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Signs of Resistance: A Visual History of Protest in America

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“Clever images of dissent are not a recent phenomenon in the United States. . . . [Signs of Resistance is] visually fascinating. . . . [and] there is bigly wit here, too.” —The Washington Post In hundreds of iconic, smart, angry, clever, unforgettable images, Signs of Resistance chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power. Two “Clever images of dissent are not a recent phenomenon in the United States. . . . [Signs of Resistance is] visually fascinating. . . . [and] there is bigly wit here, too.” —The Washington Post In hundreds of iconic, smart, angry, clever, unforgettable images, Signs of Resistance chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power. Two hundred and forty images—from British rule and women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War; from women’s equality and Black Lives Matter to the actions of our forty-fifth president and the Women’s March—offer an inspiring, optimistic, and visually galvanizing history lesson about the power people have when they take to the streets and stand up for what’s right.


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“Clever images of dissent are not a recent phenomenon in the United States. . . . [Signs of Resistance is] visually fascinating. . . . [and] there is bigly wit here, too.” —The Washington Post In hundreds of iconic, smart, angry, clever, unforgettable images, Signs of Resistance chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power. Two “Clever images of dissent are not a recent phenomenon in the United States. . . . [Signs of Resistance is] visually fascinating. . . . [and] there is bigly wit here, too.” —The Washington Post In hundreds of iconic, smart, angry, clever, unforgettable images, Signs of Resistance chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power. Two hundred and forty images—from British rule and women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War; from women’s equality and Black Lives Matter to the actions of our forty-fifth president and the Women’s March—offer an inspiring, optimistic, and visually galvanizing history lesson about the power people have when they take to the streets and stand up for what’s right.

30 review for Signs of Resistance: A Visual History of Protest in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fred Klein

    I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was immediately interested, especially when she talked about how some of our iconic political signs did not have the origins we assume, notably the famous Rosie the Riveter sign. This is, for the most part, a picture book with the author's very short explanations of their history. This is a book focusing on protest, and the author is unapologetically anti-Trump, so no one should be surprised that it has a liberal bias. I presume that most people who I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was immediately interested, especially when she talked about how some of our iconic political signs did not have the origins we assume, notably the famous Rosie the Riveter sign. This is, for the most part, a picture book with the author's very short explanations of their history. This is a book focusing on protest, and the author is unapologetically anti-Trump, so no one should be surprised that it has a liberal bias. I presume that most people who pick up this book will be fine with that, but even I was annoyed when I detected the author's unquestioning support of a movement that I don't. But I am not looking to start a debate here so I won't say which movement that is.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Signs of Resistance is a visual history mostly of the US's recent history with protest, such as the feminist battles for suffrage and other social, political, and economic rights, the AIDS protests, and war protests for Vietnam the the Gulf Wars. Other reviewers have noted that the book has a distinct anti-Trump slant. This shouldn't surprise anyone, as Siegler says in the introduction that this documentation of other american protests is a response to the Trump administration and a way to show Signs of Resistance is a visual history mostly of the US's recent history with protest, such as the feminist battles for suffrage and other social, political, and economic rights, the AIDS protests, and war protests for Vietnam the the Gulf Wars. Other reviewers have noted that the book has a distinct anti-Trump slant. This shouldn't surprise anyone, as Siegler says in the introduction that this documentation of other american protests is a response to the Trump administration and a way to show other appalled, demoralized people that "that there have been other dark, shameful chapters in American history, and yet somehow democracy survived. Because we did what we do best: We kept fighting" (Siegler, Introduction). All in all, Signs of Resistance is a good overview of famous protest artwork associated with other major sociopolitical movements, and is sprinkled throughout with commentary on what makes those pieces so powerful and enduring. It is a book that I am happy to have purchased and one that I would recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Signs of Resistance is outstanding! It pulls together protest art from throughout America's history to show how it has grown and changed, There is humor used both in the artwork and in the text. This book has much to use with students, however, it also has some that would not work well in elementary or some middle schools. Well done, Bonnie Siegler!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Fohl

