The Golem’s Mighty Swing

Drawn & Quarterly

James Sturm

May 21, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Find It At: Amazon

Originally published in 2001, James Sturm’s The Golem’s Mighty Swing is widely—and justly—acclaimed as a stellar depiction of a chapter of the American experience. Sturm’s tale of the Stars of David, a Depression Era traveling baseball team, draws back the curtain on America’s favorite pastime, providing an unflinching reminder of the unapologetic racism many touring teams encountered. Now newly republished by Drawn and Quarterly, the pensive graphic novel is perhaps an even more poignant reminder of the hardships faced by those considered minorities in this American melting pot.


Employing narrator Noah Strauss—the “Zion Lion” and Stars of David team captain—Sturm guides us through small town America desperate for a break from the mundane. Seemingly innocent and welcoming, with equal parts sport and shtick, the roving baseball teams embrace marketing gimmickry to fill seats (the Hoboes, the Hayseeds—with all players decked out as country bumpkins—or the Stars of David, with their bulkiest player dressed as the legendary Golem). However, what ought to be a reprieve of rural burdens and the purity of sport is overshadowed by the vitriol that confronts the visiting Stars of David in so many of the towns to which they tour. In Sturm’s graphic novel, the Stars encounter a starkly prejudiced, jingoistic Putnam County All-Americans that view defeating them not just a matter of local pride, but of national duty. Jews are an outside force, a threat to America. Beating them might even best be done literally.

From James Sturm, founder of The Center for Cartoon Studies, The Golem’s Mighty Swing is a beautifully written and illustrated account of Americana. Like the nation in which it’s set, it is neither black nor white, but gray, replete with the clash of beliefs that define the United States. From the bond shared by spectators of a favorite sport, to the disunity of xenophobia, to the quest for the “American Dream” dangled in front of every man, woman, and child who sets foot in these 50 States, The Golem’s Mighty Swing is as quintessential an American graphic novel as ever there has been. (

Author rating: 7/10

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