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A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman
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A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  369 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
'A Dangerous Woman' is a graphic biography that embodies the richness and drama of Emma Goldman's extraordinary life, a life immersed in the struggle for equality and justice as she led hunger demonstrations during the Great Depression.
Paperback, 115 pages
Published September 30th 2007 by New Press, The (first published September 1st 2007)
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Dec 23, 2007 Emily rated it really liked it
Another shocking hole in my education filled in through comics. The illustrations are evocative and layered, and the text is for the most part directly from Goldman's biography. I have 1 quibble and 1 observation. Quibble: sometimes the layout/sequence of the drawings is a little confusing, but that could be because I am an old woman. Observation: the author is a huge fan of Goldman; the book could never be said to present an unbiased view of her life. Nevertheless very, very worth reading, esp. ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Paige rated it liked it

I feel kind of bad giving this book such a "low" rating, especially since I think it was well done. I liked the art and I know more about Emma Goldman's life than I did before. So why only 2.5 stars?

I think it has more to do with the format than anything. I've read one other graphic biography and encountered the same issues. That one--which about Karl Marx--was even shorter. I realize when you're condensing a life into about 100 illustrated pages, there is a lot you're going to have to cover
Stephanie Griffin
Feb 27, 2012 Stephanie Griffin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: political enthusiasts.
I wasn’t familiar with Emma Goldman (1869-1940) before reading A DANGEROUS WOMAN, the graphic biography (as opposed to a graphic novel) written and illustrated by Sharon Rudahl. This softcover book details her life from her birth in Russia, as an anarchist who traveled the world, the relationships she had, to her death at age 70.
The biography is a good introduction to Goldman for adults. If they’re intrigued they might consider reading further about this strong-willed woman who championed birth
Nov 05, 2007 Jenny rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: a high school student in U.S. History or U.S. Government Class
Rudahl's descriptive expository approach to Emma's story did not work for me; it seems her aim for this graphic biography was creation for the benefit of instruction--to teach the youth of today, which is perfectly fine. But to me the approach set a forced tone. I feel this could have been so much better had Rudahl taken another approach (e.g. telling the story from Emma directly or from the memory of Alexandar Berkman or niece Stella or from police files).

The art--I like how Rudahl uses a vari
Mar 03, 2015 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is a graphic biography of the Jewish anarchist activist Emma Goldman, and it definitely fills a niche that was lacking in my history classes. It goes into detail about her upbringing, education, personal life, and travels while chronicling her political career. However, I found it a very slow read, mostly because the text-to-image ratio is just too high for a graphic novel in my opinion. Combine that with busy composition and black and white sketch-style art, and the result is a page spread ...more
May 09, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book--Rudahl's artwork is great, and weaved throughout the storyline are actual quotes from Goldman and her comrades. My only 'complaint' is that Rudahl condenses a LOT of history into a hundred pages, so I found it a bit confusing in places (which isn't an altogether bad thing...I just checked out Goldman's autobiography for clarification!).
Garrett Cook
Apr 13, 2014 Garrett Cook rated it it was amazing
Want to know what to give every teenage girl on the planet for Christmas? Boom. You're welcome.
Jocelyn Brame
Nov 10, 2016 Jocelyn Brame rated it really liked it
Great mix of information and plot. Rudahl didn't shy away from Emma's sex life, choosing to depict the full, raw, sex-positive story. The slightly chaotic style of art paired well with Emma's often violent dedication to the anarchic movement, as well as her tendency to take up new causes. A Dangerous Woman is an important biography of a revolutionary woman.
Nov 25, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok
DNF Seemed a bit confusing and unfocused at times.
Nov 23, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
Emma Goldman is one of the big name names of American anarchists, as well as one of the earlier to contribute to free speech, birth control, and the labor movements. She was an amazing public speaker, something that is lost in this day of television and radio, and her writing still ranks amongst the classics of Anarchist thought for a free and just society. From her involvement in the shooting of Frick (though Alexander Berkman was a lousy shot) to free speech fights to labor struggles in Massac ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
Jul 26, 2012 Josephus FromPlacitas rated it really liked it
This was a decent survey of the life of one of my heroes, and certainly a lot easier to plow through than a thousand-page memoir. It did the job of conveying a biography and filling in a lot of life details in a brief, engaging way. But it did feel more like a job somehow, and not quite like a cohesive work of art, as in "Capital-A Art."

I couldn't get over the feeling of how unfinished and cluttered the drawings felt. It did a great job of communicating events and the characters. Don't get me wr
2.5 stars.

I didn't really like this much at all. I think Emma Goldman is FASCINATING (though I disagree with many of her beliefs), but this as a graphic novel was not great. The pages were crammed (cramped!) with text and information to the point that it took me a very long time to get through it. Or maybe it just felt like a long time because reading each page was so labor intensive. The illustrations are so marvelous, but I just can't get over how much stuff was on each page. There was so much
Jan 15, 2008 Amberly rated it it was amazing
I have always been an ardent fan of Emma Goldman. She tirelessly fought for free speech, long before the ACLU, birth control before Margaret Sanger, women's rights before suffrage, and free love before the sixties. She was a clever firecracker who would never be silenced; somehow immune to what the world expected and wanted of her. A selfless friend and patron to prostitutes, homeless, the huddled masses and wage-slaves everywhere; she never shied away from hard labor or hard choices, whenever s ...more
Mar 13, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok
What I like most about graphic novels is how the artist chooses to augment the story with his or her imagery. Whether it be by symbolism or just carefully constructed scenes. Dangerous Woman seemed to lack that purpose. It is primarily a crude pictorial sketch of Emma Goldman's life.

Though I wasn't impressed with the form, it's quick. It's a comic so you don't have much time to really dwell on its flaws. And, to the author's credit, she strives for authenticity by supposedly quoting verbatim fro
Jan 26, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it
While I enjoyed the general subject matter of the book and loved learning more about anarcho-feminist Emma Goldman, there were some sticky points that bring me to only giving it three stars. First, let me say that Rudahl is a wonderful artist with a lovely style and obvious passion for the subject. However, this is the first graphic novel I've read that I found difficult to follow the flow. Generally speaking the pictures are supposed to lead you to the next frame, but I often got lost and found ...more
Amy VanGundy
Feb 05, 2009 Amy VanGundy rated it it was ok
It's hard to articulate what I thought about this book. I'm not sure if I was turned off by the style of drawing which seemed very rough, crude, and edging on ugly to me or whether it was the person of Emma Goldman I was uncomfortable with. I was impressed by the way in which she lived her life which seems extraordinary for the times and social conditions she lived in. But I am sure that she would be a very uncomfortable person to meet face-to-face. Certainly opened my eyes to some new arenas of ...more
sweet pea
Sep 22, 2008 sweet pea rated it it was ok
although i love graphic memoir, i'm still not sure what i think about graphic biography. especially one which purports to tell an entire life (rather than a specific time period). mayhap the illustrations bring more people to the work? if that's the case, i don' think this graphic novel will do the trick. the illustrations, while adequate, are not appealing. throughout the book, i detest how emma's hair is drawn and the often disproportionately-drawn people. that said, there's a lot to be learne ...more
Shawn Birss
Jun 18, 2015 Shawn Birss rated it really liked it
This is a great introduction to the life of anarchist Emma Goldman. Even better, the medium of comics combined with the genre of biography makes this a great introduction to the history and relationships within anarchist thought in the 20th century. By showing the books Goldman was reading, in Russian and in English, and the philosophies and lifestyles of those with whom she organized and otherwise related, the book puts together a concise and easily understood foundation for understanding the r ...more
Robert Wright
Oct 06, 2016 Robert Wright rated it liked it
A brief, interesting bio-comic that I picked up from the library as a change of pace.

Interesting, but not amazing. Artistic style is not my favorite. I would have preferred something more realistic or expressionistic, rather than Rudahl's sketchy "underground" style. (Not quite sure that's a style itself, but the feel here is similar to what I get from the mileau of R. Crumb and those following in his footsteps.)

