Customer Reviews for

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2008

    Best book I've read for a very long time

    As the nation's preeminent scholar of interracial friendship, John Stauffer turns in Giants from his previous prize-winning work on abolitionist friends to offer the first collective biography of the two preeminent self-made men in American history: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. That previous book, The Black Hearts of Men, was a hard act to follow but Stauffer goes even further here in Giants. Vivid, insightful, exceptionally well-researched and beautifully written, Giants restores to both mythic figures their complexity, ambiguity, and humanity, giving us an entirely fresh vision of two individuals who transformed themselves before they could transform society. Just as exciting, though, is the parallel narrative of national identity. As Stauffer reflects one giant off the other, we see in their intersecting lives a national journey toward the Second Revolution of the 1860s. This braided story of Lincoln and Douglass, one of change and self-making, alliance and conflict, faith and loss, is the nation¿s own story of bonds and betrayals during the nineteenth century. In fact, while other books might focus on Douglass and Lincoln's politics during the Civil War, only Stauffer examines the bigger picture: the ways they made and remade themselves and the nation their lives, loves, friendships, and the whole nature of love and friendship in the Civil War era. He weaves together themes of historical memory, race, gender, loyalty and forgiveness, empathy, outsiders, and the boundaries of the personal and political. The book therefore gives us a deeper, fuller picture of both men's lives and characters, and also a window on a whole era. This is history and biography written in glorious techicolor: set against Douglass, Lincoln comes alive anew - and vice versa - but so too does the intense drama of the time. And that history is a living drama: as we approach the potential election of Barack Obama, a man who is said to transcend race but might finally replace Lincoln 'and Clinton' as the nation's first 'black president,' has publicly grappled with the changing nature of his own friendships, and acknowledges the political and personal inspiration of both Douglass and Lincoln, we might find in Stauffer's dazzling page-turner a framework for understanding the story of Obama and ourselves in 2008. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Titans: Tandem Portraits Illuminate Each Other

    The author succeeds not only in delineating two lives that parallel each other in unexpected ways; Stauffer fulfills his exploration of interracial friendship with an exemplum that gives hope that such a thing is not only possible but worth striving for.

    More than a literary device, the juxtaposition of Lincoln and Douglass affords a unique perspective on a seminal period in American history, depicting the worlds of whites (abolitionists and slave owners) and blacks (freemen and slaves) and the intractable dilemma that plagued this young nation. Stauffer fleshes out his narrative with colorful detail and vivid episodes. He has focused his material to a length and complexity that is manageable for the average reader while satisfying to the scholar (more than a hundred pages of notes and references).

    Professor Stauffer reveals how Lincoln's father drafted him into bondage by renting him out to plow and harvest fields and split rails, appropriating his son's wages for himself. He quotes Lincoln as feeling little different from black boys: "we were all slaves one time or another." His youth in the rough and tumble of the backwoods -- where men boasted about disfiguring each other in bloody bouts -- gave him visceral knowledge of a culture of violence. These early experiences linked him to blacks in general and Douglass in particular, who suffered such severe beatings at the hands of slave masters that he could dramatize his famous speeches by exposing his back full of scars.

    Never an abolitionist, Lincoln's objective as president was to preserve the Union. Stauffer depicts Lincoln as a practical politician, attempting to conciliate and thereby drawing fire from both sides. He received Douglass at the White House where the two established a mutual personal respect; this did not stop the black abolitionist from using his megaphone to attack Lincoln's early policies.

    In the end these two extraordinary men did find ways to join forces for the benefit of both the Union and for blacks. Stauffer's diptych is an appreciation of each of these "Giants," profiling them, in their common ground and their differences, with style.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Gaint of A Book

    I am a sixty-six year old African American male, I have been reading about Lincoln and Douglass all of my life. Gaints is the best book I ever read on Lincoln or Douglass. Should be required reading for American History Studies.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Really, Really, Awesomely Good

    One of the best books I have read in a very long time. The author does a very decent job of looking at some interesting parallels and differences between these two figures. His writing style is fast paced and well developed which makes for easy reading and a lot to think about in the moments between picking up the book and putting it down.<BR/>The book is well organized and will leave the reader wanting to know even more about these two very interesing men. As a high school history teacher, I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2008

    ┬┐Easy to Read┬┐

    Written by: John Stauffer<BR/>Published by: Twelve<BR/>Reviewed by: Stephanie Rollins for ReviewYourBook.com 12/2008<BR/>ISBN: 978-0-446-58009-0<BR/>¿Easy to Read¿ 4 stars<BR/>I do not like history books. My mind usually shuts off when a book takes a historical turn. This book actually held my attention. It reads like a novel. <BR/>Both Lincoln and Douglass were self-made and self-taught. It is mentioned in this book that Douglass raised himself from slavery. Douglass raised himself from white trash. The parallels only start there. Even those who do not like history will love this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    A Gripping and Enlightening Account

    I find myself inspired by the lives of these two giants. The author does a magnificent job of hiding any political or socioeconomic biases he may hold (for the most part) and offers a candid and intimate telling of the parralel lives of these two giants. The book is full of lessons for those of us who continue to ne interested in racial reconciliation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Interesting read

    This book is written like an essay. It's a great read for students doing research on either Lincoln or Douglass, or their relationship. I learned so much about how they felt about each other, and how they each dealt with slavery and racism in America at the time. You will learn a lot. It's very well researched with extensive notes and bibliography.

    I gave it four stars because it was a little boring to read at times due to the style in which it was written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Artz

    Sure he can come. I live at chiron res 6. I will meet you there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Otis

    Hey bro. Lets go to Swan Lake on Ice. Come he. He then beought his bro to the show.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    This book is a very interesting read. Two people who seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum with such strong similarities.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    Highly recommend

    Interesting account of two life's and each individuals response to adversity. The response to challenges and their ability to recognize them as opportunities. How their respective life's were lived and woven together. Two simple men, not chasing greatness, just seeking something better. Never quitting even when sorely tempted but both accepting their doubts and overcoming their fear. Two life's that are a testament to mans ability to overcome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Definitely worth the read.

    This book is highly enjoyable and sheds light on the relationship between two of the most influential men in American history and their incredible rise to prominence. The author's style is pleasing and leaves you with a need to learn to more about both Douglass and Lincoln.

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    Posted September 12, 2010

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    Posted November 13, 2010

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    Posted July 23, 2011

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    Posted February 27, 2012

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    Posted April 10, 2010

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