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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave
     

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave

3.9 37
by Frederick Douglass
 

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In 1845, just seven years after his escape from slavery, the young Frederick Douglass published this powerful account of his life in bondage and his triumph over oppression. The book, which marked the beginning of Douglass's career as an impassioned writer, journalist, and orator for the abolitionist cause, reveals the terrors he faced as a slave, the brutalities of

Overview

In 1845, just seven years after his escape from slavery, the young Frederick Douglass published this powerful account of his life in bondage and his triumph over oppression. The book, which marked the beginning of Douglass's career as an impassioned writer, journalist, and orator for the abolitionist cause, reveals the terrors he faced as a slave, the brutalities of his owners and overseers, and his harrowing escape to the North. It has become a classic of American autobiography.

This edition of the book, based on the authoritative text that appears in Yale University Press's multivolume edition of the Frederick Douglass Papers, is the only edition of Douglass's Narrative designated as an Approved Text by the Modern Language Association's Committee on Scholarly Editions. It includes a chronology of Douglass's life, a thorough introduction by the eminent Douglass scholar John Blassingame, historical notes, and reader responses to the first edition of 1845

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
A century and a half after its first publication, Frederick Douglass's Narrative retains its hold on us, capturing us with its first-person story of the abolitionist's passage from bondage to freedom.
Sacred Life

When it was first published, many critics doubted that The Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass had even been written by Frederick Douglass. As odd as it may seem now, that criticism was not completely unfounded: In the mid-nineteenth century, the antislavery movement produced hundreds of slave narratives, many of them ghostwritten by white abolitionists and tailored to create sympathy for their movement. But this book, by this remarkable man, was different. The tag line at the end of the book's subtitle—Written by Himself —was vitally important. Although clearly written with the abolitionist cause in mind, this book is not merely a political tract. True, its dispassionate prose brought to light the "injustice, exposure to outrage, and savage barbarity" of slavery as Douglass observed and experienced But also brought to life an uncommon man and the particular concerns seared into him during his experience of bondage. Douglass recounts that during slavery, he and his people were denied life's fundamentals: faith, family, education, the capacity for bold action, a sense of community, and personal identity. Douglass saw reclamation of these things as the key to his and his people's survival, redemption, and salvation.

The autobiography opens with a description of the aspects of his own life that Douglass was never allowed to know: the identity of his father, the warmth and care of his mother (who was a stranger to him), and even the fact of his own date of birth. As a child, he suffered from and observed savage beatings firsthand, including the fierce beating of his Aunt Hester at the hands of their master, Captain Aaron Anthony. As he grew older, Douglass liberated himself in stages: mentally, spiritually, and, eventually, physically. His mental freedom began when he was taught to read and write and realized the power of literacy; his spiritual freedom came when he discovered the grace of Christianity and the will to resist his beatings; his physical freedom arrived when he finally escaped to the North.

After escaping, Douglass was committed to telling the world about the condition of the brothers and sisters he left behind. Aside from telling Douglass's personal story, his autobiography takes us to the fields and the cabins and the lives of many slaves to reveal the real human cost of slavery. Douglass focused on the dehumanizing aspects of slavery: not just the beatings, but the parting of children from their mothers, the denial of education, and the sexual abuses of slave masters. He ends the book with this statement: "Sincerely and earnestly hoping that his 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—faithfully relying upon the power of truth, love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts—and solemnly pledging myself anew to the sacred cause, I subscribe myself, Frederick Douglass."

The book was an incredible success: It sold over thirty thousand copies and was an international bestseller. It was the first, and most successful, of three autobiographies that Douglass was to write. The other two, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, update the story of his life and revise some of the facts of his earlier autobiography.

