Books: Non-Fiction

Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Book — Non-fiction. By Barbara Ransby. 2013. 373 pages. This biography of cosmopolitan anthropologist Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson explores her influence on her husband's early career, their open marriage, and her life as a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women's rights, and an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, US Foreign Policy, Women's History, World History/Global Studies

Eslanda “Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson’s career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment and an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker.

Yet historians, for the most part, have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie’s friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years and all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie’s indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history. [Description from the publisher.]

ISBN: 9780300205855 | Published by Yale University Press.

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