From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–"All good men have lost a comrade in the fight for the legal emancipation of one race and the spiritual emancipation of all." In 1892, these were the words used to describe the "Noble Life" of Frederick Douglass, a man from the humblest of beginnings who became a powerful and prolific opponent of slavery and injustice. With careful attention to historical detail, Adler presents a compelling exploration of Douglass's personal journey as well as an examination of his astute observations of the psychological effects of the institution of slavery on both the enslaved and the masters. A standout in the book is the description of the brutality of Douglass's childhood as a slave with an account of his near starvation and physical abuse that clearly demonstrates what ignited his passion for freedom for himself and others. A meeting between himself as an adult and one of his former masters is particularly mesmerizing. Photographs and engravings of Douglass at work, with his family, his home, and the office where he printed his famous newspaper, The North Star, remind readers that he was a real person, vulnerable and yet hopeful in his determination that all people would experience freedom. This well-written and absorbing read is an important inclusion for all collections. Extensive notes, important dates, and a thorough index are appended.Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ
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*Starred Review* Adler, the author of more than 200 books for young readers, has now written a thoroughly researched, lucidly written biography of the great Frederick Douglass. Born a slave in 1817 or 1818 (the date is uncertain), Douglass fled to freedom in 1838 and subsequently became one of America's most celebrated abolitionists, orators, and passionate champions of freedom for African Americans. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845, became a best-seller and catapulted him to fame. Of course, any story of Douglass is also the story of slavery, and Adler does an excellent job of exploring the atrocities and dehumanizing indignities that America's “peculiar institution” visited on those who lived in slavery. As demonstrated by Adler's generous use of quotations from Douglass' own writings, many of the most dramatic of these abominations are the ones that Douglass himself suffered both before and after he became a free man. Though Adler may sometimes be too much an advocate for Douglass, giving too little attention to some of the many controversies that visited Douglass' life and career, he nevertheless clearly demonstrates that Douglass was, indeed, one of the great men of the nineteenth century. Grades 6-10. --Michael Cart