    This is a must have. How many books cover American history through protest art? I was reading it at the dentist and multiple people wanted a copy. Lots of humor and powerful art. The descriptions are thorough and every artist gets credit. Wanna know the true origin of Rosie the riveter? I kinda wish some of the “tea party” signs were included to show the hate that was brewing up before trump. What I learned: “our bodies ourselves” was written by a collective of women who met at a liberation This is a must have. How many books cover American history through protest art? I was reading it at the dentist and multiple people wanted a copy. Lots of humor and powerful art. The descriptions are thorough and every artist gets credit. Wanna know the true origin of Rosie the riveter? I kinda wish some of the “tea party” signs were included to show the hate that was brewing up before trump. What I learned: “our bodies ourselves” was written by a collective of women who met at a liberation conference. It sold millions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dori

    Interesting take on American history thru protest signs and images, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Inspiring and fascinating!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate Guinan

    Astounding, important and enlightening....the use of images and words have been important since day one of this country to convey propaganda by the government and opposition to it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Hard to resist "Signs of Resistance" based on the cover alone. This is an important subject with the potential to draw in all kinds of readers, even those who might resist standard historical texts. The role of art and symbolism in protest work is also compelling-- how posters may draw on famous images or quotes to add power to the cause at hand. My expectations are high and perhaps unfair, but I have the sense that the book would have benefitted from more editing and more in depth coverage of Hard to resist "Signs of Resistance" based on the cover alone. This is an important subject with the potential to draw in all kinds of readers, even those who might resist standard historical texts. The role of art and symbolism in protest work is also compelling-- how posters may draw on famous images or quotes to add power to the cause at hand. My expectations are high and perhaps unfair, but I have the sense that the book would have benefitted from more editing and more in depth coverage of different movements and particular pieces of art. I really was delighted, for instance, that the book begins with the colonial era but I was disappointed that the closing pages are so grounded in the present without a sense of where we are headed. Maybe that's an unfair expectation-- no one has a crystal ball. But I think the timeliness of this subject may have pressured the author to get this book out and there was a cost. There are some inconsistencies and missed opportunities. For instance, early on in the colonial section a heading reads "For Americans in the revolutionary era, the art of dissent was dictated by the technology available. It was all about the words themselves, rather than persuasion through style." There are three posters on the page, and two of them have elaborate graphic designs-- only one of the posters uses words exclusively-- and so the heading seems to be contradicted by the examples at hand. In the anti-draft section, there is a vein of sexism that's unremarked upon (and that was a huge phenomenon in the time frame-- there's so much scholarship on this). The famous sixties era"Girls say yes to boys say no" poster reveals a lot about imbalanced gender politics in the period. The text observes "resisting the draft was sexy,"-- yes, effective technique (the Baez sisters are featured) but there is a lot more to consider about the dynamics here and I don't recall any discussion of this aspect anywhere in the text. To her credit, the author makes a point of showing anti-progressive poster art in different periods-- the Know-Nothings, for instance, and the Palin campaign's co-opting of Rosie the Riveter. Siegler mentions that the Irish were particularly targeted in the anti-immigration movements of the late 80s but she could have included an enlightening discussion of the reasons why artists represented the Irish features and form as ape-like, and the significance of this custom in political cartoons of the period. It's great to see the unbridled enthusiasm in the other reviews, and I feel like a wet blanket. So please be clear that by raising these observations I am holding this work to a high standard. I love the topic and really enjoyed the images. There are some real gems I had never seen before (the 1778 rebus-style poster is especially compelling). I appreciated the moments where Siegler singled out particular artists (the great Corita Kent and Kiyoshi Kuromiya, whose career spanned multiple movements). It's because this topic is so significant that I would love to see more extensive analysis of this moving and extraordinary art form, with a deeper interpretation of the mores and issues of the periods reflected by this art.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    I originally bought this book for the recent events but it's actually a wonderful historical document that goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War! It covers many of the basic conflicts in U.S. history and shows that resistance has been an essential part of our national identity. Seeing all this evidence of creative protest makes me proud to be an American. Some of these signs brought back memories from my own experiences in protests. Some of the signs are from before my time and added to I originally bought this book for the recent events but it's actually a wonderful historical document that goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War! It covers many of the basic conflicts in U.S. history and shows that resistance has been an essential part of our national identity. Seeing all this evidence of creative protest makes me proud to be an American. Some of these signs brought back memories from my own experiences in protests. Some of the signs are from before my time and added to my education about our country. I recommend this book to all citizens of the USA....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharla

