George McGovern and the Democratic Insurgents


George McGovern and the Democratic Insurgents

The Best Campaign and Political Posters of the Last Fifty Years

Hal Elliott Wert
Foreword by Frank Mankiewicz
Photographs by Robert Chase Heishman

264 pages
290 illustrations


November 2015


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

South Dakota senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid was one of the most memorable campaigns in American political history. Despite McGovern’s landslide loss to the incumbent Richard Nixon, McGovern’s campaign attracted widespread grassroots support, and his campaign posters represent a landmark in the history of U.S. campaign memorabilia in terms of the sheer number and quality of posters produced in support of the candidate. Like Barack Obama’s run for the presidency in 2008, McGovern’s campaign stoked the imagination of the artistic community. World-famous artists—including Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Larry Rivers, Sam Francis, Thomas W. Benton, Sister Corita, and Paul Davis—produced posters in support of McGovern that captured a generation’s efforts to bring about major political change.
George McGovern and the Democratic Insurgents, with nearly three hundred stunning images, provides an illustrated journey through the protest and psychedelic rock posters of the 1960s, the posters of Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign, the poster explosion of George McGovern’s 1972 campaign, and the best campaign posters from 1976 to 2012. A historical examination of the graphic precedents for this politicized art form, Hal Elliott Wert’s collection offers readers a singular insight into artistic invention and activism in the United States.

Author Bio

Hal Elliott Wert is a professor of history at the Kansas City Art Institute. He is the author of Hoover, the Fishing President: Portrait of the Private Man and His Life Outdoors and Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints. Frank Mankiewicz (1924–2014) was a journalist, served as the presidential campaign press secretary for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 and as the campaign director for 1972 presidential nominee George McGovern, and was a former president of National Public Radio. Robert Chase Heishman is an artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois. His work is held in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center.


"The images on these earlier posters serve as powerful reminders of another era when our deepest differences could be expressed without descending into what may become our darkest hour."—Nancy Love, New Political Science

"A beautiful book."—Ralph Young, Great Plains Research

“Hal Wert transports the reader back to a time when wheat paste campaigns were as incendiary and potent a political weapon as a Swiftboat ad is today. Psychedelic, defiant, and poignant, the political posters Wert has gathered together in this book capture the zeitgeist of the era.”—Daniel Joseph Watkins, author of Thomas W. Benton: Artist/Activist

“This expertly curated collection of poster art is a vivid but poignant reminder of the turbulent years when politicians could dare to reflect the ideals of the counter-culture. Evocative and powerful, these rare artifacts bring historic dreams and doomed crusades back to life.”—Peter Doggett, author of There’s a Riot Going On

“You don’t have to be a George McGovern fan to appreciate Hal Wert’s latest book, but if you are, you’re in for a treat. Hal Wert combines art, music, politics, and history, along with a fascinating array of posters throughout the decades, to provide a visual feast with plenty of accompanying substance and historical context.”—Laurie Langland, university archivist at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota 

“A valuable contribution to understanding and appreciating the power of pictorial imagery to persuade people.”—Ann McGovern, daughter of George McGovern

“Wert has assembled an impressive array of official and unofficial artworks that reveal the rich intersection of electoral, countercultural, and mass-movement posters that sought to reframe American society.”—Lincoln Cushing, author of All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area

Table of Contents

Foreword by Frank Mankiewicz    
Introduction: Art at the Heart of Politics    
1. The Sixties Poster Awakening    
2. The Innovative Posters of the 1968 Campaign of Eugene McCarthy    
3. George McGovern and the Antiwar Poster from 1969 to1972    
4. The McGovern Poster Explosion of 1972    
Epilogue: The Campaign Poster since 1972    

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