Enjoyable read and the subject of the bio is not nearly well-known in pop culture to
Dec 17, 2007 Claire rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those with a dim concept of, and passing interest in Emma Goldman
This was quick and entertaining. Plus, the sex scenes (taking place well into Emma's 50s) are brilliant—human, grotesque, ecstatic. This account of her life was actually kind of inspiring. It shows how fearlessness can create a great, memorable life, no matter how groping and sloppy the trip is. One thing that did strike me: the sheer number of people it took—from the random bohemian to the hardworking, responsible laborer to the enlightened rich—to keep this woman in lodging, food, lecture tour ...more
Liz Yerby
Feb 08, 2016 Liz Yerby rated it did not like it
alright nerds, i haven't even finished this book, but i'm gonna go ahead and give it a low score. graphic biographies can be decent, but me and the author have some major issues in how we think politics should be represented.

the most painful panels are comparing emma goldman to MLK as a great orator out of nowhere, and then emma goldman telling someone "let me explain the social factors behind your oppression"

this book is reminding me why i don't trust and always get along with anarchists.

the ar
Jan 28, 2009 Ami rated it liked it
I like the format of graphic biography, and this one was pretty engaging. I learned a lot about Emma Goldman's life, especially given that I didn't know much at all about her before I read this book, but I don't feel like I gathered enough about her politics from it. Also, I didn't really care for the artwork, and the placement of text made it sometimes hard to follow. But yeah, it was a good short read and at times pretty funny (Teddy Roosevelt, reading The Jungle, turns to congressmen & sc ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Dan rated it liked it
Came across this in a library while I was looking to kill some time and read in in one sitting. I've been interested in learning more about Emma Goldman and this certainly helps with the rough biography and a brief intro to hear ideas. The graphic aspect certainly made it more readable. Overall, I wasn't blown away, but the book served its purpose and if you're also looking to get a brief intro to Red Emma, this ought to do, although I'll certainly look further to find any real in depth understa ...more
Emilia P
Uck. Comics have the power to offer new, unique perspectives and interpretations. But the material for this came straight out of biographies and historical materials, and not in any particularly innovative way or with a unifying theme. Unless that theme was: agitate for agitation's sake without any real sense of the people you're agitating for, and oh yeah, isn't it neat that Emma Goldman had lots of lovers and got kicked out of some countries? I am sure there is an interesting biography of Emma ...more
Dec 19, 2010 Grace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
I absolutely loved this. It didn't give me a whole lot of new information (though I knew more about Goldman's political life than her personal one, and the personal details were fascinating), but seeing it presented in this way really made it all come alive. The book seemed to be both well-researched and accurate AND entertaining, and that's rare in any kind of historical account. I'll be recommending this book far and wide, for sure.
Michael Caplan
Mar 05, 2013 Michael Caplan rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchism
Rudahl's A Dangerous Woman brings the life of Emma Goldman back to life on the pages of this great biographical graphic novel. She introduces readers to the avant-garde anarchist politics of the former half of the 20th century through an account of Goldman's life long commitment to the causes she grappled with. The biography is also personal. Rudahl spends considerable time weaving in Goldman's love life, family, and personal relationships.
Jan 27, 2008 jess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2008
this illustrated biography is based mostly on emma goldman's autobiography living my life. i felt like the illustrations greatly enhanced the story of Red Emma's journey from Russia to the States and back. Through sweatshops, lecture circuits, publishing, organizing, deportation, love and loss, Goldman's story is a fascinating bedtime tale for the nostalgia of modern-day revolutionaries.

Thanks, Carnegie Library!
Oct 21, 2010 Tinea rated it liked it
Recommended to Tinea by: housemate's comic book pile
Fun short comic bio of Emma Goldman. I liked how the artist aged Emma, with old-lady sex scenes all lumpy-bodied and great. In some ways, Emma Goldman's life is sort of underhwelming to read about: she was a writer and an orator, after all. I prefer her own words to descriptions of her life, which was more in support of campaigns than doing crazy shit. Or like, she did so much crazy shit that the craziness gets lost in the commonness of it all. Or something. Whatever. I enjoyed this.
Feb 24, 2010 Vicky rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, comics
I was looking for her book of essays last month when I came upon this illustrated biography, so I read it in one of the aisles of the UIC library, and I'll say this is a good introduction for Emma Goldman's life because when I first learned her name, I kept thinking of a black feminist/anarchist, but clearly the cover illustrates otherwise. Now I know that she was Russian.
Jul 07, 2008 kubby added it
i love there are books like this.
it covered emma's life from childhood to death.
however, there was so much information to cover that parts of it seemed too abbreviated and there were some definite parts that were choppy to read--as in the flow of the page wasn't clear as to what order to read what came next.
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