate, and utterly irresistible take on the lives and contributions of those two giants, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The book raises the genre of “graphic history” to a new level. Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Wayne Vansant have produced a page-turner that will engage young readers, and no doubt delight their parents, too.”

—Harold Holzer,
Chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation


The title refers to a military technique, used by Civil War generals Sherman and Grant, of trapping an enemy between a stationary command (the anvil) and a hard-hitting mobile command (the hammer). Here the hammer and anvil concept relates to the collaborative impact of two iconic men: the brilliant escaped slave and leader Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Through their intertwined stories, Zimmerman recounts the history of slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation. Zimmerman and Vansant collaborated on the award-winning The Vietnam War: A Graphic History (2009). The foreword is by Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson. Full-color, realistic art.

—Library Journal

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