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Showing 1-10 of 1,840 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,276 reviews
on July 12, 2016
This autobiography was assigned to me when I was a junior in high school. Three years later, as a sophomore in college, I was asked to read the book again for my class on Black Thought and Literature. I wish that I had taken the time to slow down and analyze Frederick Douglass' narrative from a literal, analytical, and figurative perspective. Had I done that the first time around—as opposed to treating the book as another required reading that I needed to speed-read through—I believe that my understanding would have been more in-depth and meaningful. The emotion and conviction with which the author writes is not only poetic and moving, but captivating as well. The imagery, combined with Douglass' views on religion's role in the enslavement of black bodies, masterfully paints a story that (in combination with other narratives) has, unfortunately, been lost throughout time. In fact, many Black writers during this period refused to publish their experiences for fear that they will be caught and returned to slavery. In other cases, some writers used pen names to add some anonymity to their experiences. Nevertheless, such works should be cherished and valued; for they allow us to gain a better understanding of how far our society has come, and how much more needs to be done to ensure a future where everyone is equal (in the truest sense of the word).
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on September 4, 2017
This should be required reading for American history classes. Whereas the steady diet of slaveholder cruelty is burdensome at times, it must be endured because that is merely the truth. Douglass makes the intriguing observation that the institution of slavery turns humans into slaveholders with the attendant qualities of cruelty and blindness to their religious hypocrisy.
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on September 12, 2017
This book should be required reading for every American. It is the true first-person account of a slave woman who lived in the mid-nineteenth century South I have never read anything that so thoroughly embedded me in the culture of the time. The effects of this terrible stain on our national history are still being felt today.
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on January 29, 2012
I read 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl' by Harriet Jacobs, on my Kindle. This book should be required reading for everyone. Most of us in this day and age do not realize the horrible life that most slaves experienced in the South. Tortured, raped, starved, worked almost to death; these were part of daily life for many. A slave-owner had complete mastery over his/her slaves, who were considered not humans, but possessions equal to domestic animals. Even though some slaves had very good masters, their lives could change in an instant in the case of an owner's death or bankruptcy. Every aspect of the slave's life was controlled by even the benevolent owner since slaves were considered not intelligent enough to direct their own lives.
Escape to the North was a harrowing ordeal. Slaves who were captured paid for their folly with the worst torture imaginable, and almost certainly their lives. Later on, some northern states passed the fugitive slave law, which provided for the capture and return of any slave found there. After that, even the fabled North was not safe.
Harriet Jacobs' story of her own life as a slave, including five years spent in a cramped attic space eluding her master, would be hardly believable if it weren't vouched for by others. Her intelligence, courage, strengh and endurance are absolutely extraordinary. I loved this book and learned much from it. Although it is hard to read because of the callousness of the white owners, I felt it was very worthwhile.
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on February 17, 2012
Depending on when you went to school, your perspective of slavery in the United States varied. When I was growing up, slavery was taught as the horrible institution it was or in terms of economics. The perspective of this book is that of the impact of slavery, not only to the slave, but to the owners as well.

I found the writer to eloquently explain her experiences as well as her perception of the things happening around her. As a native born US citizen and someone who watched "Roots" as a child, I knew about the horrors that happened as well as the need to be free. This book let you see, first hand, what it took to be free.

The most profound item of this book to me related to the writer's ability to recognize that slavery not only negatively impacted the slave, but the owners as well. I never really thought about that. But, when one considers the behaviors that are still found in parts of this country, it is obvious that slavery negatively impacted the citizenry both slave and free regardless of skin color. To have a slave actually see this in spite of her circumstances is eye opening.

In closing, I recommend this book if you are looking at a different perspective on slavery in the US. The writer does not take you down a road of details so graphic you cringe, but lets you know what the times were like in a frank and open manner.
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on May 3, 2012
In this day and age, everyone knows that slavery is bad. But I didn't truly appreciate just how bad it was in this country until I read this little unassuming book. Written from the perspective of a black female to an audience of white females in hopes of eliciting their sympathy towards the abolitionist cause, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl tells the life of Harriet Jacobs, her enslavement, and her fierce determination to orchestrate her children's freedom as well as her own. The autobiographical piece was published in 1861 under the pen name of Linda Brent.

