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Nat Turner (Nat Turner)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  560 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered.

In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker d
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harry N. Abrams (first published June 15th 2006)
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Community Reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Oct 10, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ariel
I bought and read this book because of three reasons: (1) it’s graphics and oh the illustrations are so exquisite looking; (2) the book looks a real bargain at P180 with the 280 thick glossy pages and (3) I have been vacillating in finally cracking my copy of 1967 Pulitzer Price-winning and Time 100 book, William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner open. Why? It seems like a daunting book to read: thick, historical and it has a picture of a black man looking over a horizon in a pensive mood t ...more
Nicolo Yu
Apr 18, 2012 Nicolo Yu rated it really liked it
It is said the great masters of the comic book art form can tell a complete story without the use of any dialogue and instead rely solely upon their visual storytelling skills. In his self-published graphic novel, Kyle Baker approaches such rarefied strata by using his powerfully expressive visuals to tell the story of Nat Turner, a once and former American slave, who achieved folk hero status since much of his story has been suppressed. One side sees him as a messiah figure and another as a mon ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Joe by: Marc Reiner
Shelves: graphic-novel
Oh man, can we talk?

This graphic novel was a very intense and worthwhile read. I was into comics as a kid, but graphic novels in the 21st century are of an entirely different make and model. Kyle Baker is a phenomenal artist in his own right, but the combination of just enough writing and his rich renderings still has me riveted. What a history lesson! And I can see why historians would have tried to squash this one. Given the time period, the last thing they would have wanted was a continual sl
Mar 02, 2016 Pronks rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: African American Literature enthusiasts, Graphic Novel fans, American history enthusiasts
Recommended to Pronks by: Professor
Shelves: non-fiction, comics, poc
Unlike most graphic novels that I've read, Kyle Baker's "Nat Turner" features very little on the novel, and very heavy on the graphic; an aspect that I found to immensely enjoy. Based entirely off of "The Confessions of Nat Turner" - which details Turner's recount of his slave rebellion in 1831, filtered through lawyer Thomas Gray - the only text to be found in this book are taken directly from said transcript.

As previously mentioned, despite the distinct lack of text in most pages, the story an
Sep 06, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A brutal, unflinching look at Nat Turner. Mike Wallace may have used the title "The Hate that Hate Produced" when discussing the Nation of Islam, but it perfectly fits the story of Nat Turner, and this book captures the violence and bitterness of slavery and Turner's seething revenge. The illustrations are perfect, and the fact that 90 percent of the comic is wordless, with only a few quotes taken directly from "Confessions" makes it starkly haunting.
Feb 17, 2014 Mariah rated it liked it
This book is a super fast read, and not because there are a significant amount of graphics to text. Personally I enjoyed having to use my mind significantly more with the closure in this story compared to many other graphic novels I have read lately that has almost made me into an automaton when it comes to multiple panels with texts in them. Being able to fill in some of those gaps with my own imagination rather than what the next text bubble says really just give it that realistic feeling to m ...more
Aug 25, 2011 J. rated it liked it
Started VERY strong, very reminiscent of the old wordless books from Lynd Ward, etc. (The only words being small excerpts written by Turner himself.) If the book continued like that, this would be a real masterpiece, but when the big events start happening, we get panels and panels of violence and lists of who went where and killed whom. The interesting parts of the story got snowed under by the facts (although there are a few poignant moments even in the midst of the chaos.) So the brilliance o ...more
Ms. Warchol
Apr 28, 2016 Ms. Warchol rated it really liked it
The artwork was beautiful. There were some moments where I wanted more from the text because I was struggling with understanding everything happening in the images (but maybe that's just me).
Brandon White
Feb 15, 2015 Brandon White rated it it was amazing
I appreciate Kyle Bakers even-handedness in his narration of the Maafa (black holocaust), Nat Turner's life and rebellion. Books like this scare me sometimes because upon being read it can really peel back the layers of "political correctness" and expose a person's true biases, intelligence, and agendas. This book would function as a good tool for America's 12 step program for humanization, particularly step one: breaking denial. Are you one of the ones that IMMEDIATELY digests Nat Turner's sla ...more
Erica Frazier
Feb 14, 2013 Erica Frazier rated it liked it
Nat Turner is a graphic novel that tells the story of an 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. The narrative is well organized and compelling while it is also extremely horrifying and disturbing at times. It is not difficult for me to feel compassion for the slaves and feel disgust toward those that enslave them; however, I will be honest and confess that it makes me severely uncomfortable to cheer for a man who leads a group of people to do the things that the people in Turner's rebellion did. I am ...more
Dichotomy Girl
This book was so very very disturbing to me, it touches so much on Race, History, Religion and basic Right/Wrong....and as much as I hate slavery and the abhorrent acts that were perpetuated on an entire race of people for hundreds of years, nevertheless I cannot celebrate Nat Turner's Rebellion.

