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Eslanda – The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs Paul Robeson


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Barbara Ransby is professor in the departments of African American Studies, Gender and Women Studies, and History, and director of the Gender and Women's Studies Program, University of Illinois, Chicago.


"In this incredibly powerful, vital work, Ransby has rescued Eslanda Robeson from the shadows of her famous husband and establishes her as one of the most important activists, scholars, critics and theorists to connect anticolonialism with the black freedom movement in the U.S."-Robin Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original -- Robin Kelley "This is an enormously rich book by a masterful biographer, full of novel insights and surprises."-Penny Von Eschen, University of Michigan -- Penny Von Eschen "Barbara Ransby has produced an insightful, fascinating, and significant biography. Eslanda Robeson has too long stood in the shadow of her remarkable husband, but as Ransby shows she was an important writer and political activist in her own right, whose life illuminates the international dimensions of the 20th-century black freedom movement."-Eric Foner, Columbia University -- Eric Foner "From a master biographer and historian of African American women, this mesmerizing story of an extraordinary woman's life and struggles offers a global view of black radical history. After this book no one will be able to think of Eslanda merely as Mrs. Paul Robeson."-Linda Gordon, author of Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits -- Linda Gordon "Scholar and activist Ransby deftly details the accomplishments, struggles and impact of Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson... A well-researched, informative, readable biography."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "This long overdue biography of a bold scholar-activist emerging from the shadow of her famous husband is a gift, and such are Ransby's narrative skills that I wept when, in her final pages, the vibrant Essie died, two days shy of 70. Ransby has a history of rescuing historically overlooked black female leaders; a prior biography was of the venerable civil rights activist Ella Baker. This new work is a major contribution to her glorious reclamation project."-Joan Steinau Lester, Ms. Magazine -- Joan Steinau Lester Ms. Magazine "What Barbara Ransby achieved in her biography of Ella Baker is repeated with verve and astonishing insight in Eslanda: The Labor and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson." -Herb Boyd, New York Amsterdam News -- Herb Boyd New York Amsterdam News "Fascinating... A poignant portrait of a peripatetic, human rights activist willing to challenge oppression of any form wherever she could find it."-Kam Williams, Insight -- Kam Williams Insight "Compelling."-Eleanor J. Bader, In These Times -- Eleanor J. Bader In These Times "Eslanda Goode Robeson deserves this fine biography that frees her from her role as Mrs. Paul Robeson and uncovers a life that defies summary, so varied, wide-ranging, and intense it was ... Ransby skillfully organizes the details into a fascinating, well-researched account ... A breathtaking biography. Highly recommended, all libraries."-Choice Choice Won Honorable Mention for the 2013 Southern California Book Festival, in the Biography/Autobiography category, sponored by JM Northern Media LLC. -- Southern California Book Festival JM Northern Media LLC Won an Honorable Mention for the 2013 New England Book Festival given by the JM Northern Media Family of Festivals, in the Biography/Autobiography Category. -- New England Book Festival JM Northern Media Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the North America Category. -- Outstanding Academic Title Choice Won a Honorable Mention for the 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography Category. -- Los Angeles Book Festival JM Northern Media LLC "Through the vast intellect and devoted political commitments of Barbara Ransby, Essie's ferocious clarity about global solidarity in thought and action, her defiance of the forces of racism and reaction, and her remarkable resilience and intellectual curiosity which led her to teach and write, to engage and then to wholeheartedly embrace the struggles of her time-tell us much about ourselves and the challenges to buck up."-Bernadine Dohrn, Monthly Review -- Bernadine Dohrn Monthly Review

Eslanda "Essie" Cardozo Goode Robeson was the wife of the legendary singer and actor Paul Robeson. Yet, as Ransby, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois- Chicago, shows in this passionate biography, Eslanda ("Essie" to her friends) enacted many roles. Though Essie was her husband's biggest promoter, indispensable as his manager in his early career, she also became well-known as an anthropologist, author, U.N. correspondent, powerful advocate for women's rights, and an impassioned anticolonial activist. Born in 1895, when opportunities for blacks were exceedingly limited, Essie finished college, headed the pathology lab at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, pursued a Ph.D. in anthropology, and traveled, often on her own, through South Africa, Uganda, the Congo, China, and Central America. Determined to rescue Essie from the shadow of her famous husband, Ransby acts as Essie's staunch advocate, setting her subject's remarkable life story against the backdrop of the major movements of the 20th century: the Harlem Renaissance, WWII, the cold war, African decolonization, and the beginnings of the Black Freedom movement. Although her husband's celebrity and her light skin allowed Essie access into regions of white society, Ransby highlights how Essie truly became a citizen of the world. Agent: Sandy Dijkstra. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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