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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself (Bedford Series in History and Culture) [Paperback]

Frederick Douglass , David W. Blight
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 25, 2002 0312257376 978-0312257378 2nd
This second edition of Douglass's Narrative reprints this classic document together with speeches and letters, all in a volume designed for undergraduate students. An extensive introduction places the Narrative in its historical and literary contexts with annotations on needed background.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-This classic text in both American literature and American history is read by Pete Papageorge with deliberation and simplicity, allowing the author's words to bridge more than 160 years to today's listeners. Following a stirring preface by William Lloyd Garrison (who, nearly 20 years after he first met Douglass, would himself lead the black troops fighting from the North in the Civil War), the not-yet-30-year-old author recounts his life's story, showing effective and evocative use of language as well as unflinchingly examining many aspects of the Peculiar Institution of American Slavery. Douglass attributes his road to freedom as beginning with his being sent from the Maryland plantation of his birth to live in Baltimore as a young boy. There, he learned to read and, more importantly, learned the power of literacy. In early adolescence, he was returned to farm work, suffered abuse at the hands of cruel overseers, and witnessed abuse visited on fellow slaves. He shared his knowledge of reading with a secret "Sunday school" of 40 fellow slaves during his last years of bondage. In his early 20's, he ran away to the North and found refuge among New England abolitionists. Douglass, a reputed orator, combines concrete description of his circumstances with his own emerging analysis of slavery as a condition. This recording makes his rich work available to those who might feel encumbered by the printed page and belongs as an alternative in all school and public library collections.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Review of the 1st edition 'This is a book that should be on the reading list of every course on American history or literature...with its excellent notes, bibliography and appendices, this supersedes other versions available in paperback.' - Adam Lively, Times Educational Supplement

Product Details

  • Series: Bedford Series in History and Culture
  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; 2nd edition (December 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312257376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312257378
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This fiery autobiography, written as anti-slavery propaganda, told of his struggle to gain freedom, identified his "owner", and became a 19th century national bestseller. Long before Uncle Tom's Cabin opened the eyes of sentimental Northerners to the evils of slavery, Douglass' chronicle inspired the small abolitionist movement and challenged the conscience of the United States to live up to the heroic ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence... "all men are created equal."
The publication of this masterpiece also forced Douglass into exile in England for two years to avoid capture by slave traders. British supporters eventually "purchased" Douglass allowing this great American to return to the United States and live in freedom.
While the battle against slavery was won almost 150 years ago, this autobiography's remains a very powerful tool against racism, ignorance, and historical amnesia. Douglass links his quest for literacy with his need to be treated as a man - and become a free man. This book should be required reading, for all American schoolchildren, in the middle school and excerpts should be constantly used in high school and college courses. Adult literacy centers should find this story a powerful inspiration too.
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105 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 9 year olds review February 26, 2006
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
Frederick Douglass's auto biography is about him as a kid and partially as an adult. I think it is a good book because it describes the harshness of slavery. I also think it is an interesting way to be informed.

It is an excellent source of information. It has a vivid description of the work fields and how it feels to see a family member being ruthlessly whipped. It also gives you a feeling you are talking to Frederick himself. It suddenly makes you aware of the relationship between you and him. Everybody probably has a relation with him ranging from skin tones to hardship. We all have at least one if not 2or3 similarities.

I think that this book is not for children younger than 9 because it has intense parts about naughty haywire masters. It is for the type of person who likes history . When you are reading this book, you may understand why people started the civil war. I think it made people start the civil war because they read this book and got very angry at slavery. Also I think it made the masters mad. That may have also started the civil war

Nathaniel age 9
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a moving testimony March 5, 2002
Format:Paperback
I often believe it is easy to criticize nineteenth century Americans for not stepping up to the plate regarding the issue of slavery and race in America. Jefferson may well have agonized over the issue he called the "death knell of the nation" and which he labeled a "neccessary evil." Certainly he benefitted by the ownership of nearly 300 slaves, but he grew up in a world in which slavery was the norm. It takes a revoutionary and remarkable man to truly stand against the only world he knows and move to create a different world, so I usually defend Jefferson and his political vision which clearly transcended that world.
Reading Frederick Douglass, however, makes me wonder how anyone with firsthand knowledge of the institution could not see the obvious pain and cruelty which existed right in front of his or her eyes. Douglass's narrative, and particularly his descriptions of the slave trade in Baltimore and the obvious place of the whip (whether used or not) as the principal vehicle of social control argues most eloquently that though the slave system may have been a social norm, the blinders had to be unbelievably thick not to see the horrors that the institution wrought. The relationship of slave and master perpetuated a most un-American (at least in terms of our professed values--cf. Douglass's later antislavery orations) tyranny and oppression. Douglass's narrative testifies that our ancestors could have seen much more and done much more and that 600,000 lives and a subsequent 120 years of racial schism and pain was too much a price to bear for the peculiar institution.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential April 28, 2008
By JoeyD
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death." Frederic Douglass

Frederic Douglass tells us the REAL story about slavery in early America. From the first page to the last, I was totally transfixed. There are so many things to admire about this great American. On top of being brilliant and brave and benevolent and broad-minded, etc... what I truly admire about this amazing soul was the fact that he is able to tell us his story sans bitterness. For let me tell you, if the majority of us had to endure one iota of what this man went through... Let's just say that those saccharine sweet saga's like "Gone with the Wind" left a few pertinent things out!

This is one hell of a powerful story! The brutalities of slavery will disgust you, but to see this beautiful soul rise above it all is something special. He is the most important figure in nineteenth-century black American literature and a man that merits more attention than he gets. This is a magnificient achievement, an important work of art.

Very highly recommended!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading August 27, 2004
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
I read this book as part of a summer assignment entering into the 11th grade in addition to "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs. Both are great pieces of African-American historical literature and well worth the read. I couldn't read this book all in one sitting, due to the need to fight the urge to throw up. He detailed descriptions of physical, psycological, and emotional abuse are enough to sicken any one and make you disgusted with the human race.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it!
Published 4 days ago by Barbara P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great resource for History class.
Published 5 days ago by SMelton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
was great for my civil war class in college.
Published 6 days ago by darkfaire
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 9 days ago by shikira
4.0 out of 5 stars remarkable
Remarkable for the narrative , the writer and the period. This should be required reading for every American student and students of history.
Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars This version is worth the little extra money
The analysis by Dr. Angela Davis, as well as her own more contemporary experience of racism, is a poignant reminder that we still have much more work in the area of race relations. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Kristin Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars Challange
My first thought was how easily we forget, that its not long since slavery was an accepted practice in certain countries very close to our own. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Malcolm Fenton
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read - recommend
This is the story of Frederick Douglass as told by him. It is unique in that it is not just another history book written about slavery in the early 1800s but an autobiographical... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Janna
4.0 out of 5 stars Required but good!
My daughter had to read this for class. It came quickly and in good shape and she enjoyed it a lot.
Published 1 month ago by Annette Lidawer
5.0 out of 5 stars Frederick Douglass
This is an autobiography that was written by a former slave in the 1800's. Frederick Douglass was born into slavery, his mother was African American, his father whose identity he... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Naida M.
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