Jacobs's words spoke to my heart particularly because I could relate to her as a girl, as a daughter, as a woman, and as a mother. Through her words, slavery was no longer an abstract concept in a history textbook; it became so very real. In one part of the book, she wrote, "Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women." While I don't want to discount the suffering of men, that statement resonated with me as I read it. I don't know the suffering of men nor do I pretend to know it, so perhaps it is unfair to compare. But I can identify and relate to the suffering of women. My heart was wrenched in unimaginable ways. I have never read or heard of anything else so abhorrent. By the end of the first chapter, I was in tears, and that was the chapter about her happy childhood.

I never before realized the extent of the human injustices committed under the institution of slavery. And now after reading this book, I feel enlightened -- a little more educated and a little less ignorant. In some ways, I feel that this book is a must read for every American just for basic historical knowledge, but in particular, I think it should be read by women. It's a hard book to digest for all of its pain and suffering, but I think it's an important chapter of our nation's history that should not be neglected.
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on August 11, 2014
Viewed an informative PBS documentary, "Slavery in America". The author's story was given a short but intriguing segment. I needed to know more! The Public Library did not have a copy on shelf but Amazon was my faithful second choice. No surprise, Amazon had it!!! This factual narrative/memoir of a slave's account from the eyes of a slave women was heart wrenching,  unimaginable,  infuriating,  joyous and should be required reading. This country's history for all it's proclaim of life, liberty, happiness & economic prosperity was built and sustained on the sweat, degradation, humiliation, sadistically inhumane treatment of the African American people. And that was after/during the continued genocide of the Native Indian. This account, without unnecessary embellishment, describes this woman and other people of color's tortured lives unfortunately defended by the very abhorrent people who call themselves Christians. Her first hand insight and experience barely lit a flicker of light in an unending tunnel for her dignity, family & freedom. Next is "The Life of Olaudah Equiano". Wouldn't you know, Amazon has that also!
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on November 5, 2013
Let's face it. Most of the history I read is written by white people. Some things need to be read in the "first person" and this is one of them. Not only is it a landmark book (not just for it's time but for all time), it is still easy to read, believable, compassionate to all (including slave owners) and completely gripping. It is not too brutally descriptive to be disturbing to any older kids or teens I know, and it is a patient, instructive and compelling story that I believe could still be a powerful, memorable and life changing read for anyone.

Personal Note:

I went to Maryland public schools in the 70's and early 80's. This was not on my required reading list. I wish it had been, but then maybe I would have hated it. The story of Frederick Douglas is to me overwhelming. The indictment of Southern Christianity is also particularly grievous. I do feel like I'm beginning to get a sense of the longtime North - South cultural divide as a matter of regional . . . religious . . . and economic ... pride.

Misc Notes:

1. Brer Rabbit - in the intro to my book - Robert O'Meally mentions Brer Rabbit and Disney's now banned (and well censored) in the USA "Song Of The South" movie (think "Zip-A-De-Do-Da") - I don't have any wisdom on this but Brer Rabbit is a vaguely forbidden character in our country, as is Bugs Bunny, who the writer indentifies as a modern day Brer Rabbit. I always liked Bugs Bunny, but you don't see these cartoons around. I have an older African American friend who asked me if I could find a copy of "Song of the South" which he had fond memories of watching in the movie theater as a kid. Well I couldn't . . .

2. In my appendix, there is mention of pro slavery arguements of the 1840's. One is to the effect of "Slavery itself doesn't hurt slaves . . . its the abuse of slavery by slaveholders that hurts slaves." Hmmm, that sounds familiar . . .
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on May 27, 2014
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass serves as a mind-opener to the atrocities of slavery written by one who, as a former slave, experienced them firsthand. This contemporary account casts light on the realities of brutal plantation life, a subject that has been routinely sugar-coated in print and on the big screen. As such, it should be required reading for all.
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on September 14, 2015
At the age of 78 yrs old, I just found out about the Narrative this past 4th of July! I was raised in the South and attended all Black schools through high school and this book was never mentioned by any of my teachers. I took American History classes during my college years and the Narrative was not even on any of the reading lists, and most certainly was not required reading! My son attended all Black schools, including college, and he was a History Major and he had not heard of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I have purchased over twenty books of The Narrative and sent them to all of my children, grand children, and great grand children, with a special note from me written on the inside cover on the importance of this book to our Black collective History!
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