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Up from Slavery (Signet Classics)

4.6 out of 5 stars 388 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0451527547
ISBN-10: 0451527542
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"This is an excellent book. It addresses a number of issues important to African American history and literature. The introduction is very successful in exposing the tension between the subject of autobiography--the crafted public self--and the far more complex, indeed enigmatic subject of real life. For those interested in the role of the individual in history, this book sheds light on the way Booker T. Washington used his skills of self-representation to amass power and influence in a racist society--his identity imposed forever upon the politics of racial self-help and the history of the New South." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Signet Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451527542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451527547
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (388 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,190,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael P Foley on 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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Let me start off by saying I'm a 16 year old female...
Upon looking through the history section of the store I discovered "Up From Slavery", the autobiography of Booker T. Washington. I could easily recall reading about him in US history. Interested, I decided to buy it.. Well I ended up staying up all night reading this book.
Washington entails his life story of endeavers and prosperity gained. He describes of how he raised himself up from slavery through sacrifices and struggles. With the self-reward of obtaining education he decided to develope the Tuskegee Institution to help further educate his peoples. As well he established a bond between, not only blacks and whites, but southerners and northerners (during post-civil war times). He talks on how as people, one should educate themselves not only in books but in labor as well. In doing so, one will achieve full-on success.
"Up from Slavery" enlightened me so much more on Washington and his role in shaping the free life we as americans, live today. I have gained an enormous amount of respect for this intriguingly compelling man. I really do feel a great sensation of pride in our history when I think about Washington and his achievements for this nation. Beautiful.
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Format: Paperback
Everyone should read "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington. Washington was one of the most outstanding people in our history. If he lived today he probably would become President and be one of our greatest Presidents. He had an iron will to achieve his goals in life and to do something to help his people. He started in life in slavery, born to a single mother. Later on he was abused and exploted by his step-father. He overcame tremendous hardships to get an education. He then dedicated his life to helping other African-Americans to improve their lives. He is often criticized for compromising too much with the white establishment. I think however that people need to understand the difficulties of his time and also his way of trying to change people indirectly rather than through direct confrontation. "Up From Slavery" is a great example of this. It is also fun to read. I have a personal reason for liking Washington. In World War II my father was in the Air Corps. For some time the bomber he flew in was protected by the famous Tuskeegee Airmen who were trained at Tuskeegee Institute, founded by Washington. The Tuskeegee Airmen never lost a plane that they escorted. So you see, if it hadn't been for Booker T. Washington I might not be here.
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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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