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Frederick Douglass
     

Frederick Douglass

by William S. McFeely
 

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“A detailed, finely written portrait of the imposing 19th-century leader.” —David Levering Lewis, New York Times Book Review
Born into but escaped from slavery, Frederick Douglass—orator, journalist, autobiographer; revolutionary on behalf of a just America—was a towering figure, at once consummately charismatic and flawed. His

Overview

“A detailed, finely written portrait of the imposing 19th-century leader.” —David Levering Lewis, New York Times Book Review
Born into but escaped from slavery, Frederick Douglass—orator, journalist, autobiographer; revolutionary on behalf of a just America—was a towering figure, at once consummately charismatic and flawed. His Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) galvanized the antislavery movement and is one of the truly seminal works of African-American literature. In this Lincoln Prize– winning biography, William S. McFeely captures the many sides of Douglass— his boyhood on the Chesapeake; his self-education; his rebellion and rising expectations; his marriage, affairs, and intense friendships; his bitter defeat and transcendent courage—and re-creates the high drama of a turbulent era.

Editorial Reviews

New York Newsday
“A masterpiece….[W]ill rightfully assume its place as the standard biography of a truly great figure in the nation’s past.”
Nell Irvin Painter - Boston Globe
“Absolutely nonpareil. . . . This biography—tender and critical, respectful yet observant—presents a character of Frederick Douglass that is more thoroughly human than seemed possible in careful scholarship.”
Financial Times
“Stunning. . . . This illuminating portrait dispenses with the myths.”
Ishmael Reed - Los Angeles Times
“Compelling. . . . Suggests that the Age of Douglass was this nation’s greatest epoch. . . . What a time. What a book.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A runaway slave at 20, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) won worldwide renown as a spokesman for the abolitionist cause, edited an influential antislavery weekly and helped organize black regiments during the Civil War. After the Emancipation Proclamation he aggressively championed full citizenship for his fellow black Americans. In this unhurried and beautifully crafted biography, the author presents the known facts of Douglass's stormy life and reveals the man behind the icon: his complex and ambiguous friendships with William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown and other figures of the day; his gossip-stirring relationships with several dynamic white women; his controversial tenure as U.S. minister to Haiti near the end of his life. McFeely analyzes Douglass's autobiographical writings, probing insightfully into the complicated psyche of this heroic figure. The biography is a major work of scholarship that brings into vivid focus the nature of slave culture and racial prejudice in 19th-century America. McFeely, a history professor at the University of Georgia, won a Pulitizer Prize for Grant: A Biography. Photos. BOMC, History Book Club and QPB selections. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
YA-- This excellent biography fluently tells the life story of Douglass, one of the 19th century's most famous writers and speakers on abolitionist and human rights causes. It traces his life from his birth as a slave in Maryland, through his self-education, escape to freedom, and subsequent lionization as a renowned orator in England and the United States. Readers familiar with his life will be grateful for the little-known information about his family, and a general audience will enjoy the well-rounded, literate stories of Douglass's contemporaries. Fascinating, too, are accounts of the era's politics, such as the racist views held by some abolitionist leaders and the ways in which many policies made in post-Civil War times have worked to the detriment of today's civil rights movement. The chapter on Frederick Douglass and John Brown is, in itself, interesting enough to commend this powerful biography. The seldom-seen photographs, the careful chapter notes, documentation, and acknowledgements will encourage YAs to become not only dedicated Douglass historians but also avid William McFeely fans.-- Isabelle Bligh, Edison High School, Alexandria, VA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393354423
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/13/2017
Pages:
560
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

William S. McFeely is Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia. He is the author of Yankee Stepfather: General O. O. Howard and the Freedmen; Grant: A Biography, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Parkman Prize; Frederick Douglass, which received the Lincoln Prize; Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk into Freedom; and Proximity to Death.