How did the United States get from George Washington, a president often hailed as a moral exemplar, to Donald Trump, a man widely denounced as a disgrace? Is Trump part of the American tradition, or a dreadful aberration?
In the run up to the 2020 US elections on 3rd November, London’s Cartoon Museum is hosting Hail to the Chief?, a special exhibition accompanying the launch of the book Gimson’s Presidents: Brief Lives from Washington to Trump. This spirited and illuminating aide-memoire offers 44 short, fascinating accounts of each president of the United States written by journalist Andrew Gimson and illustrated by cartoonist and author Martin Rowson.
Presenting original artwork by Rowson and labels written by Gimson, the exhibition features the duo’s pick of the best and worst leaders of the United States from the past 231 years.
London-based Andrew Gimson is the author of Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson, published by Simon & Schuster in 2006 and described as “brilliant”, “scintillating” and “an effervescent delight”. He writes for a wide range of newspapers and magazines, and is a contributing editor to ConservativeHome.com.
Martin Rowson is an award-winning political cartoonist whose work appears regularly in the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mirror, Scotsman, Tribune, Index on Censorship and Granta. His previous publications include comic-book adaptations of The Waste Land and Tristram Shandy, as well as Gimson’s Kings & Queens and Gimson’s Prime Ministers. His first novel, Snatches, was published by Cape in 2006.
• Hail to the Chief? Brief Lives of America’s Best and Worst Presidents runs until 31st December 2020 at the Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells Street, London, W1A 3AE | www.cartoonmuseum.org | Donate to Support | Entry included in general admission ticket | Open Thursday 11:00–20:00, Friday – Sunday 11:00–16:00
• Gimson’s Presidents: Brief Lives from Washington to Trump, published by Square Peg earlier this year, is available to purchase at the museum shop (but not, currently online) | Buy it from AmazonUK
Who can name the eight presidents before Lincoln, or the eight presidents after him? Historians tend to shed light on just a handful of leaders: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and perhaps half a dozen others within living memory, leaving at least 30 holders of office if not in total darkness, then at least in deep shadow.
Gimson’s Presidents brings these forgotten figures to the light, and shows just how the United States got from Washington to Trump – as well as what characteristics one might possess should you feel the urge to run for office yourself.
• Watch Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson as part of #LICAFLive 2020 | Check out #LICAFLIVE on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival site https://comicartfestival.com