By Will Broaddus
---- — One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, Americans are still coming to terms with the legacy of this conflict.
“It’s such a very complex part of our history,” said Rebecca Shea, administrative librarian at the Hamilton-Wenham Library. “To foster understanding about what it was like back then is important.”
That’s why the library, for its seventh annual community read program, has chosen “The Hammer and the Anvil,” written by military expert Dwight Zimmerman.
The book examines the major issue dividing the country — slavery — through two pivotal figures of the time: journalist, orator and former slave Frederick Douglass, and President Abraham Lincoln.
“The Hammer and the Anvil,” which includes illustrations by Wayne Vansant, is the first graphic history to be chosen for a community read program at Hamilton-Wenham.
“Teens can read it, too; it’s an accessible format,” Shea said.
Copies are currently available at the library but demand is high, and patrons may need to reserve a copy.
The program will culminate with a visit from the author at Gordon College on Nov. 7, but will be supplemented with additional programs at the library throughout October. These include discussions of local history, such as “Slavery to Freedom: Blacks in Beverly,” led by Terri McFadden of the Beverly Historical Society, and “Local Boys Off to War,” with Scott Jewell.
There will be sessions on researching ancestors who may have served in the war, and on photography in the Civil War, which was sometimes shot with stereo cameras that created three-dimensional images.
Montserrat College of Art professors Adam Miller and Blyth Hazen will discuss the art of creating graphic novels, and the history of comic books that preceded them.
Two traveling exhibits will be presented at the library and discussed in depth at a panel discussion on Oct. 16.
“Fire and Thunder, Massachusetts Blacks in the Civil War,” is on loan from the Massachusetts State Archives. “Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It,” was developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which also gave a grant to the library.
“Their funding has provided for many of these programs,” Shea said.