No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow

Review published on September 6, 2018.

This is the remarkable story of a man at the dawn of the age of celebrity who is now sadly largely forgotten. Paul Robeson is now nearly solely remembered for his beautiful voice (who has not heard ‘Ol’ man river’) and his movie appearances, but he was also a man with a very strong belief in social justice and equality for all. No Way But This delves in to Robeson’s beliefs and the political convictions that would ultimately destroy his career.

Paul was the son of a former slave and, despite dreadful early hardships, he rose to become a world famous star and a voice for the poor, the downtrodden and ordinary working people everywhere. His fame allowed him to travel extensively outside of the USA and he was even able to visit the Soviet Union.

This book intelligently probes Robeson’s life and politics and his longing for a better life for ordinary people in every country. These strong beliefs would sadly eventually destroy him in the cruel era of McCarthyism. This is a thoughtful, superbly researched and thought-provoking account of a man who stood up for what he believed in and how change must come.

This book is not just a biography, it is also part travelogue and part history of the 20th century. Jeff Sparrow has written a memorable story about a man who deserves to be remembered way, way more than he is.

Sara Boorman 5/4

No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow
Scribe UK 9781911344292 pbk Jul 2018

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