For the past year, beginning at The Retroist – I have had the good fortune to be able to read and review a wonderful series of books from the talented Nathan Hale – an author, illustrator, and most assuredly a historian. I am pleased to share that just last week ABRAMS books published the ninth entry in the graphic novel series of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales – with Major Impossible. As usual in the Hazardous Tales books, the reader is treated to an event or person from history and through Hale’s diligent research – is not only entertained but educated. While the series is definitely intended for the young adult reading audience – as I’ve always stated, if you are a fan of history in general you owe it to yourself to check out the book series. The subject for Major Impossible is the telling of the life of John Wesley Powell – a one-armed explorer who decided in 1869 to explore the missing areas on the map by boat through the Grand Canyon. It would be an adventure to say the very least and when at 1 p.m. on May 24th of 1869 – the Colorado River Exploring Expedition set out – they did so with ten brave souls. After 99 days had passed the expedition would reach the end of their journey at Callville, Nevada… with six of those explorers.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales books – there are generally three guides or narrators for the readers – Nathan Hale who WAS an American soldier and spy executed in 1776, the Provost as well as the Hangman. Hale as the series explains it is telling stories of interest throughout history to stall his execution – the Provost and the Hangman in particular are included for comedic support. Although with Major Impossible we have another participant in the graphic novel, one as I understand it was introduced in Big bad Ironclad – the real life Bill Richmond. The first African American International Prize Fighter who just so happened to set up London’s earliest boxing academy in his later years – and I do very much hope that Nathan Hale will one day produce a book based on Richmond’s exploits. These narrators provide the opportunity for Hale to inject some humor into the books – whether that be to help relive the tension of showing the battlefield amputation process during the Civil War – which is where Powell lost his arm. Or pointing out how times have definitely changed for the better… you thankfully won’t see any tossing of sheep off cliffs these days.
Major Impossible as with all of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales books proves time and time again that in regards to history, what might sound like a tall tale was the genuine truth. Through sheer force of will… and maybe a good amount of coffee… John Wesley Powell set out by boat to map the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The greatest gift that Hale’s books give is not just knowledge but an entertaining education – there has not been a book yet where I didn’t find myself going down a rabbit hole trying to find out more about what I’ve read in a Hazardous Tales offering.
Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it – you can listen to Nathan Hale himself explain what Major Impossible is all about. In my honest opinion this latest book would make a pretty nice Holiday gift for that young adult or history buff you might be trying to shop for!