Books: Non-Fiction

Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson

Book - Non-fiction. Written and illustrated by Sharon Rudahl. Edited by Paul Buhle and Lawrence Ware. 2020. 142 pages. The first-ever graphic biography of Paul Robeson charts Robeson’s career as a singer, actor, scholar, athlete, and activist who achieved global fame.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909, World War I: 1910 - 1919, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: African American, Art & Music, Sports, US Foreign Policy, World History/Global Studies

The first-ever graphic biography of Paul Robeson, Ballad of an American, charts Robeson’s career as a singer, actor, scholar, athlete, and activist who achieved global fame. Through his films, concerts, and records, he became a potent symbol representing the promise of a multicultural, multiracial American democracy at a time when, despite his stardom, he was denied personal access to his many audiences.

Robeson was a major figure in the rise of anti-colonialism in Africa and elsewhere, and a tireless campaigner for internationalism, peace, and human rights. Later in life, he embraced the civil rights and antiwar movements with the hope that new generations would attain his ideals of a peaceful and abundant world. Ballad of an American features beautifully drawn chapters by artist Sharon Rudahl, a compelling narrative about his life, and an afterword on the lasting impact of Robeson’s work in both the arts and politics. This graphic biography will enable all kinds of readers—especially newer generations who may be unfamiliar with him — to understand his life’s story and everlasting global significance.

Table of Contents

  • I. Son of a Slave, Star of Rutgers
  • II. First Steps on the Stage
  • III. He Finds His Voice
  • IV. A World to Win
  • V. Bloodied but Unbowed Paul Robeson: More Alive Than Ever
  • An Afterword by the Editors
  • Further Reading

Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson is published in conjunction with Rutgers University’s centennial commemoration of Robeson’s 1919 graduation from the University. [Description from the publisher]

ISBN: 9781978802070 | Published by Rutgers University Press

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