    Siegler gives you just enough information on each 'sign' while letting it speak for itself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    After her total frustration with the 2016 presidential election outcome, graphic designer Bonnie Siegler @bonnie8point5 marched in the Women's March and then began researching what people had done in the past to push back against political and social injustices. She compiled her research into a visually stunning (and intentionally shocking) book, “Signs of Resistance”. This book spans over 250 years of American political and protest art: --Think Benjamin Franklin’s famous “Join, or Die” sectioned After her total frustration with the 2016 presidential election outcome, graphic designer Bonnie Siegler @bonnie8point5 marched in the Women's March and then began researching what people had done in the past to push back against political and social injustices. She compiled her research into a visually stunning (and intentionally shocking) book, “Signs of Resistance”. This book spans over 250 years of American political and protest art: --Think Benjamin Franklin’s famous “Join, or Die” sectioned snake, urging the early colonies to unite. --Think about the patriotic ideals Uncle Sam or Rosie the Riveter conjure in your mind. --Think Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster. --Think Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” red hats. Siegler supplies a short description with each of the images which will make you run to your computer to try to learn everything you didn't know about a particular event or time period. Bonnie Siegler studied graphic design at Carnegie Mellon University, worked at MTV, and has taught in the graduate programs at Yale University and the School of Visual Arts. She has been voted one of the 50 most influential designers working today by Graphic Design USA. She now runs her award-winning design studio Eight and a Half and most recently she was the creative director of the Trump parody memoir “You Can’t Spell America Without Me” by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen. Her list of design work credentials is beyond impressive, but this book has launched her in front of a new audience of readers. Be sure to grab a copy for yourself, your favorite protestors, and anyone else who is fed up and not gonna take it anymore!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    An across the political spectrum collection of flyers, cartoons, and posters. Chapters on Independence, Immigration, Rights, and War. It's interesting to see how the country expressed social commentary before GIFs and tweets. Classic "Rosie The Riveter" poster adopted by Chicana and White Nationalist activists. I'd recommend the paperback over the electronic edition.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Funny, surprising, terrifying and inspiring all wrapped-up between two cardboard covers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Prima Seadiva

    3.5 stars I took off half a star because the captions were in the ubiquitous grey (!) tiny sans serif typeface so popular currently. This is not the first book I have encountered this poor design factor. The author is a graphic designer too. There was plenty of room on pages for something slightly larger and darker. Other parts of the book were in readable type size. Impossible to read without making my eyes go crazy even with good light and magnification after about 15 minutes. It's more 3.5 stars I took off half a star because the captions were in the ubiquitous grey (!) tiny sans serif typeface so popular currently. This is not the first book I have encountered this poor design factor. The author is a graphic designer too. There was plenty of room on pages for something slightly larger and darker. Other parts of the book were in readable type size. Impossible to read without making my eyes go crazy even with good light and magnification after about 15 minutes. It's more distracting to be unable to read than to see dark type next visuals. Good design can include legibility to a wide range of sight abilities. The visuals were excellent. There is a good selection of examples from the 18th century onward, covering topics of political resistance across the spectrum. The information included is interesting. So even though it was a struggle to read it was worth reading. If the type doesn't impede you the reading experience will be much better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Morgan

    I loved this book! Chronicles protests all throughout American history. Would make a great coffee table book or a gift for friends. What I also love about it is that each photo has an in-depth description, so not only is this book interesting to flip through and look at but you can actually read the entire thing as well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassey

    Excellent overview

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason Beyer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ana Lovett.

  19. 4 out of 5

    JMCR

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clarissa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Boyer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katharine F

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Powers

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan C

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie Campbell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Wallace

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Ross

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

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