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Paul Buhle

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Caricature by Steve Chappell 

Paul Buhle is an aged revolutionary, involved in social movements for fifty years as of 2010. He founded the SDS journal Radical America, the Oral History of the American Left project at NYU, has taken part in many failed but semi-historic movements, and has been reinvented if not reborn as an editor/creator of radical comic books. He is still a syndicalist.

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Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero, A Graphic Guide
By Paul Buhle
Illustrator: Chris Hutchinson
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-318-5
Published May 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 10 by 7
Length: 96 Pages
Subjects: History, Graphic Novel

$15.00

Where and what was Robin Hood? Why is an outlaw from fourteenth century England still a hero today, with films, festivals and songs dedicated to his living memory?

This book explores the mysteries, the historical evidence, and the trajectory that led to centuries of village festivals around Mayday and the green space of nature unconquered by the forces in power. Great revolutionaries including William Morris adopted Robin as hero, children’s books offered many versions, and Robin entered modern popular culture with cheap novels, silent films and comics.

There, in the world of popular culture, Robin Hood continues to holds unique and secure place. The “bad-good” hero of pulp urban fiction of the 1840s-50s, and more important, the Western outlaw who thwarts the bankers in pulps, films, and comics, is essentially Robin Hood. So are Zorro, the Cisco Kid, and countless Robin Hood knockoff characters in various media.

Robin Hood has a special resonance for leftwing influences on American popular culture in Hollywood, film and television. During the 1930s-50s, future blacklist victims devised radical plots of “people’s outlaws,” including anti-fascist guerilla fighters, climaxing in The Adventures of Robin Hood, network television 1955-58, written under cover by victims of the Blacklist, seen by more viewers than any other version of Robin Hood.

Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero also features 30 pages of collages and comic art, recuperating the artistic interpretations of Robin from seven centuries, and offering new comic art as a comic-within-a book.

With text by Paul Buhle, comics and assorted drawings by Christopher Hutchinson, Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero adds another dimension to the history and meaning of rebellion.

Praise:

“Paul Buhle is the best informed and most sincere left-wing scholar that I know.” —Harvey Pekar, artist

“Paul Buhle is my socialist conscience.” —Robert Crumb, artist

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Events

For a calendar of speaking events, please click here

Blog

  • Robin Hood (Again!)
    Six or seven centuries since the mythic people’s outlaw became a celebrated hero in parts of England, the populist avenger of Sherwood Forest has made yet another encore.
  • A Syndicalist Memory
    A handful of friends, old and new, have asked me about the path that my ideas and activities have taken me, some fifty years after I happened across a civil rights picket line in my hometown of Champaign, Illinois in the summer of 1960. The publication of a small Robin Hood volume by PM, closer to sixty years since my discovery of the great forest rebel in comics or children’s books, affords me the opportunity to adapt a particular thread of memory to the potential interest of readers drawn to an author’s blog.

What others are saying...

Interviews:

Reviews:


robin The Happy Hero: An Interview With Paul Buhle About Robin Hood
By Leslie Thatcher
Truthout
October 28th, 2012

We need Robin Hood because he protects the "outside" and the "outsiders." A precursive champion of Occupy, he occupies the Greenwood, has comrades in the centers of oppression (Maid Marian is the most effective) and the support of the common village folk. He is larger than life but also part of life. Within English language lore, there has been no one in almost a thousand years who is so popular, not even King Arthur or Sir Galahad. Robin defeats the criminalization of poverty by resisting the criminality of the upper classes.

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robin A Red Robin?
By Michael Schreiber
Socialist Action
July 12, 2012

Why read this book? Because the world still has a need for Robin. Today, Buhle points out, “the rich and powerful now command almost every corner of the planet and, in order to maintain their control, threaten to despoil every natural resource to the point of exhaustion. Meanwhile, billions of people are impoverished below levels of decency during centuries of subsistence living.”

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robin A Red Robin?
by Albert Ruben
Monthly Review
May 2012
Volume 64, Issue 01

According to Buhle, Robin Hood has two defining identities. The foremost is the bandit who robs from the rich and gives to the poor; close behind is the denizen of the forest. How, then, does a venerable literary figure defined in these ways meet current social needs? On the one hand, it is because of the maldistribution of wealth that is an increasingly glaring feature of late capitalism. On the other hand, it is because of the global assault on the environment.

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robin Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero, A Graphic Guide
MidWest Book Review

To break the law for the greater good is a trope that has its roots in the legend of a fourteenth century forest bandit. "Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero" chronicles the impact of the legend, looking at its historical context and its continual impact that lives on in modern media and pop culture, romanticizing the people's outlaw ideal. With plenty of art strewn about the writing, "Robin Hood" is a strong addition to any literary studies collection focusing on legends of popular culture.

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robin Occupy Sherwood Forest
In These Times
April 1, 2012

The struggle for common space, common decision-making, whether rural, metropolitan or global, can be usefully traced back, in one part of the world, to the changes forced upon royalty in the Magna Carta. They carry us forward to our opposition against privatization of formerly public goods and space, beyond remedies for the excesses of contemporary capitalism, toward a society of a different (and more sustainable) kind. Many millions of farms, urban neighborhoods and software programs can be or in many cases are already being operated on some basis of sharing. ... "[C]ommoning" is the opposite of the imperial mode, right down to the struggle against dams being constructed on rivers in or outside forests, around the world. If the "primitive accumulation" (Marx's own phrase) of capitalism was effected through enclosuresthe privatization of previously common lands for the purpose of successful wool production a couple of centuries after Robin's appearance - then he and the Merry Men (not forgetting Maid Marian) had been seeing to nip the process in the bud. Marx erred, writing in the middle of the 19th century, not by failing to see the utter misery introduced to move primitive accumulation forward, but by not seeing that primitive accumulation as a permanent process. With so little of the planet not yet completely exploited, the process nevertheless accelerates. We need Robin more than ever.

robin Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero: A Review
By John Steven
North Adams Transcript
February 6th, 2012

In Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero, Paul Buhle takes a thematic approach that, through sheer luck, pairs with much of the political movements going on today.

Specifically, Buhle comes from an extreme leftist viewpoint, almost revolutionary, and his examination of the legend of Robin elicits Occupy and Anonymous more than anything else. And the existence of those two entities speak more than anything else as to the continued relevance of the legend of Robin Hood in our society.

 

robin Who's your favourite Robin?: A Review
Nottingham Post
January 7th, 2012

"Robin Hood seemed really interesting and wonderful for the reasons little boys think he's interesting and wonderful – because he's rebellious and romantic," says Paul.

The book discusses Robin Hood's influence on popular culture, not only looking at the many depictions of the man himself, but also at ways in which he's been recreated in other outlaw stories – including Zorro, Billy the Kid and Jesse James.

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