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Eslanda Hardcover – 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124347
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Eslanda Eslanda 'Essie' Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colourful life, embroiled in much of the twentieth century's social turmoil and travelled around the globe to fight for downtrodden and oppressed people. Chronicling Essie's life, the book explores her influence on her husband's early career and how she later achieved her own political voice. Full description

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By J. D. Dickens on 17 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lifelong fan of Paul Robeson, and a student of his life, I was, of course, delighted to hear of the publication of this book. Any book about the Robesons is bound to be compared with Martin Duberman's magnificent biography of Paul Robeson, and this book lacks the pace and power of the earlier work. There are omissions, for example, Paul Jnr is said to have burned letters Essie left at their London flat after her death, their was no mention of this, there could have been more anecdotes from friends and family: neither Essie or Paul claimed to be saints.
I will say that this is a worthy biography, that I enjoyed reading it, and that the story of Essie also tells the story of Paul, surely her extraordinary life could be the subject of a movie?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderfully generous and sensitive work by biographer-historian Barbara Ransby - about an extraordinary person, for any times. Special subject, special writer - special women.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A small but formidable woman 18 Jan. 2013
By wogan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Eslanda Robeson is known to most as Paul Robeson's wife. This book will go far in showing what a force she was in not only his life, but in working for the civil rights for those who did not have her wealth or public persona.
Barbara Ransby does an excellent job of opening "Essie's" life in this book. She explains her open marriage with Paul, the troubles and joys they shared. The good, the unpleasant and the contradictions of her life all come to light. You do not have to agree with all the choices; both personal and political that Eslanda made, but you have to admire her determination.
She was a woman who was an activist for civil rights in many countries. She stepped out onto the world stage to try to change the things she thought were wrong and support the causes she thought were right, even when she was in extremely poor health.

We read of her independence, even leaving her 6 month old son to travel. We learn of her groundbreaking activities in the US and on the African continent, but are also presented with the quandary that she and Paul never said anything concerning Stalin's purge trials while they supported the communist system. The writing is an even approach to this lady's history; even Essie crediting that she knew much of her power came from her husband's fame and money. It gave her a platform - all aspects of her life are well covered.

This book was written with the cooperation of the Robeson family and many of Essie's notes, diaries and journals are used in documenting it. There are almost 100 pages of the 373 page book that contain a timeline, notes and an index. The introduction and epilogue sum up what the focus of the book is and its goal in describing Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson's life.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
For those with some Robeson knowledge, this will be of interest... 17 Aug. 2013
By William E. Adams - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I "discovered" Paul Robeson's singing when I was 14, in 1959, via a Vanguard Records folk sampler LP borrowed from the library. The song was "Get on Board, Little Children" and only lasted 1:18. That brief introduction changed my music exploration direction and cost me a great deal of money over the next 50 years, as I bought Robeson records, tapes, and biographies, and rented Robeson films on VHS from the 1920's and '30's. I also watched on tape James Earl Jones play Big Paul in a two-man show. One cannot get that much exposure to Paul the vocalist, actor and international leftist anti-racist activist without learning quite a bit of the life of his wife. Now we have a full biography of Eslanda in which Paul, while not a minor character, is certainly in a supporting role. Mrs. Robeson was a scientist, writer, lecturer, world traveler, manager of her husband's early career, and political leftist activist with a special interest in fighting racism and supporting the overthrow of colonial powers in Africa. There are lots of books and films about the struggle for black civil rights in America (I just came from a screening of the new film "The Butler" and it is an excellent history lesson on that topic.) This book ends just before the U.S. struggle began to have lasting victories, around 1965, because Eslanda died that year, and her husband was in forced retirement due to poor mental health and physical exhaustion. The Robesons battled for the cause of black rights world-wide starting in the '20's, escalating in the '30's, and becoming even more radical in the '40's and '50's. I confess to skimming some of the chapters regarding Eslanda's pro-Communist activities and visits to Africa. Some of her causes are outdated now, and all of her friends have passed on. Both Robesons made serious public relations mistakes by staying loyal to the Soviet Union's government long after World War II and turning a blind eye to the atrocities that group perpetrated on their own countrymen. Whatever their reasons, history has declared them misguided in that defense of the Russia of that era. However, the political stories in Eslanda demonstrate that she surely had courage in her convictions, and fair criticisms of the U.S.A. of that time. The personal story of their strained marriage, partly due to Paul's romantic affairs, is sad but fascinating. This book is a good companion to Martin Duberman's biography of Paul from several years ago. Robeson fans might find it well worth their time. My one regret about this volume is that the author did not, after covering Eslanda's death, print a word about Paul's situation the rest of his life, lived in publicly quiet retirement in Philadelphia with his sister. He was mysteriously damaged mentally and emotionally, and I would have been interested in her thoughts as to whether Big Paul suffered from psychosis, bi-polarity, senility, early Alzheimer's or something else.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Harlem Renaissance and Progressive Politics. 21 Jan. 2013
By David J. Kalke - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An incredible summary of a fantastic life, taking the reader in and out of the Renaissance in Harlem, to the United Nations, to the Congo, to Madrid and Moscow revealing a period of progressive history almost forgotten - certainly ignored - in the United States. A fascinating life mingles the details of personal life with the challenges of progressive political positions inside a conservative and repressive USA during the 1950's. Well written, fascinating and delightful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing 10 July 2013
By Juanita C. Storey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While historical material covered was interesting, writing style was plodding.. This fact in my opinion detracted fromthebook and made reading it a matterof " forcing" oneself.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the best reads! 14 Mar. 2013
By Donalda Lovelace - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was riveted to the pages. Was astounded by the depth of her intellectual curiosity and her independence. Her life independent of Paul Robeson was amazing!
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