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Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman Paperback – September 30, 2007

3.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Deploying the smack-'em-in-the-face descriptive style of Will Eisner for a graphic biography may not seem like the best idea. But when it comes to the life of famed anarchist Emma Goldman, Rudahl's punchy, exclamation point-heavy method feels just right to cover the crusader's life. Born in Russia in 1869 at a time when women, particularly Jewish women, were to be downtrodden and not heard, Goldman lost no time upsetting the status quo with her big mouth and restless curiosity. After following her sisters to America, the newly married Goldman was just starting to learn about leftist politics when she became radicalized by the 1886 Haymarket bombing in Chicago, leading to more than a half-century's worth of nearly nonstop protesting, fiery speechmaking and organizing across North America and Europe, and even a few passionate affairs. Rudahl's earnest admiration for Goldman and her refreshingly smart approach to the cause is clear in her excited artwork, all cramped frames and twirly action. The volume is well-suited for libraries because of its knowledgeable but shorthand approach to history, exemplified in a scene where Teddy Roosevelt holds a copy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and declares, I don't want fingers in my sausage!!! Hurry up and pass some food and drug laws! (Sept.)
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About the Author

Sharon Rudahl's work has appeared in underground newspapers and magazines, Marvel Comics, and Wobblies!: A Graphic History; her art has been widely exhibited. She lives in Hollywood. Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer at Brown University. He has written, edited, or co-edited thirty-two books, including the Encyclopedia of the American Left, Wobblies!, and the Jews and American Popular Culture trilogy. Alice Wexler is the author of a two-volume biography of Emma Goldman. She is a research scholar at UCLA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; First Edition edition (September 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580641
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,288,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Emma Goldman is one of the big name names of American anarchists, as well as one of the earlier to contribute to free speech, birth control, and the labor movements. She was an amazing public speaker, something that is lost in this day of television and radio, and her writing still ranks amongst the classics of Anarchist thought for a free and just society. From her involvement in the shooting of Frick (though Alexander Berkman was a lousy shot) to free speech fights to labor struggles in Massachusetts to getting deported by Edgar Hoover, all the way to being amongst the first radicals to denounce the government of the Bolsheviks (which ostracized her amongst the left), and finally working to raise funds for the Spanish Revolutionary cause. She was jailed for fighting against the draft, advocating for birth control, and for "inciting a riot." In a lot of ways, the stuff she said then was visionary for the time period. She remains one of the most amazing people in history, and someone who gave her all so others could be free and live in a just world.

"Dangerous Woman: A Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman" can be best described as a graphic novel version of "Living My Life", and it's a real treat. The artist, Sharon Rudahl, does a great job capturing Goldman's turbulent and unique life, growing from a fiery Jewish peasant girl fleeing Russia to an active Anarchist speaker and organizer hated by the government, to the patron-saint of the American Anarchist movement, though small by the time of her death. She spares no detail, especially the parts about Emma's sex life and her many partners over the years.
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Sharon Rudahl's "A Dangerous Woman" covers the life of a well-known anarchist around the turn of the century. Sharon's art is very appropriate for a fiery speechmaker; the plot as presented by Sharon never drags, and you get a book and a movie at the same time!

I had heard about Emma Goldman, but my political youth was spent in the socialist movement, not the anarchist movement, so I never researched Ms. Goldman's life or work. One piece I found interesting was Ms. Goldman's opposition to the amendment granting women the right to vote, and why she opposed it. Since my grandmother was a prominent suffragette, I approached this part of the book with some skepticism, but it was presented with such passion that I found myself agreeing in principle with some parts of Ms. Goldman's philosopy on this particular topic. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and it's difficult to go back in time to try to understand things with the perspective in effect at that time, but Ms. Rudahl does a fantastic job with her art of helping to build that paradigm.

I found it difficult to put the book down, it was so entertaining, and in a way that enlightens. Emma Goldman didn't live her life as an audition for a reality show, so you probably won't get that kind of stilted melodrama from it. What you WILL get is a fascinating historical presentation with Ms. Rudahl's art, and a dialog that both complements the art and creates it's own story.

A very fine book, and I heartily recommend buying it.
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Format: Paperback
Rudahl's descriptive expository approach to Emma's story did not work for me; it seems her aim for this graphic biography was creation for the benefit of instruction--to teach the youth of today, which is perfectly fine. But to me the approach set a forced tone. I feel this could have been so much better had Rudahl taken another approach (e.g. telling the story from Emma directly or from the memory of Alexandar Berkman or niece Stella or from police files).

The art--I like how Rudahl uses a variety of different frames and image montages, and the composition of her work is very good--movement, balance, and perspective. However, I am not keen about her style, especially her inability to convey expression in characters' faces. Over and over the same wooden image of Emma Goldman. Characterizations of people, graphically-speaking are flat; the images of people often reminded me of manikins.

If you want to learn about Emma Goldman, I suggest reading her story in her own words, Living My Life, volumes 1&2
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Format: Paperback
There is a tremendous amount of thugishness in hard times, people locked up in prison or deported, even in large countries like the United States and Russia. Emma Goldman could be a speaker who actually incited riots because the form of law and order imposed upon the poor did not give anarchists the same freedom of speech that millionaires and billionaires have today if they want to be anonymous about what they really think, and donuts will get you $14 trillion after the money has already been spent. At the age of 70, Emma Goldman was trying to save Arthur Bortolotti from deportation under the War Measures Act in Canada because he possessed an Anti-Fascist Leaflet!! She died in 1940 after Bortolotti was released from prison sick with flu. She is remembered for more than half a century of trouble-making.
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