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The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger Paperback – June 8, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Pete's political beliefs, and his courage in standing up to McCarthyism, are linked in Wilkinson's biography to his underlying philosophy, which views all people as members of a single spiritual community. Pete Seeger's goal has been to unite people of many backgrounds, classes, ethnicities, racial backgrounds and religions through the common vehicle of music, which he views as the expression of a common, human spirit. It is this common humanity, not a political ideology, that Seeger seeks to advance through his efforts as a writer and singer.Read more ›
"People ask, is there one word that you have more faith in than any other word,"he told me, "and I say it's participation. I feel that this takes on so many meanings. The composer John Philip Sousa said,'What will happen to the American voice now that the phonograph has been invented? Women used to sing lullabies to their children.' It's been my life work, to get participation, whether it's a union song, or a peace song, civil rights, or a women's movement, or gay liberation. When you sing, you feel a kind of strength; you think, I'm not alone, there's a whole bunch of us who feel this way. I'm just one person, but it's almost my religion now to persuade people that even if it's only you and three others, do something. You and one other, do something. If it's only you, and you do a good job as a songwriter, people will sing it."
And the pictures; they show a man working hard for that participation from himself and from others with grace and joy and sticking by what he believes is right no matter what. Pete Seeger is a man to be thanked and copied, we need more like him.
His one shot at serious commercial success was dashed by the blacklisters when, in the early 1950s, his group, the Weavers, had been signed by a television network for their own show. A right-wing group published a pamphlet listing notable men and women whom they claimed were Communists, including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, and Seeger. Incapable of bitterness, Seeger's only comment was, "I expected it, so I didn't really feel resentful. We assumed that sooner or later they'd get us."
Seeger lives with his wife of many decades--who seems to share his unpretentious taste--in a woodsy home where he makes his own maple syrup and entertains his visiting children and grandchildren. His lifestyle is simple and basic, as befits a person with his values, described by Wilkinson thus: "...a reverence for nature, a regard for human life, something like scorn for the nurturing of materialistic values, and a belief in the worth of right moral behavior."
Wilkinson writes elegantly, which makes this story even more of a treat to read.Read more ›
Wilkinson cites "Seeger's biographer, David King Dunaway" in two or three places. I enjoyed Wilkinson's story so much that I am now reading the Dunaway biography, How Can I Keep from Singing: The Ballad of Pete Seeger, and I can compare them.
At 428 pp, Dunaway's is the definitive biography, its first edition having been published in the 1980s. With rich collaboration between the author and his subject, the second edition, which appeared in 2008, is a masterpiece in the genre. I recommend both books -- Seeger's story is a terrific one at any length.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book. You can read most of it free online. Look for Alec Wilkinson's New Yorker profile of Pete Seeger at this link:... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jean Reynolds
In relatively few pages Mr. Wilkinson tells a tale of personal vision and courage that inspires the reader. Carry it on!Published 20 months ago by Sweet Spring Farmer
I really enjoyed reading this book. It IS a short read, but that works for me. I usually read a few pages before bed. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Bucky
".... He had wanted a biography that could be read in one sitting, and I tried to do that. The book had been a publisher’s idea, and when I called Seeger to ask if he would... Read morePublished on February 21, 2014 by TJ
My husband is a big Pete Seeger fan. I purchased this book for him as a Christmas gift but was a little concerned that it might be redundant to all the other reading/research he... Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by Maria P Drellow
The mystery is that Pete Seeger survives and endures. In his lifetime which spans much of the turmoil of the Twentieth Century, he has been beset by some of the most vicious and... Read morePublished on August 24, 2010 by carl brookins