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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Townsend Library Edition) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2004
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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 the Paperback edition.
Frederick Douglass was born a slave, denied an education, and expected to work like a beast of the fields until the day he died. But Douglass's mind and spirit could not be imprisoned. As he secretly learned to read and write, Douglass looked ahead to the day he could escape the chains of slavery. Once free, he wrote this classic of American literature. It is a story that shocked the world with its first-hand account of the horror of slavery. --From the Publisher
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Narrated by Jonathan Reese
Frederick Douglass wrote three autobiographies during his life. 'Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave', written in 1845, is, perhaps, the most famous. The others were 'My Bondage and My Freedom' (1855) and 'Life and Times of Frederick Douglass' (1881, revised 1892).
Written as a response to those that doubted that such an intelligent and well-spoken man could have ever been a slave, Narrative tells about the early life of Frederick Douglass (b. 1818 - d.1895), how he learned to read and write and how he acquired the skills necessary to escape and prosper in the North after he escaped.
Douglass was a young man when this book was published (aged 27) so there is not a lot of detail about his life as a free man (with the caveat of being an escaped slave living the constant fear of being kidnapped and returned to slavery).
Douglass spends considerable time detailing the degradations and brutalities of slave life - insufficient food, poor clothing, fear of being separated from family and friends. Random brutalities dumped upon the slaves fill the book and create an uncomfortable but necessary look at what was euphemistically called the peculiar institution.
Understandably, the more education Douglass acquires, the more miserable he becomes. Douglass is especially intolerant of Christians who twist Christianity into contortions to justify slavery. His arguments thunder like an Old Testament prophet as he uses Christianity's own arguments, often straight from scripture, to demolish their positions.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is not only an American classic, but is informative and entertainingly told.
My copy of the audiobook came with an embedded e-book that contains the text of the book in PDF format.