Focus on the John Hay Library, Number 5
Featuring new, interesting, and unusual items 
from the Library's Special Collections

Remembering 'Herblock'
1909 - 2001

An original drawing by Herbert Block
in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection


The Pulitzer-prize winner, Herbert L. Block, passed away at the beginning of October, 2001, at the age of 91. Known for his acerbic pen drawings, he caricatured presidents from Hoover to George W. Bush, and covered nearly every major world event and politician from the Depression to Watergate and beyond.

The winner of three Pulitzer prizes, he won his first in 1942. The next year, Block joined the United States Army where his talents for cartooning were put to good use by the Information and Education Division. He reached the rank of sergeant before being mustered out in 1946. He found work immediately with The Washington Post and stayed with the paper for the rest of his career. His last cartoon appeared in August 2001.

Among the numerous original drawings depicting World War Two held by the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection is a fine original drawing by 'Herblock.' Drawn in black and white ink and pencil, it depicts a lone American G.I. standing amidst the debris of war - a discarded Japanese flag and a broken staff. With his rifle slung over his shoulder and his helmet strap grasped in his left hand, his rigid body almost standing at attention, he gazes at the flag fluttering from an imaginary mountain bearing the words 'World Unity'. Block has titled his piece 'Hill 1945' coined from the numerous anonymous hills on Okinawa and elsewhere that became known only by numbers.

The image is something of a departure from the artist's usual humorous images and causes the viewer to pause and reflect upon the sentiment displayed on the flag atop the mountain.

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