[An] extraordinary figure ... Though the book is a biography of Robinson, it also paints a picture of a changing California, from the Victorian era through the Spanish flu ... Deeply researched, Listen, World! includes passages from Robinson’s columns, books and letters, among other sources ... The book’s prose is clear and engaging, with vivid descriptions.
An engaging tale that doesn’t gloss over the extreme adversity and restrictions Robinson faced as a woman of much ambition and few means ... The book trails off somewhat, glossing over Robinson’s later marriage to a man who spends all her money ... The absence of other voices — readers, colleagues, friends — makes it difficult to gauge what sort of influence she actually wielded. At times Listen, World! reads less like biography than a heavily annotated, if enjoyable, memoir ... Still, much like her devoted audience, one does not tire of spending time with Elsie Robinson, nor stop wondering how many other women, with equally compelling tales, have also been lost to history.
At this point — the start of her newspaper career — the book Listen, World! is more than two-thirds finished. And that may be something of a clue as to why Robinson is not well remembered. What made her most interesting is the nervy life that came before, which Scheeres and Gilbert have ably stitched together in no small part, they acknowledge, by fact-checking Robinson’s 1934 memoir. What stands out most about Robinson’s career, though, is her astounding productivity.