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The Story of My Life (Bantam Classic) [Kindle Edition]

Helen Keller
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

An American classic rediscovered by each generation, The Story of My Life is Helen Keller’s account of her triumph over deafness and blindness. Popularized by the stage play and movie The Miracle Worker, Keller’s story has become a symbol of hope for people all over the world.

This book–published when Keller was only twenty-two–portrays the wild child who is locked in the dark and silent prison of her own body. With an extraordinary immediacy, Keller reveals her frustrations and rage, and takes the reader on the unforgettable journey of her education and breakthroughs into the world of communication. From the moment Keller recognizes the word “water” when her teacher finger-spells the letters, we share her triumph as “that living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!” An unparalleled chronicle of courage, The Story of My Life remains startlingly fresh and vital more than a century after its first publication, a timeless testament to an indomitable will.


From the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Helen Keller would not be bound by conditions. Rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she learned to read (in several languages) and even speak, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, where as a student she wrote The Story of My Life. That she accomplished all of this in an age when few women attended college and the disabled were often relegated to the background, spoken of only in hushed tones, is remarkable. But Keller's many other achievements are impressive by any standard: she authored 13 books, wrote countless articles, and devoted her life to social reform. An active and effective suffragist, pacifist, and socialist (the latter association earned her an FBI file), she lectured on behalf of disabled people everywhere. She also helped start several foundations that continue to improve the lives of the deaf and blind around the world.

As a young girl Keller was obstinate, prone to fits of violence, and seething with rage at her inability to express herself. But at the age of 7 this wild child was transformed when, at the urging of Alexander Graham Bell, Anne Sullivan became her teacher, an event she declares "the most important day I remember in all my life." (Sullivan herself had once been blind, but partially recovered her sight after a series of operations.) In a memorable passage, Keller writes of the day "Teacher" led her to a stream and repeatedly spelled out the letters w-a-t-e-r on one of her hands while pouring water over the other. This method proved a revelation: "That living world awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away." And, indeed, most of them were.

In her lovingly crafted and deeply perceptive autobiography, Keller's joyous spirit is most vividly expressed in her connection to nature:

Indeed, everything that could hum, or buzz, or sing, or bloom, had a part in my education.... Few know what joy it is to feel the roses pressing softly into the hand, or the beautiful motion of the lilies as they sway in the morning breeze. Sometimes I caught an insect in the flower I was plucking, and I felt the faint noise of a pair of wings rubbed together in a sudden terror....

The idea of feeling rather than hearing a sound, or of admiring a flower's motion rather than its color, evokes a strong visceral sensation in the reader, giving The Story of My Life a subtle power and beauty. Keller's celebration of discovery becomes our own. In the end, this blind and deaf woman succeeds in sharpening our eyes and ears to the beauty of the world. --Shawn Carkonen

From Library Journal

More than a 100th-anniversary reprint, this book was reedited by literary scholar Roger Shattuck and Keller biographer Dorothy Hermann to include excised material.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 219 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553213873
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (October 25, 2005)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FCKGNO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,828 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary woman; an inspiring story October 28, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Helen Keller (1880-1968) is a revered figure in American popular culture. Struck deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months, she still managed to get an education and become a writer and activist. Her story was further popularized by William Gibson's play "The Miracle Worker," which was also adapted for both film and television.
Keller's autobiography, "The Story of My Life," first appeared in installments in "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1902. This book is truly one of the great American autobiographies: an inspiring story of a courageous individual who overcame tremendous odds.
Keller writes about many things: her childhood in Alabama; her relationship with her beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan; her attendance at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City; and meeting such eminent figures as Mark Twain. She especially stresses her love of literature, which she describes as "my Utopia."
Along the way are some fascinating details and profoundly moving passages. Her tribute to the Homer, the blind poet of ancient Greece, is particularly powerful. I also loved her interpretation of the biblical Book of Ruth: a story of "love which can rise above conflicting creeds and deep-seated racial prejudices."
I think that many will regard Keller's autobiography as a mere historical or sociological document. But I think the book deserves a place as a great work of literature, and moreover as a work of literature in the great American tradition. Keller's poetic, often sensuous words about the natural world are comparable to the work of Emily Dickinson. And her stirring account of her revelatory awareness of language reminds me of Frederick Douglass' account of his first awareness of the power of literacy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Woman! August 2, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The miraculous Helen Keller and her equally astounding teacher, Annie Sullivan, go into great detail of their struggles to overcome Helen's grave disabilities. It is so astounding, in fact, that it's almost incomprehensible. Helen's amazing mental ability, Annie's guidance and their mutual tenacity are surely to be credited.
It is a wonderful story to read, especially so because it is told BY them and not as interpreted by a third-party biographer.
Unfortunately, Helen's eloquence and the prose of the day can border on the flowery side (to be it mildly) which made me unable to push through as quickly as I might have otherwise.
But then again, that's the beauty of her success story: it WASN'T too good to be true!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Autobiography by a Deafblind Author August 5, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is Helen Keller's autobiography and is somewhat unusual because Helen Keller was deafblind. It is beautifully written and although I don't necessary agree with all the conclusions drawn by the author of the introduction, I found the autobiography very moving to read. Much of the time Helen wrote in a way that you would not realise she could neither see nor hear anything around her.

The fact that Miss Keller was not deaf from birth but became deafblind as a very small child following an illness makes her achievements particularly incredible. She had to re-learn her communication skills and this is due in no small part to her teacher and mentor, Annie Sullivan. Miss Keller came from a wealthy family who were prepared to go to endless lengths to help their daughter to live a fulfilling life, and it is thanks to them and to Miss Sullivan that we have Miss Keller's writings and pioneering work for deaf and deafblind people.

This is an incredible book to read and it also provides some interesting cameos of some of the people Miss Keller met (such as Mark Twain) because her letters are included at the end.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have you ever been deaf while Helen Keller has June 7, 2005
A Kid's Review
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Its a miracle!

Helen was deaf, but she learned how to read with her fingers.

When she was younger she got an illness that when it went away it took her sight and hearing with it around 19 she learned how to read Bridal books thanks to her teacher, and my best friend Anna Sulivan that also taught her the combination of water from a pump on one hand and the spelling of "water" in the manuel alphabet into her other hand. I think that she message sent to you would be that its not bad being deaf, your just like a person beside that you cant hear or talk nor see.

Helen Keller wrote this book to show and to tell you about her life.

The quote "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" it means that for Helen Keller she would have took a long time to learn how to read but she had people that helped her all together so they did so much to help her.

I would recommend this book to girls and boys; women and gentleman between the age of 11 to 35. It is really a good book.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A STORY WORTH TELLING November 12, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book in 6th grade. I have read it several times in the intervening years, the most recent time being within the past one year.
Helen Keller, blind and deaf since the age of 1 1/2 has offered, in her own words an accounting of her life experience. It is incredible to imagine how this woman, unable to see or hear can give such a strong voice to descriptions of nature. The book is replete with beautiful, articulate metaphors that draw the reader into the world as Helen knew it. One wonders how a person with no language can "think," and Helen provides some clues. During these "dark days," prior to the arrival of her "Teacher," Annie Sullivan, Helen's life was a series of desires and impressions. She could commnicate by a series of crude signs she and her parents had created. She demonstrated early on that she could learn.
I like the way Helen herself takes her readers past that water pump when she learned that "all things have a name." Instead of getting stuck there, Helen takes her readers on the journey of her life to that point.
In addition to having a good linguistic base, Helen also demonstrates having a phenomenal memory. When she was twelve, she wrote a story she believed to be her own. Entitled "The Frost King," it bore a strong resemblance to one written by a Ms. Canby called "The Frost Fairies." Many of the sentences are identical and a good number of the descriptions are paraphrased. In relating this devasting incident, Helen and Annie recall that Annie had exposed Helen to the story some three years earlier and Helen had somehow retained that information. This plainly shows intelligence.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book but it was somewhat tedious
I enjoyed the book but it was somewhat tedious. Not because the subject wasn't interesting but more because the language and use of wording was from over a century ago. Read more
Published 25 days ago by raizel629
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is amazing!!
I loved this book. It taught me so much about her. I had to read it for school and then do a report on it. So I learned a lot.
Published 1 month ago by M.King
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow read
While the book is interesting, it is not gripping. I found her narratives to be lacking in their description, and much of the novel describes her interactions with people,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leslie A. Jacobs
4.0 out of 5 stars ... read it little by little in between books I like better. An...
I read it little by little in between books I like better. An amazing woman who also had a wonderful support system and opportunities.
Miracle after miracle she progressed.
Published 1 month ago by Alice Joan Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars a woman whose clear disadvantages were outweighed by her native genius...
Helen Keller is my hero, a woman whose clear disadvantages were outweighed by her native genius and her love for life. This is the autobio. she wrote while still in college. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Petunia
5.0 out of 5 stars Let me show you difficult!!
Maybe there are others like me who feel that they will never work through quadratic equations because they feel that they don't have what it takes. Well, Ms. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Anthony Q Biello
5.0 out of 5 stars Helen Keller's auto-biography
It was really great. She was so descriptive with her writing for a blind/deaf woman. I recommend this book for young readers or anyone who likes to read.
Published 5 months ago by TAGGERT MORROW
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
How could you not be inspired by Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, What was accomplished was nothing short of a miracle and gives hope to us all. Read more
Published 5 months ago by pswinn
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of courage and grace of two amazing women.
Amazing story of love, devotion and courage of a young girl who transformed herself to be known all over the world as being the spokesperson for the deaf and blind. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marie Kleps
4.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRING
Very inspiring, inspirational, and challenging.

I would recommend this for all ages.

Handicaps can become stepping stones. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David
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Random House is blocking text-to-speech access on this title
Wow . Random House is beyond belief - I'm surprise they would even issue this, if they are going to block access for the blind.
Jun 27, 2009 by Paxton |  See all 2 posts
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