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Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave (original 1845; edition 2003)

by Frederick Douglass, Robert G. O'Meally

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5,47682792 (3.95)113
Member:webaugur
Title:Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave
Authors:Frederick Douglass
Other authors:Robert G. O'Meally
Info:New York : Barnes & Noble Classics, c2003.
Collections:Home Library, Your library
Rating:
Tags:American Literature

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (1845)

  1. 10
    Autobiography of Josiah Henson: An Inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom by Josiah Henson (HistReader)
    HistReader: Both men discuss their treatment and lifestyle under subjection as slaves.
  2. 00
    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African by Olaudah Equiano (joririchardson)
  3. 01
    To Be a Slave by Julius Lester (jacqueline065)
    jacqueline065: If your enjoyed the poignant narrative of Frederick Douglass, you will be moved by the perserved accounts of slave life in this book.
  4. 01
    The Mind of Frederick Douglass by Waldo E. Jr. Martin (eromsted)
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Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
In honor of Black History Month, I've been trying to read primarily black authors. I finished Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave and Other Writings (the Fall River Press edition). Douglass gives us an unvarnished account of life under slavery, demolishing one by one contemporary excuses and apologies such as "the slaves were well-cared for because they were valuable property" or "the inferior negro race needed whites to guide them and save their heathen souls." He recounts a story of a slave sold south because he answered honestly when asked if his master treated him well. Douglass says, "The slaveholders have been known to send in spies among their slaves, to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition. The frequency of this has had the effect to establish among the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue makes a wise head...I have been frequently asked, when a slave, if I had a kind master, and do not remember ever to have given a negative answer..." He addresses not only the horrific physical abuses of slavery, but writes with poignancy about the moral and spiritual decay that slavery brings to slave holders. This is a classic of American literature and rebuke to all folks who insist that the Civil War was fought over "heritage."

This edition included several essays and presentations by Douglass including a detailed account of his escape from slavery which he didn't include in his initial "Narrative" because those that helped were still living in slave states and might be punished. I particularly liked his "Oration Delivered on the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument (In Memory of Abraham Lincoln, in Lincoln Park Washington, D.C, April 14, 1878)" which reminded his black audience that in spite of "the exalted character and great works of Abraham Lincoln, the first martyr President of the United States...He was preeminently the white man's President...ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote the welfare of the white people of this country. In all his education and feeling he was an American of the Americans. He came into the Presidential chair upon one principle alone namely the opposition to the extension of slavery." It's an interesting (and by all accounts accurate) take by a contemporary of Lincoln. The words made me flinch, even though I've read several modern biographies which support Douglass' conclusions. Lincoln was a remarkable man, but he was a man of his times. It's good to put history in perspective.

A number of the essays become a bit repetitious in tone and content, which is to be expected. In my opinion, the major weakness of the volume is the inclusion of a modern introduction to the book which only summarized the "Narrative"--why bother?--Douglass did a great job of telling his own story. The Preface included two letters by contemporary white abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips which now feel condescending, but at the time must have been necessary to assure (white) readers that this narrative was true and the author worth listening to. In the end, I was glad for the extra material and would recommend finding an edition that includes the "Other Writings." ( )
  MarysGirl | Mar 11, 2017 |
Utterly essential reading for Americans who soon forget that not long ago, men and women like Douglass were kept in human bondage and seen as mere property, with no rights to speak of, left at the mercy of their masters, and all because of the color of their skin. Douglass' account is a haunting detailed personal account of one of - if not the - darkest era in United States history. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
As a white Canadian, I think I have a not very admirable tendency to abstract the hell out of American slavery--to make it about the revolting idea of people owning other people (which it is) and then somehow less about what that meant: the sheer incomprehensible mass of abuses, from the daily sneer to the atrocities of casual, consequenceless rape and murder. Frederick Douglass is the antidote to that, one of the great testifiers to slavery's evil, and a hell of a man. This one's good to read (as a white North American person) any time you start to get tired of bringing to your relations with race, and with race relations, and with your friends and neighbours of other races all your gathered sincerity and humility and care. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Jan 10, 2017 |
Frederick Douglass wrote this narrative shortly after his escape from bondage and, as such, it focuses primarily on his life as a slave without much detail on the means by which he effected his escape as such information could put those who helped him in danger. The volume includes a preface from William Lloyd Garrison that outlines the abolitionist goals of the narrative. Douglass' longest chapter details the brutality of slavery, from beatings and whippings to the manner in which slaveholders bred their slaves. Douglass' narrative was first and foremost an abolition narrative with a stated goal. He concludes that he wrote "sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds" (76). While that does not discount the accuracy of what he wrote, readers should read this volume in the context in which Douglass wrote in order to better appreciate the argument he was making for abolition. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Nov 24, 2016 |
This book is a memoir of his journey through slavery.
  ashermak | Oct 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
In honor of Black History Month, I've been trying to read primarily black authors. I finished Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave and Other Writings (the Fall River Press edition). Douglass gives us an unvarnished account of life under slavery, demolishing one by one contemporary excuses and apologies such as "the slaves were well-cared for because they were valuable property" or "the inferior negro race needed whites to guide them and save their heathen souls." He recounts a story of a slave sold south because he answered honestly when asked if his master treated him well. Douglass says, "The slaveholders have been known to send in spies among their slaves, to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition. The frequency of this has had the effect to establish among the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue makes a wise head...I have been frequently asked, when a slave, if I had a kind master, and do not remember ever to have given a negative answer..." He addresses not only the horrific physical abuses of slavery, but writes with poignancy about the moral and spiritual decay that slavery brings to slave holders. This is a classic of American literature and rebuke to all folks who insist that the Civil War was fought over "heritage."

This edition included several essays and presentations by Douglass including a detailed account of his escape from slavery which he didn't include in his initial "Narrative" because those that helped were still living in slave states and might be punished. I particularly liked his "Oration Delivered on the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument (In Memory of Abraham Lincoln, in Lincoln Park Washington, D.C, April 14, 1878)" which reminded his black audience that in spite of "the exalted character and great works of Abraham Lincoln, the first martyr President of the United States...He was preeminently the white man's President...ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote the welfare of the white people of this country. In all his education and feeling he was an American of the Americans. He came into the Presidential chair upon one principle alone namely the opposition to the extension of slavery." It's an interesting (and by all accounts accurate) take by a contemporary of Lincoln. The words made me flinch, even though I've read several modern biographies which support Douglass' conclusions. Lincoln was a remarkable man, but he was a man of his times. It's good to put history in perspective.

A number of the essays become a bit repetitious in tone and content, which is to be expected. In my opinion, the major weakness of the volume is the inclusion of a modern introduction to the book which only summarized the "Narrative"--why bother?--Douglass did a great job of telling his own story. The Preface included two letters by contemporary white abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips which now feel condescending, but at the time must have been necessary to assure (white) readers that this narrative was true and the author worth listening to. In the end, I was glad for the extra material and would recommend finding an edition that includes the "Other Writings."
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederick Douglassprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blight, David W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gomes, Peter J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot country, Maryland.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486284999, Paperback)

The impassioned abolitionist and eloquent orator provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom. Published in 1845 to quell doubts about his origins, the Narrative is admired today for its extraordinary passion, sensitive descriptions, and storytelling power. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:43 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Perhaps the most powerful and influential black American of his time, Frederick Douglass, cmbodied the tumultuous social changes that transfored the united States during the nineteenth century. In a career of unprecedented breadth, Douglass rose from the oppression of his slave's birth to fame for Abolitionist.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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