This graphic novel is interspersed with passages from Nat Turner's Confession, in which it casually mentions killing babies in their cradles and beheading toddlers. It lists 55 (white) people that were k
Mrs W
Feb 19, 2015 Mrs W rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Nat Turner’s story will disturb and discomfort readers, as it should. He organized a slave rebellion which resulted in the deaths of around 60 white individuals ranging from infants in cradles to old women. This makes Turner a divisive figure. After spending almost 31 years in slavery, were his actions justified?

This book tells the story primarily through wordless illustrations and excerpts from THE CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER (compiled and edited by Thomas R. Gray). The illustrations evoke strong
Jul 25, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
From what I've learned, there's not a lot known about Nat Turner, outside of his confession. Which, some historians can argue, might have been partly fabricated. What is known of Nat Turner is portrayed in two extremely biased ways. Those who think he was a villain, and those who think he was a hero, a man who set a stepping-stone in a path of revolution. And while it's awesome people have their own opinions, I myself have noticed it's a bit difficult to find work on Nat Turner that tells his st ...more
Maughn Gregory
Beautifully disturbing, aesthetically and morally. Nat Turner belongs to that select group of human beings who saw visions, heard voices, and believed that God commanded them to slaughter other human beings, for God's own reasons. Turner's cause could not have been more just, though many of his victims - children and babies - were utterly innocent, except for their unwitting participation in the entrenched system of murderous white supremacy. Baker's artwork juxtaposes the bloodlust of Turner's ...more
Aislinn Boyter
Dec 30, 2014 Aislinn Boyter rated it really liked it
This story has only a few lines of dialog. The rest of this book is told through pictures. The author did very well at relaying the story through image.

I felt sorry for Nat Turner's situation and admired his courage to fight back. However, I was disturbed that he thought God told him to kill children--even babies. I understand that as a slave you might see your cruel master's children as future tyrants over you and your family, but those children should have had the chance to choose whether they
Daniel A.
It has been said that one benchmark of truly great storytelling in comics is whether the writer/artist—because in such stories (excepting a "stunt" that Marvel Comics published some time ago), that person is often one and the same—can tell an effective story without the use of words, only pictures. If that is indeed the benchmark, then veteran comics creator Kyle Baker has written, if not the apotheosis of such storytelling, something that comes very close.

Baker's work Nat Turner tells the true
Danielle Huebner
May 03, 2014 Danielle Huebner rated it liked it
An interesting visualization for the Nat Turner rebellion, an event that is either glossed over or romanticized in textbooks or retellings.

Although there are still a number of problematic representations that Baker uses through out his piece, Kyle Baker successfully fills in the lines of history with the drama, wrath, and violence of the antebellum south leading up to the Nat Turner slave rebellion.

Both visually and framework-wise, Baker does appear to perpetuate the common trope of women's eras
Jul 08, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
After reading the original confession, I'm upping this to four stars.
Baker does a excellent job of including and editing the original text (although mostly it is left intact) so as to best present Turner in his own words and Baker's illustrations capture the intensity of Turner without distortions.

Alex Deats
Mar 16, 2016 Alex Deats rated it it was amazing
This is a graphic novel where the story is driven by pictures. It is the story of Nat Turners slave rebellion. It begins with slaves being taken from their homes in Africa and then goes to Nat's education to his heroic slave rebellion. The pictures are very detailed and in black and white. There is a little text but not much. I think this is a wonderful book to use with a lesson on slavery because it shows what really happened. It is graphic at times and can be unsettling but slavery was a horri ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful graphic history. It does not pull punches, which given the history it depicts, it should not.
It should be assigned in every high school-level early American history class in every state of the Union; south, north, east, west.
And it won't be, as such history is considered too controversial by officials afraid of the far-right States' Rights revisionists and enervated the far-left trigger-warning-on-everything-ists and all history, of any color under the sun, is considered unim
Stewart Tame
Mar 15, 2014 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
Powerful stuff. The always excellent Kyle Baker takes on the story of the Nat Turner rebellion. The book looks hefty but reads quickly as Baker opts to tell the story largely as dialogue-free as possible. At this historical remove from the days of slavery, it's easy to distance oneself--"That was way before my time."--but by using images instead of words, Baker brings the reality and ugliness of slavery to life in ways that all the lessons learned in history class never could. This is a powerful ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
This book is thoroughly disturbing. Kyle Baker uses his talent for facial and bodily expressions to make funny things like Plastic Man and Do These Toys Belong Somewhere? And here he takes that talent and makes all the disgust of slavery brutally apparent in a few images.
There's a lot of historical facts that seem bewildering compared to today's culture: using drums and books was punishable by whipping or dismemberment? I prob. knew that already, but Baker's good at making it seem shocking.
Jan 31, 2015 Jacobi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trades-read
I've been thinking about this book, off and on, since I finished it. It's rare that a comic has this kind of effect on me. I love me some Batman, but most of his stories are popcorn. This was a steak dinner, with A1 sauce...and a hot towel.

The story of Nat Turner isn't one that is told, really told, in school. As Baker mentions in his introduction Turner is usually relegated to a paragraph in most history books,if that, but most all of us know his name and know he was important.

Well, Nat Turne
Jonathan Haukaas
Dec 17, 2013 Jonathan Haukaas rated it really liked it
Kyle Baker takes a piece of literature that by most is neither understood nor fully appreciated, and employs a genre of entertainment usually reserved for super-heroes and Sunday morning papers. His goal in doing this is to use the effect of graphic novels to persuade the readers away from the stereotypical assumptions that precede the story of Nat Turner. Baker understood that the literature was becoming lost on an educational level, as well as among lay readers. As an artist he saw the opportu ...more
Jul 25, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. I left it feeling unsure of the message the author wished to convey. If it's supposed to be a mirror of how brutal slavery was, I'm totally on board. If the author is justifying what happened to the people who were murdered... eh. Not so much. I'm opposed to the death penalty, let alone mob killings of women and children (including infants).

However, it certainly painted a vivid picture of Nat Turner. The author laments that people don't know much about him, and don'
Ariel Caldwell
Feb 16, 2016 Ariel Caldwell rated it really liked it
Like the author, my US History textbooks said "Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in 1831" but never explained anything, like why it was so significant that it made it into the books at all. This graphic novel isn't for the queasy - abduction, torture, mutilation, death and more are all graphically portrayed. And it's done brilliantly. A must-read/must-see, and excellent for those who need few words per page, but an emotional connection with what they read.
Tarah Luke
Sep 27, 2015 Tarah Luke rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing, stunning, and heartbreaking. The graphics werebeautiful and unforgettable, and the way he told Turner's story was both accurate and original. Highly recommended to anyone remotely interested in antebellum slave life and slave revolts. If you don't know anything about Turner, read this. If you do know anything about Turner, read this and assign it to your students. It is life-changing and truly puts a new spin on Turner and his confession.
Jan 06, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
A dramatic, compelling, and very subjective adaptation/illustration of the Nat Turner rebellion. Fans of historical fiction, graphic novels, and the like should read Baker's book. The interweaving of Gray's account with the illustrations makes for effective, dramatic story-telling.

My gripe:

Baker clearly states in his preface that Tuner is "my hero." This early admission ultimately taints the adaptation/illustrations. I recognize that it's his statement, his work of artistic expression. But it ad
anthony e.
May 01, 2012 anthony e. rated it it was amazing
Kyle Baker's artwork never disappoints, but his grasp of the inherent humanity of an event so fraught with turmoil and bloodshed betrays a deftness of writing that is, while not exactly new, note-worthy.

The real gift of this work is two-fold: the use of Turner's own words to narrate events, rather than the fabricated dialogue of traditional comic story-telling, and the almost silent telling of the story. In fact, I think there are only a handful of places where word balloons are utilized, and on
Feb 12, 2014 Monique rated it it was ok
This book provides a quick insight into an untold story, an unsaid history, of a slave uprising and its leader, Nat Turner. The images give visual and social context to The Confession of Nat Turner. But the dark and bloody tale is "sketched" over with a rapidity that is, at times, hard to follow, seeming to indicate that there is a wider and more endemic silence here that needs to be recovered in both visual and verbal social memory.
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