Southern Cross: A Novel of the South Seas is a stunning wordless novel told in 118 wood engravings about the atomic bomb testing performed by the United States in the South Pacific following World War II. This new hardcover edition is a facsimile of the original edition, published in 1951. Laurence Hyde was infuriated with the United States' continued testing in the Bikini Atoll, following the mass destruction and unthinkable horrors resulting from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Hyde's graphic novel involves a Polynesian island and the islanders' idyllic and secure life that is forever lost after American sailors arrive and evacuate the islanders from their homes. During the evacuation, a fisherman kills a sailor who attempts to rape his wife. The couple flees with their child into the jungle to avoid capture. After the other islanders have evacuated, the Americans detonate an atom bomb on the ocean floor. The island receives the brunt of the bomb's destructive force, which annihilates all flora and fauna. The fisherman and his family are subjected to horrific suffering and pain before dying from the resulting blast and radiation.
Southern Cross includes the original introduction by Rockwell Kent and two essays by Hyde in which he provides the idea for his book, a detailed description of the process of wood engraving, and a short history of the woodcut novel. A new introduction is provided by the woodcut novel historian David A. Beronä.