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The long-awaited, untold, inside story of the rise of the legendary actor, singer, scholar, and activist. The first volume of this major biography breaks new ground. The greatest scholar-athlete-performing artist in U.S. history, Paul Robeson was one of the most compelling figures of the twentieth century. Now his son, Paul Robeson Jr., traces the dramatic arc of his rise to fame, painting a definitive picture of Paul Robeson's formative years. His father was an escaped slave; his mother, a descendent of freedmen; and his wife, the brilliant and ambitious Eslanda Cardozo Goode. With a law degree from Columbia University; a professional football career; title roles in Eugene O'Neill's plays and in Shakespeare's Othello; and a concert career in America and Europe, Robeson dominated his era. This unprecedented biography reveals the depth of Robeson's cultural scholarship, explores the contradictions he bridged in his personal and political life, and describes his emergence as a symbol of the anticolonial and antifascist struggles. Filled with previously unpublished photographs and source materials from the private diaries and letters of Paul and Eslanda Robeson, this is the epic story of a forerunner who now stands as one of America's greatest heroes.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780471242659
ISBN-10: 0471242659
Format: Hardback
(238mm x 162mm x 32mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publish Date: 27-Mar-2001
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » An intimate biography of Paul Robeson, written by his son..Robeson Jr. ("Paul Robeson Jr. Speaks to America", 1993) traces his father's life from birth through the start of WWII, when the performer and activist all but fell mute. The author's ranging voice can be defensive, proud, protective, and bell-clear, and while he may not have the thunderous delivery of his father, his words come across as heartfelt. The focus of his study is on the development of his father's cultural and political views, while considerable attention is paid to the nature of Robeson's relationship with his wife. Clearly, much of Robeson's sense of dignity, self-worth, and justice came as a result of growing up the son of a clergyman (his father was pastor of Harlem's Zion Church) - and from his own harsh experiences as the only black student at Rutgers. His drive to excel as a performer is set within the larger context of his conviction that the African-American cultural and spiritual experience was central to their liberation as a people. But this can hardly be considered late-breaking news - nor, as the author suggests, is the "debunking" of Robeson as a Communist likely to surprise many. While it is undeniable that Robeson admired the Soviet Union for its racial tolerance, as well as its anticolonial and antifascist stances, it now appears that he was more of a dupe than a true believer. Indeed, his silence on the Stalinist purges (to say nothing of the Scottsboro trials) would have made for some interesting speculation on Robeson Jr.'s part - and it is understandable, perhaps, but unfortunate all the same that such speculations never found their way into the author's account. Robeson Jr. does, however, break some new ground in his discussion of his father's artistic development, particularly regarding his use of the traditional folk style in spirituals..Informed by a filial piety throughout, but hardly an unbiased take. (photographs, not seen). (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Paul Robeson

PAUL ROBESON, Jr., is a freelance journalist, translator, and highly regarded lecturer on American and Russian history. He served as a personal aide to his father for over twenty years and has been a civil rights activist since the 1940s. He is the owner and archivist of the Paul Robeson and Eslanda Robeson Collection, which consists of over 50,000 items, including thousands of photographs and hundreds of audio recordings.

Books By Author Paul Robeson

Undiscovered Paul Robeson by Paul Robeson

The Undiscovered Paul Robeson

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Black Way of Seeing by Paul Robeson

A Black Way of Seeing

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Here I Stand by Paul Robeson

Here I Stand

Paperback, January 1993