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Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History
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Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  25 reviews
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 more than simply depict an event in the past; it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world h ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 2nd 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA
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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 ...more
Haley Baker
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 ...more
Edward Sullivan
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.

Jan 07, 2015 Jada added it
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 exactly sy
Nina Chachu
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.
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 ...more
Monica Edinger
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
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 her
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.
Definitely read if it part of a class or just mildly interested in the "legitimate commerce" in Africa during that time. The graphic format really helped me get into what it was talking about, history books and texts typically bore me but this was one of the few i actually enjoyed.
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.
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 ...more
Loren Lee
Graphic novel + intriguing, African history resurrected by modern historians
Chrislyn Ruddy
Interesting. It is a clever way to show history to students and is backed up with credible sources and a historical context. It's a good way to brig history into the classroom to engage those that wouldn't you ally write off a lecture. It's good for asking questions about who tells history and why we know what we know. Do we know enough?
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.
Dec 13, 2012 Sharon added it
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.
I read this for my history class, The Making of Modern Africa. It was a quick, enjoyable read and I'm quite intrigued by the story. It definitely made me think. We'll be discussing it in class this week, and even acting out a trial (so I believe--and yes, this is a college class), so I might come back later to say more once I've digested/analyzed it a bit more. Overall, though, quite interesting.
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.
Leah Coffin
The graphic novel part of this was fine; the academic tome, less so. The author seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of "show, don't tell," as well as with the idea that readers of graphic novels might not overlap that much with readers of academic texts.
This is a wonderful read - history through a graphic novella (and a woman's perspective, no less) with the process for coming up with that representation in thoughtful written sections behind the novella.
Lisa Ainsworth
Trevor Getz uncovers the story of a young slave woman in coastal Africa. I was amazed that part I (the graphic novel) came from part II (the transcript). Really unique story, great for the classroom.
I was required to read this graphic history for one of my history courses. Though I really enjoyed the artwork I actually did not find the specific historical time or place interesting to me.
Don't you just love the gift of a story that was almost lost to us? We have so much to learn about the human condition and dignity. This book helps.
For my Writers on Writing class.
An interesting bit of forgotten history.
A graphic novel that should be read as it is packed with valuable information.
Jon added it
Apr 23, 2015
Rachel added it
Apr 24, 2015
Jaan Williams
Jaan Williams marked it as to-read
Apr 15, 2015
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