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The Butter Battle Book

The Butter Battle Book


by Dr. Seuss

The Butter Battle Book Meaning

What is this book really about?

A Cold War Re-Presented

Weapons of mass destruction? Over the issue of how the Yooks and Zooks butter their bread?
Ridiculous, you think. Right?

But you've probably have caught it by now: The Butter Battle Book isn't really about buttering bread. Or if it is, we're reading way too much into it.

More likely, Dr. Seuss's tale is an allegory for the nuclear arms race during World War II and the Cold War. Critics usually read the Yooks as the United States and the Zooks as the Soviet Union, pointing to the blue digs of the Yooks and the red threads of the Zooks as evidence. Shmoop approves in terms of color logic.

But allegories are flexible. When Dr. Seuss published the book in 1984, the Berlin Wall was still standing, so the allegory was especially current and topical. But you know what? The themes in The Butter Battle Book are as relevant as ever.

Okay, we're getting ahead of ourselves. If this book is about history, let's start there.

Dr. Seuss definitely had war on the brain. After all, his young adult life spanned the two World Wars, providing him lots of material for his political cartoons and his writing to boot. But Dr. Seuss wasn't some stuffy academic—he was interested in telling stories. And so, our friend Ted gives us the good story behind the Cold War arms race by making it accessible. Even to the littl'uns.

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