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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Roughcut) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 16, 2018

4.8 out of 5 stars 1,948 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of October 2018:: There are many biographies of Frederick Douglass, but there has not been a major one written in nearly twenty five years. David W. Blight’s new book is a valuable contribution to the understanding of Douglass as both a man and as a historical figure, utilizing papers that had not previously been available. Although direct in his message, Douglass, like many great men, was a person of contradictions. Blight explores those contradictions, painting Douglass as a complete human being, even as he lays out the clear argument for his greatness. This thorough and highly readable biography traces Douglass’s entire life, starting on a plantation in Maryland, covering his education and eventual escape, his two marriages, his complicated relationship with his family, and his work as an abolitionist and orator. In the end, the reader will walk away with a deeper grasp of a still deeply misunderstood chapter of American history, as well as understanding, respect, and admiration for one of the county’s greatest figures. --Chris Schluep, for the Amazon Book Review

Review

“Cinematic and deeply engaging. . . . a tour de force of storytelling.” -- Brent Staples ― The New York Times Book Review

"Absorbing and even moving . . . Mr. Blight displays his lifelong interest in Douglass on almost every page, and his own voice is active and eloquent throughout the narrative. It is a book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass’s. . . . A brilliant book.” -- John Stauffer ― The Wall Street Journal

“The first major biography of Douglass in nearly three decades. . . . Blight isn’t looking to overturn our understanding of Douglass, whose courage and achievements were unequivocal, but to complicate it — a measure by which this ambitious and empathetic biography resoundingly succeeds.” -- Jennifer Szalai ― The New York Times

“Extraordinary. . . . Blight has certainly written, in the book’s texture and density and narrative flow—one violent and provocative incident arriving right after another—a great American biography." -- Adam Gopnik ― The New Yorker

“A consistently engrossing book that is likely to remain the definitive account of Douglass’s life for many years to come.” -- Eric Foner ― The Nation

“A stunning achievement.  Blight captures an icon in full humanity.  From riveting drama in slavery and Civil War, his Douglass rises into clairvoyant genius on the blinkered centrality of race in our struggle for freedom.” -- Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of America in the King Years

“Extraordinary. . . . In Blight’s pages, [Douglass’s] voice again rings out loud and clear, melancholy and triumphant — still prophesying, still agitating, still calling us to action.” -- Adam Goodheart ― The Washington Post

“David Blight has written the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass. With extraordinary detail he illuminates the complexities of Douglass’s life and career and paints a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the 19th century. . . . The resulting chronicle enriches our understanding of Douglass and the challenges he faced and offers a lesson for our own troubled times. . . . Magisterial.” -- Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. ― The Boston Globe

“David Blight’s incandescent Frederick Douglass is a monumental achievement of biographical empathy, historical context, and grim comprehensiveness, a much-awaited masterpiece of a life that emblematized  slavery as the problem of the 19th century, as was race that of Du Bois’s 20th,  the legacy of both the problem of our 21st century.” -- David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W.E.B. Du Bois: The Biography of a Race, 1868-1919

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom is a triumph—elegantly written, with much new material about one of the most famous and important men in modern history. David Blight has created a vibrant and convincing portrait of a towering figure who was also, Blight says, ‘thoroughly and beautifully human.’ A great American gets the stellar biography he deserves from one our country’s greatest historians.” -- Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

“This much-anticipated biography of the foremost black leader and one of the greatest Americans of the nineteenth century fully lives up to and even exceeds high expectations.  It is a work not only of stunning scholarship but also of literary artistry.  David Blight’s—and Frederick Douglass’s—achievements have immeasurably enriched our understanding of slavery, abolitionism, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.” -- James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

“Brilliant and compassionate. . . . Blight’s Douglass is an unapologetic prophet and radical, and the eloquent voice of this ‘sacred extremist’ has never been more relevant. A must-read.” ― Booklist (starred review)

“Superbly written. . . . Blight viscerally captures the vitality, strength, and determination of his subject. . . . [He] delivers what is sure to be considered the standard-bearer for years to come. A masterful, comprehensive biography.” ― Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A masterful, comprehensive biography such as Mr. Blight’s is particularly welcome in times such as these, when politicians such as the president are gleefully stoking the same racial divisions that Mr. Douglass spent his life trying to extinguish.”

  -- Greg Barnhisel ― The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"David W. Blight brilliantly captures this legendary figure and his times in the magnificent Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, one of the best biographies of recent years. Blight’s portrait of Douglass is engrossing, moving, nuanced, frightening—and certainly thought-provoking." ― BookPage

“David Blight brilliantly illustrates both the perils and possibilities of our national history through a rich and humane portrait of a man and his times.  This is a remarkable book about a remarkable American and his enduring impact.”  -- Drew Gilpin Faust, former president, Harvard University, and author of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

"No American of his generation did more than Douglass, both in word and deed, to propel his people, and the nation, toward a reckoning with its original sin.  Now he is brought vividly and delightfully to life once more in the flesh and bones of this masterful biography by one of our greatest historians.  Frederick Douglass:  Prophet of Freedom is a monumental achievement, a must-read for anyone charting the history of a democracy when it is most severely under attack.” -- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“Meticulously detailed. . . . . The Douglass who emerges from this massive work is not always heroic, or even likable, but Blight illuminates his personal struggles and achievements to emphasize what an extraordinary person he was."  ― Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A monumental book, a definitive biography, rich with the biblical cadences that filled Douglass’ life and imagination.” -- John S. Gardner ― The Guardian

“Blight's opus manages to be both a celebration of a remarkable life and a sober reminder of the many ways in which our terrible times are shaped by those Douglass lived through. In so many ways, the central questions then are the central questions now.” -- Terence Samuel ― NPR.org

“This magnum opus surpasses previous singular biographies . . . an essential text for students and educators seeking to understand Douglass's complex and expansive narrative.” ― Library Journal (starred review)

“With the lucid prose and in-depth research that have been a hallmark of his long and distinguished career, Blight has written the definitive biography of one of the great reformers in American history.  Blight beautifully treats Douglass’ public career and complex private life, creating a detailed tapestry that allows readers to see the inner Douglass.”

  -- Erik Chaput ― The Providence Journal

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Product details

  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (October 16, 2018)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 912 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1416590315
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1416590316
  • Item Weight : 2.89 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.8 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 1,948 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
1,948 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

David Webster
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening on black history and the power of prophetic preaching and action.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 21, 2020
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Mary Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars A great man receives the biography he deserves
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2019
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Steven Lovett
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2020
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Ali Mustapha
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!!
Reviewed in Canada on December 19, 2019
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Seann Haver
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story!
Reviewed in Canada on March 9, 2020
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