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The Undiscovered Paul Robeson , An Artist's Journey, 1898-1939 Hardcover – March 2, 2001

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The Undiscovered Paul Robeson , An Artist's Journey, 1898-1939 + Here I Stand + Paul Robeson Speaks: Writings, Speeches, and Interviews, a Centennial Celebration
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471242659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471242659
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paul Robeson, one of the world's most famous actors from the 1920s through the 1950s and a man who led an extraordinary life by any measure, is not widely known today. In this moving and intimate memoir, his son, a freelance journalist and translator, blames his father's current obscurity on the public response to his outspoken left-wing politics and insistence on racial pride, evident throughout his careers in college sports, on stage and as a spokesperson for equal rights. Most pointedly at issue, in Robeson Jr.'s eyes, is the far-reaching, vituperative media campaign waged during the McCarthy era that (wrongly) labeled Robeson a Communist and caused him to be blacklisted from 1949 until his death in 1976. Born in 1898 to a runaway slave who became a famed minister and preacher, in 1915 Robeson was the third African-American admitted to Rutgers University, where, despite overt racism, he became a noted scholar, athlete and orator. After graduating from Columbia Law School, he tried his hand at the theater and, in 1924, was heralded for his performance in O'Neill's The Emperor Jones. Robeson went on to become an international star, notably playing Othello in London and appearing in the stage and film versions of the musical Show Boat. During this time, he also entered the political arena with his support of antifascist and leftist groups, later used by the press and anti-Communist witch-hunters to tarnish Robeson's reputation. Robeson Jr. writes forcefully of his parents' successes his mother, Eslanda, led a life as public as her husband's as well as of their troubled marriage. This version of his father's life is an important, well-wrought addition to African-American, Cold War and theater scholarship.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Paul Robeson is certainly one of the more tragic figures in 20th-century U.S. history. He was a gifted athlete, musician, scholar, actor, and activist who remained enamoured of Stalin long after others grew disillusioned. Now his son, owner and archivist for the Paul Robeson and Eslanda Robeson Collection, mines the collection's decades' worth of personal papers and diaries to explore the artist's intellectual development in the first of a proposed two-volume biography. Extensively illustrated with personal photos, this is a unique account of a brilliant but troubled man forced to seek the accolades he deserved in foreign lands. Often more anecdotal than analytical, this volume remains a necessary acquisition for all libraries and a welcome adjunct to Martin Duberman's definitive Paul Robeson: A Biography (LJ 1/89). Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Janos on June 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What an outstanding book about a dazzling man that can only bring pride to every American, joy to anyone hearing him sing, and praise knowing his full life story.
The book finally shows that Paul Robeson is an icon far beyond his time. He could have lived just the good life based on his talents in academics, entertainment and sports. Robeson earning a comfortable life of opulence with his talents his first 40 years only to give it away to stand up to the injustices he saw in America and the world. He practice when you are given much in life you must give back even more and he did losing much for his show of valance.
If you ever heard the English words of the Soviet Anthem sung by Robeson, you understand the meaning of justice in life. It must be remembered that this was when Russia along with Ghandi in India were opposing Nazi Germany in Spain, Fascist Italy in Ethiopia and Colonialism in Africa and Asia.
Robeson was for equality, fairness and civility. They opposed Fascism, Colonialism and Racism just like many came to do in the West, but at a much later date. Robeson never accepted the atrocities of Stalin and indeed never met him. In fact, many of Robeson's friends in Russia were actually purged and murdered by Stalin.
Consequently, by becoming the most popular singer in Russia in 1930's and supporter of Russia against Hitler in the 1940's actually branded you an archenemy of America in the 1950's. A terrible sad situation but very true. In the end, this yeoman of ability and audacity was wrongly put on many blacklists that forced his legend into the entertainment and political dump heap of oblivion.
Later there is no doubt that the courageous deeds of Paul Robeson only spawn the acts of Dr. Martin Luther King.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who knew only that this great and gifted Renaissance man had fallen out of political favor of a paranoid United States, this is a great opportunity to see who he really was. Written by his son, this first volume study of Paul Robeson's life is replete with photographs, diary entries, and correspondence of the type only a family member might have. Paul Robeson Jr. spent a good part of his formative years away from his famous parents, and his view of their sometimes strained marriage, held together primarily by their preoccupation with Robeson's career, is remarkably detatched. This is an excellent snapshot of an era when the life of a black artist was complicated by American racism, and the tremendous intellect of a thoughtful genius who had his own views of the world could be stifled by an America unwilling to open its mind.
A must read for anyone wishing to understand this aspect of African America in the 20th century. I look forward eagerly to the second volume.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend "The Undiscovered Paul Robeson" because it provides insightful information for both those readers who know a lot about Paul Robeson and those who do not. One of the most significant figures of the 20th century, this book paints a definitive picture of the key influences of his formative years. Born in 1898, he was raised by his minister father (who was an escaped slave)in the African-American church culture. The book shows how he became a football star,and an internationally famous concert singer and actor who dedicated his art to the struggles of his people for full equality. The book is particularly interesting because it uses Paul Robeson's own words as culled from his diaries, correspondence, and personal conversations with his son and other intimates, and from his wife's diaries. Paul Robeson legacy is important for us to know about. He helped to change the racial stereotype prevalent in the first half of the 20th century by presenting a dignified male image on stage and off; he was the first artist to legitimize spirituals as significant concert material; and he always reflected the dual image of an African-American rooted in his own culture who simultaneously believed in the oneness of the human spirit worldwide. More Americans need to know more about Paul Robeson!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Paul Robeson deserves to be better known today - hopefully this book will achieve that. His son, Paul Robeson, Jr., uses family portraits, diaries, taped interviews and other archival documents to produce a well-rounded portrait of his father's accomplishments as an athlete, an actor, a scholar, and an activist.
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