cover of book

Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson
by Sharon Rudahl
edited by Paul Buhle and Lawrence Ware
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-9788-0207-0 | eISBN: 978-1-9788-0209-4 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-0208-7
Library of Congress Classification ML420.R73B3 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 781.542092


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.

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