Who doesn’t love to dive into a moment in history and get lost in it? I love learning, but now that I’m not in college, it’s not as easy to just slide into a class on a fascinating subject or explore a textbook. I love to listen to history-based podcasts and do my own research after reading a great historical fiction book, but a new fascination for me has been history-based graphic novels.
Here are thirteen of my favorites to get you started and to inspire you or any other readers in your home to explore this genre further.
They Called Us Enemy
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement
Fever Flu: The Killer Flu of 1918
What made the influenza of 1918 so exceptionally deadly—and what can modern science help us understand about this tragic episode in history? With a journalist’s discerning eye for facts and an artist’s instinct for true emotion, Sibert Honor recipient Don Brown sets out to answer these questions and more in Fever Year.
I Survived The Sinking of The Titanic, 1912
Ten-year-old George Calder can’t wait to explore every inch of the Titanic, even if his little sister, Phoebe, has to tag along. But when George sneaks away without her and ventures into the first class baggage room, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George’s life changes forever…
The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation
The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation uses the art of illustrated storytelling to breathe life into our nation’s cornerstone principles. Simply put, it is the most enjoyable and groundbreaking way to read the governing document of the United States. Spirited and visually witty, it roves article by article, amendment by amendment, to get at the meaning, background, and enduring relevance of the law of the land.
Raid of No Return
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States joined World War II. And soon after that, young pilots were recruited for a very secret—and very dangerous—raid on Japan. No one in the armed forces had done anything like this raid before, and none of the volunteers expected to escape with their lives. But this was a war unlike any other before, which called for creative thinking as well as bravery.
Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility—he wanted adventure! A captain at eighteen and a major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the Revolution going on in America, he went overseas and fought alongside Alexander Hamilton and George Washington for America’s independence.
One Dead Spy
“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” These are the famous last words of Nathan Hale, a spy for the American rebels in the Revolutionary War. But who was this Nathan Hale? And how did the rebels defeat an army that was bigger, better, stronger, and more heavily armed than they were? One Dead Spy has answers to these questions, as well as stories of ingenuity, close calls with danger, and acts of heroism in the American War of Independence.
Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
Trinity, the debut graphic book by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, depicts the dramatic history of the race to build and the decision to drop the first atomic bomb in World War Two. This sweeping historical narrative traces the spark of invention from the laboratories of nineteenth-century Europe to the massive industrial and scientific efforts of the Manhattan Project, and even transports the reader into a nuclear reaction―into the splitting atoms themselves.
Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father
Alexander Hamilton was one of the most influential figures in United States history—he fought in the Revolutionary War, helped develop the Constitution, and as the first Secretary of the Treasury established landmark economic policy that we still use today. Cut down by a bullet from political rival Aaron Burr, Hamilton has since been immortalized alongside other Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—his likeness even appears on the ten-dollar bill.
The Complete Maus
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust”
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights
The ongoing struggle for women’s rights has spanned human history, touched nearly every culture on Earth, and encompassed a wide range of issues, such as the right to vote, work, get an education, own property, exercise bodily autonomy, and beyond. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era.
The Salem Witch Trials (Graphic History)
The graphic novels in this series tell the story of important events in a narrative format that will capture kids’ imaginations and teach them key facts and details. This one dives into the infamous Salem Witches Trials of 1692.
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