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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Paperback – Unabridged, April 13, 1995

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From the Back Cover

Former slave, impassioned abolitionist, brilliant writer, newspaper editor and eloquent orator whose speeches fired the abolitionist cause, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) led an astounding life. Physical abuse, deprivation and tragedy plagued his early years, yet through sheer force of character he was able to overcome these obstacles to become a leading spokesman for his people.
In this, the first and most frequently read of his three autobiographies, Douglass provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom.
Published in 1845 to quell doubts about his origins—since few slaves of that period could write—the Narrative is admired today for its extraordinary passion, sensitive and vivid descriptions and storytelling power. It belongs in the library of anyone interested in African-American history and the life of one of the country's most courageous and influential champions of civil rights.
Unabridged Dover (1995) republication of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, first published by The Anti-Slavery Office, Boston, 1845. New introductory Note. Preface by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Letter from Wendell Phillips, Esq. 96pp. 53/16 x 81/4.Paperbound.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1080L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Unabridged edition (April 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486284999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486284996
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By James Yanni on December 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Anyone who wishes to be considered at all educated in the history of the United States MUST read this book. The period of this history is absolutely critical to an understanding of the country both before and after that time, as well, obviously, as during that time. And without reading the account of this great American of his experiences, one can not, truly, understand that time period.
Granted, there will be those who will argue, "But why should we need to read an anti-slavery tract; there's no one alive now who would argue in favor of slavery, or deny that it was a great evil. To read a book whose primary purpose was to convince people of what is now considered obvious is pointless." But the same argument could be used to apply to reading a biography of George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson. Most of the issues that were important to them are currently decided, and decided in their favor. Yet it is still considered neccessary for an educated American to have at least a passing idea of the history of their lives.
The same is true of Frederick Douglass. The man risked his life for freedom, just as surely as did Patrick Henry, or any of the founding fathers, and his history is just as much a part of this country as theirs is; further, it is worth seeing just how literate a man born in slavery, not only self-taught, but self-taught on the sly, against every effort of his oppressors to stifle his education, can be. His facility for language is frankly better than 90% of modern Americans of any color, in spite of virtually universal education. He was a great man, and deserves to be recognized as such.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Betti on December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do yourself a favor and pick up a different edition of this classic work. This one is inexpensive, sure, but not very reader-friendly. The print is small and crammed, and the paper is akin to newsprint. It does not invite you to read it, which is unfortunate: too few people are reading classics these days as it is.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Shopper on February 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book has very tiny print making it a tough read. Would have been better if it were normal font size.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Sexton on September 21, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe that this autobiography can best be summed up by a quote in the middle of the book: "You have seen how a man becomes a slave. You will now see how a slave becomes a man."
As a small child, Douglass overhears his master berating his mistress because she was trying to teach the boy to read. Douglass realizes that his master wants to keep him ignorant. From that point on he vows to become the best man he can possibly become, and to become his own Master. His challenges as a child are simpler; tricking other children into playing Alphabet games so that he may slowly learn to read. As he becomes older, his challenges become more complex and dangerous; dealing with the Slave Breaker, a man that uses brutality to condition slaves into complete submission. When it suits his needs, Douglass allows his oppressors to believe his is defeated, but he never allows anyone to take his humanity or dignity. The reader travels with Douglass on his quest from the moment he is separated from his mother as an infant, to his days beginning in the abolitionists movement.
It is unfortunate that Douglass was unable to write of the details of his final escape from slavery because he was still worried about exposing those who assisted him in his flight.
Douglas also does an excellent job of demonstrating how slavery is also destructive to the spirit of those who practice slavery. We meet not only the Master and the Slave Breaker, but we also meet kind and loving women who eventually become hardened and cruel after being forced to accept their fellow man as only chattel.
Everyone should read this short book at least once in their lives. It is important to experience a first hand account of the past evils of our society.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Mcgranaghan on September 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent narrative from a slave of the highest acumen. This books details the oppression that Douglass went through before he finally escaped to freedom.
Douglass wrote several autobiographies, but this is the most read. This narrative is in a genre that was popular with abolitionists in the pre-war north. The reader should note that most of the narratives written at that time had a rigid caste, so Douglass' narrative is not as original as it might seem. In his later autobiographies he contradicts some important events in this narrative. However, with that said, it is still a book of the highest order. I gave the book 5 stars because it is truly a masterpiece, in both writing and theme, and therefore should be read by all who can. I've recommended this book to my friends and they all agree. The Dover edition is only about 80 pages long, so it can easily be read in one or two sittings.
One more caveat; if you are interested in learning about how Douglass escaped to freedom, this is not the book. I was a little disappointed because Douglass did not give any details about his escape to New York. The book was published in pre-war America, and he could not risk exposing those who had helped him to the general public. Nevertheless, this book is gripping and will hold you till the very end.
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