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 | Rutgers University Press

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