Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson

Paul Buhle (Author) Sharon Rudahl (Illustrator)


The first-ever graphic biography of Paul Robeson, Ballad of an American, charts Robeson's career as a singer, actor, scholar, athlete, and activist who achieved global fame. Through his films, concerts, and records, he became a potent symbol representing the promise of a multicultural, multiracial American democracy at a time when, despite his stardom, he was denied personal access to his many audiences.

Robeson was a major figure in the rise of anti-colonialism in Africa and elsewhere, and a tireless campaigner for internationalism, peace, and human rights. Later in life, he embraced the civil rights and antiwar movements with the hope that new generations would attain his ideals of a peaceful and abundant world. Ballad of an American features beautifully drawn chapters by artist Sharon Rudahl, a compelling narrative about his life, and an afterword on the lasting impact of Robeson's work in both the arts and politics. This graphic biography will enable all kinds of readers--especially newer generations who may be unfamiliar with him--to understand his life's story and everlasting global significance.

Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson is published in conjunction with Rutgers University's centennial commemoration of Robeson's 1919 graduation from the university.

View the blad for Ballad of an American.

Product Details

$19.95  $18.35
Rutgers University Press
Publish Date
October 16, 2020
7.0 X 0.5 X 8.5 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

PAUL BUHLE, retired Senior Lecturer at Brown University, is the authorized biographer of Pan African giant, C.L.R. James and has written or edited many books on the Left in the US and the Caribbean. He has, in recent years, devoted himself to nonfiction graphic novels, including those on Emma Goldman, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eugene V. Debs.

LAWRENCE WARE is a professor of philosophy and co-director of Oklahoma State University's Center for Africana Studies. He writes widely on race and culture for The Root, Slate, and The New York Times. He has been a commentator on race and politics for Huffington Post Live, National Public Radio, and Public Radio International.

SHARON RUDAHL marched with Martin Luther King as a teenager and began her career as a cartoonist with anti-Vietnam War underground newspapers. She was one of the founders of the 1970s-era feminist Wimmen's Comix. Rudahl has participated in scores of publications and exhibitions in dozens of countries over the last fifty years. She is best known for her graphic biography, Emma Goldman: A Dangerous Woman.


"With powerful drawings, meticulous attention to historical detail, and deep appreciation for his wife, Eslanda Goode Robeson, Rudahl, Buhle, and Ware provide us with a deeply moving tribute to the enormous talent, courage and genius of Paul Robeson." --Bettina Aptheker "Distinguished Professor Emerita, Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz"