Long an icon of American musical and political life, Pete Seeger has written eloquently in books and for magazines, activist movements, and union newsletters. Although he has never written an autobiography, his life story is nowhere more personally chronicled than in the private writings, documents, and letters stored for decades in his family barn.
In Pete Seeger in His Own Words, we hear directly from Seeger through the widest array of sources—letters, notes to himself, published articles, rough drafts, stories, and poetry—creating the most intimate picture yet available of Seeger as a musician, an activist, and a family man—in his own words and from his own perspective. From letters to his mother written when he was a 13-year-old desiring his first banjo to speculations on the future, this book covers the passions, personalities, and experiences of a lifetime of struggle—the pre-WWII labor movement, the Communist Party, Woody Guthrie, the blacklist, the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King, the struggle against the war in Vietnam, Bob Dylan, travels around the world, cleaning up the Hudson River, Granny D, Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton, and countless uncelebrated activists with whom Seeger has worked and sung. The portrait that emerges is not a saint, not a martyr, but a flesh-and-blood man, struggling to understand his gift, his time, and his place.
Click Here to listen to Pete Seeger's interview on WNYC with Brian Lehrer!
"Hearing Pete Seeger," Alec Wilkinson's review for The New Yorker Culture Desk on Pete Seeger's latest event in Bryant Park.
An article by the New Haven Register.
“Growing up with Pete’s music, I dreamed of making music and being an active citizen of the world. Read this book – and give it to your kids to read.”
"Pete Seeger is one of America's rare elders. Always hopeful, sometimes in the midst of despair, always ardent, and often wise, and having endured sacrifice, he appears in these pages of his writing and correspondence as an exemplar of courage, dignity, humility, and thoughtfulness."
—Alex Wilkinson, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger
“These writings are like hidden treasures – unaltered, unlaundered, and revealing Pete’s evolution as a conscientious and conflicted patriotic American. Pete’s letters and observations ensure that we won’t forget how his commitment to this simple act of singing songs – especially together – helped him cut across every barrier while speaking out for the things that he cared most about – truth and fairness.”
—Nick Forster, host of the nationally broadcast eTown
"Gathering the most extensive collection of Seeger's writings to date — ranging from unpublished letters, diaries, and notes to himself, to previously published album-liner notes, book introductions, and journal articles — sociologist Rob Rosenthal and his son, Sam Rosenthal, introduce a man deeply committed to the power of music, community, and ideas... This remarkable collection displays Seeger in all his cantankerous, playful, idealistic, and loving glory. He's one of America's national treasures, and this treasure trove of his writing reveals why."
“Thirty years ago, Pete Seeger sent me a letter supporting a political campaign. It was a leaf, carefully pasted on a hand-made card. He is one of our great trees. This book is a wonderful ‘leaf’ to future generations.”
"The Rosenthals deftly selected and arranged the material to tell Seeger's life story so that it reads like a full-fledged autobiography. The words are Seeger's, and the bountiful wisdom is Seeger's, but the handiwork is the Rosenthals'."
—Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive