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Up from Slavery: An Autobiography (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books) [Kindle Edition]

Booker T. Washington
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Black educator documents his struggle for freedom and self-respect and his fight to establish industrial training programs.

Editorial Reviews Review

Nineteenth-century African American businessman, activist, and educator Booker Taliaferro Washington's Up from Slavery is one of the greatest American autobiographies ever written. Its mantras of black economic empowerment, land ownership, and self-help inspired generations of black leaders, including Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. In rags-to-riches fashion, Washington recounts his ascendance from early life as a mulatto slave in Virginia to a 34-year term as president of the influential, agriculturally based Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. From that position, Washington reigned as the most important leader of his people, with slogans like "cast down your buckets," which emphasized vocational merit rather than the academic and political excellence championed by his contemporary rival W.E.B. Du Bois. Though many considered him too accommodating to segregationists, Washington, as he said in his historic "Atlanta Compromise" speech of 1895, believed that "political agitation alone would not save [the Negro]," and that "property, industry, skill, intelligence, and character" would prove necessary to black Americans' success. The potency of his philosophies are alive today in the nationalist and conservative camps that compose the complex quilt of black American society.


"It remains one of the most important works on such an influential African-American leader."--Professor Delia Crutchfield Cook, University of Maryland, KC

"This book is a must read."--Professor Warren C. Swindell, Indiana State University

"This book is definitely a classic and I have used every year im my African-American history course."--Professor W. Marvin Dulaney, College of Charleston

"Reading 'Up From Slavery' has provided my students with an opportunity to encounter a key figure in African American history on his own terms. It has provided them with greater insight into the mind of this man and his times."--C. Matthew Hawkins, Carlow College

"This is a very useful edition of one of the most important primary sources in African American history. Andrews sets it in context in a first-rate introduction." --Roy E. Finkenbine, Hampton University

Product Details

  • File Size: 354 KB
  • Print Length: 133 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846375819
  • Publisher: Modern Library (June 11, 1999)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1KTS
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,140 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for African Americans November 4, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What is most striking about Washington's autobiographical account of his rise from slavery to revered statesman is his lack of resentment toward white culture. Rather than focus on what whites should do to uplift blacks, Washington encouraged blacks to take individual agency over their lives. He believed the best way for blacks to achieve social parity was to become indispensable members of the communities in which they lived. His absolute confidence in black resilience would probably be regarded as naive in today's political discourse. And yet the long list of his (and all black culture's) achievements during this period are unmistakable and nothing short of inspiring.
It's a shame this book is on the African American Studies shelf. The lessons from Washington's life apply to all humans, not just blacks. This book would be an excellent addition high school reading lists as a model of the values consonant with personal success.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic with relevant lessons for today March 22, 2000
I found this to be a most amazing work. In telling the story of going from a child of slavery to the founder and president of the Tuskegee institute, Mr. Washington illustrates for us the life-lessons which can empower any individual or race in our free society today.
Namely, look to your neighbor in love, not anger; recognize the nobility in working hard for something rather than expecting charity; be willing to give yourself to a greater cause; believe that people are capable of great things and they will live up to your expectations; recognize the importance of education, not just of the mind, but of the body and soul as well; recognize that any man who provides value to the community in which he lives will be accepted and even welcomed into that community; and above all, trust in God to care for your needs.
I highly recommend this book as a testament to the positive result of thinking from a perspective of Love and Abundance rather than Anger and Scarcity. When Mr. Washington's humility is measured against his accomplishments, he becomes in my eyes one of the greatest Americans to have lived.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booker T. Lost, But Who Won? April 12, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Over the years, being aware of the great rivalry between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois I had grown used to Dubois followers saying Booker T. was an accommodationalist Uncle Tom, and other similar statements. I read Up from Slavery as a teenager, and I didn't get that impression from him at the time, so I usually dismissed people's negativity about him as misunderstanding. Having recently re-read the book, it made a far stronger impression on me as an adult and I feel compelled to give my own opinion, especially since the old "accommodationalist Uncle Tom" reviews are also on this site.

The time period after the slaves were freed was known as Reconstruction. The former slaves were both scared as to what the future held and deeply excited to experience this concept of freedom with the fire and enthusiasm of the Newly Born. For the most part they were very ignorant of their past, of how to establish themselves as a thriving community, how to interact with their white neighbors in a way beneficial to all and how to best use their money and time to grow as individuals. The whites were equally scared as to what the future held (change is often scary) but they were also excited for the former slaves and 100% wished them well. Yes, this was also the time period that formed the KKK, but evil racists were always around and thankfully, then as now, are in the minority.

As Booker T. explained, both the owner and the owned had been damaged by the chattel slavery institution. Because the lowest member of society was the slave to whom all menial labor was delegated to, both races saw work/labor as something to be avoided. The whites saw it as something that was beneath them, while the blacks felt they should rise up above it as free men.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars booker t career highlights December 17, 2012
i wanted to read a book written by someone who lived as an american "slave" as well as thru the period of "reconstruction" that WAS america in the late 19th century; i hoped to hear a first hand account of slavery from a person who survived it. i wanted to understand the struggles and joys of a person who lived as a newly emancipated citizen. booker t washington is one such person who was freed from bondage.

what i loved about this book:

*first hand account of the affects of slavery such as: naming himself, not knowing his own birthday and age, no ties to family, no knowledge of lineage of either of his parents, etc.
*THE TRUTH about why he is lauded as one of america's greatest "african americans"
*the early struggles of tuskegee as a university

what i loved less about this book:

* references to ppl, places, organizations, etc. lost to history. google helped, but dang :(
* incessant listing of accomplishments - including how well received booker was by white media and white america - rather than discussion of his relationships with his 3 wives and 3 children

altho this book was written by booker t washington about his own life, i didnt feel as if his autobiography allowed me to learn much about him as a man... as a person.

i am glad it was written as it gives context for an era and a person i can never know about, but this book is more about the chronography of booker t washington's accomplishments rather than who this man was and how he lived.

that being said, i still think every american should read this book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good book, nice job thanks
The book came here on time or early, good book , nice job thanks,,,
Published 3 days ago by conrad lee drummond
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
ok book
Published 10 days ago by bao phan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by DK
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I bought
I was very upset to find that when it started my book it was actually Jerry Garcias life story and not the book I actually bought
Published 1 month ago by Lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking Up
So here it is 100 years after Booker T. Washington's death. Here I am finally reading this classic (I seem to have a procrastination problem with classics) wondering what took me... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JC Davenport
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible and inspirational story of hard work, dedication and...
Booker T. Washington does an excellent job of not only detailing the events of his life, but of laying out his philosophy of life and method of teaching that made his institution a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jennie C. Visscher
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Excellent! It should be part of the educational literary canon across the human race. A powerful testimony about the value of human dignity and respect, and the value of hard work. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good although obviously not light reading. Check out the autobiography of Frederick Douglass.
Published 2 months ago by scintillatingone
4.0 out of 5 stars This was well worth reading. Brooker T's whole approach ...
This was well worth reading. Brooker T's whole approach to racism and the African American made him a statesman and we could use his
type today, that's for sure. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jerry A. Jarc
5.0 out of 5 stars love, and perseverance
A must read. I found this book to be filled with wisdom, love, and perseverance.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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