No way but this: In search of Paul Robeson

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‘Brilliantly told by Jeff Sparrow, Paul Robeson's story is compelling and important. No Way But This is a challenge to history and a reminder of what unites us.’

– Owen Jones, Guardian columnist and author of The Establishment

‘Sparrow shows how this admittedly splendid actor, this marvelous singer, this charismatic speaker, had somehow evolved into something more: he had for many people become the embodiment of the global longing for a better world, a juster dispensation … Sparrow has made perfect and haunting sense of him.’

– New York Review of Books

‘In a chronologically methodical and delightfully insightful approach that might best be described as “bio-tourism”, Australian author, journalist, and broadcaster Sparrow tells the story of preternaturally gifted Paul Robeson … [A]n excellent and perhaps timely reboot of Robeson's singularly incredible life, especially as its trajectory now intersects with contemporary racial issues.’

– Library Journal

‘Written with an exhilarating combination of insight and passion … A necessary book. A social movement that calls itself “Black Lives Matter” exists because those lives are being treated as if they don't. Sparrow knows that when he writes of the past, “If you believed in nothing, you’d fall for anything”, he is also writing about now.’

– Anna Funder, author of Stasiland

‘This is an inspiring biography of a really remarkable human being.’

– Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream

‘Jeff Sparrow is the latest biographer to tackle this riveting subject and he ably demonstrates how journalistic method can contribute to historical understanding.’


‘Urgent and compelling … A mix of essay, journalism, history and biography [that is] engaging, original and insightful … Fascinating, instructive and full of astute observations on race and politics, No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson will appeal to readers passionate about social justice and the history of 20th-century political movements.’

– Books+Publishing (starred review)

‘An amazing story I didn't even know I didn't know. Jeff pulls us through the grubby terrain of race, Jesus, prison, and fascism.’

– John Safran, author of Murder in Mississippi

‘With sensitive inquisition; fierce curiosity; razor-sharp observation; crisp, engaging prose; and a fondness and respect for his subject that fairly sings, Sparrow once again proves himself one of the finest nonfiction writers we have.’

– Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of The Hate Race

‘Part journalist, part historian, Jeff Sparrow writes with loving discernment about a remarkable man and the forces that shaped his unmistakable voice. [This is] a gripping story of courage and commitment, told by one of our finest chroniclers of the human capacity for tenderness amid the squalor. Sparrow takes us on a global journey, revealing that beyond an old man and a river, there lies a deep valley of hatred and hope, sadness and solidarity.’

– Claire Wright, Stella Prize-winning author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka

‘Book of the week … [A] conscientious and often painful biography.’ – Daily Mail

‘Sparrow’s book is a very effective and compelling way of introducing Robeson to readers not so interested in conventional biographies.’ – Tayo Aluko, Morning Star

‘Paul Robeson was truly a giant of a man, in physical stature, courage, intellect, and creative endeavour. With this intimate and engaging portrait, we are able to gain an invaluable insight into a major political and artistic talent of the twentieth century. Ours is a time requiring inspiration, affiliation, and solidarity. Paul Robeson surely provides the inspiration we desperately need.’

– Tony Birch, author of Blood and Ghost River

‘Jeff Sparrow's No Way But This is a major addition to what we know of, and how we may know, this 20th-century giant … It's impossible to do justice in a brief space to such a life of commitment ― or to suggest just what a compelling narrative Sparrow has made of it. He has aptly brought this giant to the attention of later generations.’

– Sydney Morning Herald

‘A great book about a fascinating man. Read it and be inspired!’

– Srdja Popovic, author of Blueprint for Revolution

‘An entertaining, informative and important book.’

– Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon

‘Both moving and illuminating … It is timely that in an era when there are more African-American men in jail or on parole in the United States than there were men in bondage at the height of slavery and when the Black Lives Matter movement is gathering momentum that there is a book to remind us about this astonishing individual and the political climate in which he used his popular voice to highlight systemic inequality.’

– Readings