Pete Seeger in His Own Words

Edited by

Foreword by

Book Info

  • Length: 300 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

More books in:


  • ISBN: 978-1-61205-218-2
  • Publish date: June 2012
  • List Price: $29.95
  • Your Price: $25.46

Lib Ebook

  • ISBN: 978-1-61205-384-4
  • Publish date: January 2013
  • List Price: $29.95
  • Your Price: $25.46


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.

Author Info

Pete Seeger, (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) the internationally acclaimed songwriter, musician, and activist, was married to his wife, Toshi (July 1, 1922 – July 9, 2013), for nearly 70 years. They are survived by their daughter, Tinya. In 2009 the PBS film The Power of Song celebrated his activism through music. There is a movement underway to nominate Mr. Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rob Rosenthal, Provost and Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, is the coauthor recently of Playing for Change: Music and Musicians in the Service of Social Movements and an editor of Pete Seeger: His Life in His Own Words.

Sam Rosenthal is a musician and writer who lives in New York City.

David Amram has composed more than one hundred orchestral and chamber works; written many scores for Broadway theater and film, including the classic scores for the films Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate; composed two operas, including the ground-breaking Holocaust opera The Final Ingredient; and composed the score for the landmark 1959 documentary Pull My Daisy, narrated by Jack Kerouac. He is the author of the books Vibrations, an autobiography, Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac, and Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat."

A pioneer of jazz French horn and World Music, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from twenty-five countries. He is also an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, who chose him as the New York Philharmonic’s first composer-in-residence in 1966, Langston Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Depp, Tito Puente, and many others. Amram’s most popular recent works are Giants of the Night, a flute concerto commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway and dedicated to the memory of Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, and Dizzy Gillespie, and Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.

Today, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, band leader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages. He is currently collaborating with author Frank McCourt on Missa Manhattan, for narrator, chorus, and orchestra, and composing a new piano concerto. All of his concert music is published by C. F. Peters Corporation.


"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

"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, in The Progressive

"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."
Library Journal

“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.”
Dar Williams

“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

“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.”
Tom Hayden

“The book offers unusual insight into Seeger’s motivations, and for his relentless optimism in the face of adversity. Seeger has spoken the truth for nearly 100 years, and his writings offer inspiration to all those working for peace, justice and for a better world…[Rob and Sam Rosenthal] have produced a book that all Seeger admirers will want to read.”
Randy Shaw, Editor of BeyondChron

About Us | Contact | Order Information | Sales Reps | Employment