Synopses & Reviews
Eslanda "Essie" Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin's Russia, and China two months after Mao's revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishmentand#8212;an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women's rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century.
Chronicling Essie's eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband's early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie's friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy's infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 yearsand#8212;all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie's indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history.
The first biography of the bold, principled, and fiercely independent woman who defied convention to make her own mark on the world
This compelling biography tells Essie Robeson's own story for the first timeand#8212;from her unconventional marriage, to her influence on her husband's early career, to her tireless efforts against racism and injustice around the globe.
Although Cora Du Bois began her life in the early twentieth century as a lonely and awkward girl, her intellect and curiosity propelled her into a remarkable life as an anthropologist and diplomat in the vanguard of social and academic change.
Du Bois studied with Franz Boas, a founder of American anthropology, and with some of his most eminent students: Ruth Benedict, Alfred Kroeber, and Robert Lowie. During World War II, she served as a high-ranking officer for the Office of Strategic Services as the only woman to head one of the OSS branches of intelligence, Research and Analysis in Southeast Asia. After the war she joined the State Department as chief of the Southeast Asia Branch of the Division of Research for the Far East. She was also the first female full professor, with tenure, appointed at Harvard University and became president of the American Anthropological Association.
Du Bois worked to keep her public and private lives separate, especially while facing the FBIand#8217;s harassment as an opponent of U.S. engagements in Vietnam and as a and#8220;liberaland#8221; lesbian during the McCarthy era. Susan C. Seymourand#8217;s biographyand#160;weaves together Du Boisand#8217;s personal and professional lives to illustrate this exceptional and#8220;first womanand#8221; and the complexities of the twentieth century that she both experienced and influenced.
About the Author
Susan C. Seymour is the Jean M. Pitzer Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She is the author of several books, including Women, Family, and Child Care in India: A World in Transition.