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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Modern Library Classics) Mass Market Paperback – December 28, 2004

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Modern Library Classics) + The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions)
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About the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at Princeton University. His works include In My Father’s House and Cosmopolitanism.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345478231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345478238
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sam A. on May 14, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Ann Jacobs, is a first-hand account of the author's life as a slave in the early 1800's. It is also a thrilling story of Jacobs's incredible struggle to gain her freedom. The memoir begins in North Carolina when Jacobs is born into slavery in 1813, and takes her, as a young adult, to New York and Massachusetts. Using the pseudonym Linda Brent, Jacobs tells her harrowing story in a powerful voice that the reader cannot forget. What makes Jacobs's account unique is that she writes about the horrors of slavery from a female perspective, as a young woman and as a mother.

Both of Jacob's parents were light-skinned mulatto slaves, and so was she. Jacobs was bright and articulate, and she had a strong, independent spirit. Although she writes that "human slaveholders" were "like angels' visits--few and far between," she did meet a few kind white people during her hard life. One of them, her first mistress, taught Jacobs to read and spell. That ability, which was forbidden to most slaves under penalty of severe punishment, gave Jacobs self-esteem and helped her to persevere in the face of horrible adversity. In Frederick Douglass's Narrative of his life as a slave, he also explains how learning to read and write gave him the hope and inspiration he needed to turn away from despair and reach for a better life.

During the course of Jacobs's memoir, she gives birth to two children, a son and then a daughter. At the birth of her daughter, instead of being joyful, Jacobs writes, "When they told me my new-born babe was a girl, my heart was heavier than it had ever been before. Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T on June 7, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
These two books are sometimes very hard going, but essential reading for Americans. We probably tend to think about slavery very much in the abstract, when we even think about it, but these narratives make it painfully palpable and very human. In a way complementary to Akhil Reed Amar's brilliant description of the way slavery thoroughly corrupted the American political system (in his America's Constitution), these books reveal in detail the thoroughgoing and extraordinary moral perversion slaveholding caused in individual lives - to some extent those of slaves, but much more those of slave owners, poor southern whites, and complicit northerners. Of course we also see the brutality, horrors and deprivations of slave life.

Douglass' narrative is better known than Jacobs.' Among many other things, how he taught himself to write is a remarkable story of shrewdness and determination against all odds. Jacobs' was an appalling life of virtually constant sexual harassment from an early age, which was undoubtedly a normal situation for many female slaves. What she went through to escape it is hard to imagine, and her single-minded determination to see her children free is incredible. The picture she gives of the distortions slavery caused in slaveholding families - lecherous men unconstrained by law or convention, angry and vengeful wives, gossip and whispering among white and black children and adults, children sold by their fathers to get the family features and relations out of sight and mind, and the increasing corruption of individuals' characters this caused over time - again, hard going but essential reading. A peculiar institution, ordained by God, good for the slave and slaveholder alike. Indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By IRMAJ on September 20, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It appears the South still hasn't overcome the deep seeded resentment of African Americans aka blacks and coloreds as witnessed by the underlying hatred and disrespect shown President Obama. That slave owners could whip a slave with impunity, force an underage female slave to submit to sex and bear his offspring, often selling them, forbid a slave to learn to read or write and punish them severely if they did, boggles my mind. And all of these subhuman treatments were heaped on slaves before their pious masters attended church on Sundays. Even legally emancipated,the south for years insisted blacks be segregated as whites considered themselves superior. A sad blot on the history of this country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookalaka on April 17, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very triumphant story of two unlikely people that overcame great obstacles. I am a history fanactic and I read this book through in just a few days. Gives you a great preview of life in those days. Book arrived in nice condition. If you like to read about history but worry sometimes it could get a bit boring, u should get this one it will keep you awake. It's a touching story.Also loved the fact that I got two books in one at a great price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael M. on December 8, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are African-American or an American from any other racial background you need to know the history of this awesome nation. I say awesome because these stories make me so proud to be a young black man making it in this country today, listen if you don't know of the great Frederick Douglass or the tenacious Harriet Jacobs then get to know them today and learn about why slavery will never hold the human spirit down.
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Reading the book in class brought a brand new dynamic to teaching the essay course. Students became totally engaged and the discussions were wonderful.
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Modern Library Classics)
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