Library Journal
Opening with the sound of running water and a bang, this audiobook is a true story of slavery. Throughout the narrative, future abolitionist Douglass expresses his yearning to be free and his loathing of being trapped into a life of slavery. Through the kindness of one of his mistresses, Douglass learned to read and write. He maintained that being literate through constant learning-either from traditional methods or through life experience-would eventually lead him to freedom. Douglass observed that his fellow slaves were capable of tender love, which unified them in their struggles. Douglass eventually acquired his freedom and acknowledged the love shared among slaves that helped him endure. No one will ever deny the skill with which Douglass analyzes this period in history. His intelligence, astuteness, and determination will inspire anyone to pursue his/her dreams despite obstacles and setbacks. Narrator Pete Papageorge's voice is clear, with the necessary intonations and exclamations; he aptly expresses Douglass's exasperation, frustration, and hatred of having been born a slave. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Bernadette Lopez-Fitzsimmons, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Riverdale, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This classic text in both American literature and American history is read by Pete Papageorge with deliberation and simplicity, allowing the author's words to bridge more than 160 years to today's listeners. Following a stirring preface by William Lloyd Garrison (who, nearly 20 years after he first met Douglass, would himself lead the black troops fighting from the North in the Civil War), the not-yet-30-year-old author recounts his life's story, showing effective and evocative use of language as well as unflinchingly examining many aspects of the Peculiar Institution of American Slavery. Douglass attributes his road to freedom as beginning with his being sent from the Maryland plantation of his birth to live in Baltimore as a young boy. There, he learned to read and, more importantly, learned the power of literacy. In early adolescence, he was returned to farm work, suffered abuse at the hands of cruel overseers, and witnessed abuse visited on fellow slaves. He shared his knowledge of reading with a secret "Sunday school" of 40 fellow slaves during his last years of bondage. In his early 20's, he ran away to the North and found refuge among New England abolitionists. Douglass, a reputed orator, combines concrete description of his circumstances with his own emerging analysis of slavery as a condition. This recording makes his rich work available to those who might feel encumbered by the printed page and belongs as an alternative in all school and public library collections.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
**** A reprint of the Harvard University Press publication of 1960, cited in BCL3. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781492281719
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
08/29/2013
Pages:
84
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.17(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

I have often been utterly astonished, since I came north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy….Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion. -- from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Meet the Author

Frederick Douglass was born in slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton in Talbot County, Maryland. He was not sure of the exact year of his birth, but he knew that it was 1817 or 1818. As a young boy he was sent to Baltimore, to be a house servant, where he learned to read and write, with the assistance of his master's wife. In 1838 he escaped from slavery and went to New York City, where he married Anna Murray, a free colored woman whom he had met in Baltimore. Soon thereafter he changed his name to Frederick Douglass. In 1841 he addressed a convention of the Massachusetts Anti-­Slavery Society in Nantucket and so greatly impressed the group that they immediately employed him as an agent. He was such an impressive orator that numerous persons doubted if he had ever been a slave, so he wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. During the Civil War he assisted in the recruiting of colored men for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiments and consistently argued for the emancipation of slaves. After the war he was active in securing and protecting the rights of the freemen. In his later years, at different times, he was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, marshall and recorder of deeds of the District of Columbia, and United States Minister to Haiti. His other autobiographical works are My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, published in 1855 and 1881 respectively. He died in 1895.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Tuckahoe, Maryland
Date of Birth:
1818
Date of Death:
February 20, 1895
Place of Death:
Washington, D.C.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read yhis book for summer reading and i loved it. I reccomend to anyone wondering how it was to be faced with impossible situations and overcome them with just the right mind set. Just great!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this account of Fredrick Douglas' life solid and thoroughly written. It should be required reading in all schools and a research guide for anyone seeking insight into, not only Mr. Douglas' life, but also what life was like for African American's at this time in American history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The most authentic look at past events is through the eyes of someone who lived it. Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland and illegally taught himself to read and write. He escaped and 20 years before the Civil War he wrote of his personal experiences in an attempt to open people's eyes and hearts to the plight of his brethern who were, literally, in chains. If you want to understand where we are now by seeing where we've come from, this clear, consise account of slavery is highly recommended.
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The detail of events was eye opening and theperils of what slaves went through was horrifying. A must read for Black History.
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Fredrick Duglous was a great man & inpsiering peice of history he will alwaysbe remeberd no matter what
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Sadie616 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book about strength and courage. It truly depicts the issue of slavery. Anyone interested in or studying the issue of slavery this is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great resource!
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Christian Gonzales More than 1 year ago
This is probably one of the best books Ive ever read. I will never be the same. Read it and be changed.
Brooke Williams More than 1 year ago
it was an excelent book!!!!! i loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago