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Born a slave, Frederick Douglass educated himself, escaped, and made himself one of the greatest leaders in American history. Here in this Library of America volume are collected his three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly e Born a slave, Frederick Douglass educated himself, escaped, and made himself one of the greatest leaders in American history. Here in this Library of America volume are collected his three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly effective spokesman for the abolition of slavery and equal rights, Douglass shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of monumental odds. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), published seven years after his escape, was written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave. A powerfully compressed account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Douglass was born, it brought him to the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause. In My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), written after he had established himself as a newspaper editor, Douglass expands the account of his slave years. With astonishing psychological penetration, he probes the painful ambiguities and subtly corrosive effects of black-white relations under slavery, then goes on to recount his determined resistance to segregation in the North. The book also incorporates extracts from Douglass’s renowned speeches, including the searing “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, first published in 1881, records Douglass’s efforts to keep alive the struggle for racial equality in the years following the Civil War. Now a socially and politically prominent figure, he looks back, with a mixture of pride and bitterness, on the triumphs and humiliations of a unique public career. John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe all feature prominently in this chronicle of a crucial epoch in American history. The revised edition of 1893, presented here, includes an account of his controversial diplomatic mission to Haiti. This volume contains a detailed chronology of Douglass’s life, notes providing further background on the events and people mentioned, and an account of the textual history of each of the autobiographies.


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Born a slave, Frederick Douglass educated himself, escaped, and made himself one of the greatest leaders in American history. Here in this Library of America volume are collected his three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly e Born a slave, Frederick Douglass educated himself, escaped, and made himself one of the greatest leaders in American history. Here in this Library of America volume are collected his three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly effective spokesman for the abolition of slavery and equal rights, Douglass shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of monumental odds. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), published seven years after his escape, was written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave. A powerfully compressed account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Douglass was born, it brought him to the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause. In My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), written after he had established himself as a newspaper editor, Douglass expands the account of his slave years. With astonishing psychological penetration, he probes the painful ambiguities and subtly corrosive effects of black-white relations under slavery, then goes on to recount his determined resistance to segregation in the North. The book also incorporates extracts from Douglass’s renowned speeches, including the searing “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, first published in 1881, records Douglass’s efforts to keep alive the struggle for racial equality in the years following the Civil War. Now a socially and politically prominent figure, he looks back, with a mixture of pride and bitterness, on the triumphs and humiliations of a unique public career. John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe all feature prominently in this chronicle of a crucial epoch in American history. The revised edition of 1893, presented here, includes an account of his controversial diplomatic mission to Haiti. This volume contains a detailed chronology of Douglass’s life, notes providing further background on the events and people mentioned, and an account of the textual history of each of the autobiographies.

30 review for Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass / My Bondage and My Freedom / Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    Fredrick Douglas is one of my heroes. This book was a cornerstone in prison. It taught us how to insist on freedom, even when we didn't have it. Reading this book changed my relationship with the guards entirely. I can't think of a single piece of writing that has effected my life more. Fredrick Douglas is one of my heroes. This book was a cornerstone in prison. It taught us how to insist on freedom, even when we didn't have it. Reading this book changed my relationship with the guards entirely. I can't think of a single piece of writing that has effected my life more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    The Life Of A Free Man Frederick Douglass (1818?-1895) was the greatest African American leader of the Nineteenth Century. He was born a slave on the Eastern Shore in Maryland and grew up on plantations on the Eastern Shore with several years in Baltimore. He was a physically powerful, highly intelligent, and spirited youth and developed quickly a hatred of the slave system. As a slave, he taught himself to read and write, and learned the art of public speaking from the church and from a book of The Life Of A Free Man Frederick Douglass (1818?-1895) was the greatest African American leader of the Nineteenth Century. He was born a slave on the Eastern Shore in Maryland and grew up on plantations on the Eastern Shore with several years in Baltimore. He was a physically powerful, highly intelligent, and spirited youth and developed quickly a hatred of the slave system. As a slave, he taught himself to read and write, and learned the art of public speaking from the church and from a book of orations popular at the time that feel into his hands. He escaped from slavery at the age of 20 and moved to New Bedford,Massachusetts. He became part of the Abolitionist Movement and achieved fame as a public speaker. He became a newspaper editor and writer. During the Civil War, he assisted in the recruitment of black troops. He met President Lincoln on several occasions and became a great admirer. In later years, Douglass was aligned with the conservative "stalwart" wing of the Republican party and continued to speak out for the rights of African-Americans, to oppose (somewhat belatedly) the end of Reconstruction, and to work for the life of the spirit and the mind. Frederick Douglass wrote three autobiographies which are given in this volume. The first, shortest, and best was written in 1845, seven years after Douglass had escaped from slavery. It tells in graphic and unforgettable terms the story of Douglass' life as a slave, the growth of the spirit of freedom in himself. and the early part of his life as a free man in New Bedford. The second autobiography was written in 1855. It repeats much of the earlier story and describes Douglass's visit to Great Britain. A highlight of this volume is the Appendix in which Douglass gives the reader excerpts from several of his speeches, including his perhaps most famous speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." Douglass wrote his third autobiography in 1888 and edited it substantially in 1893. It describes Douglass's relationship with Abraham Lincoln and John Brown. I also enjoyed the section of the book in which Douglass describes his trip to England, Italy, and Egypt near the end of his life. It is highly intelligent, perceptive and reflective travel writing. There are also excerpts in this final autobiography from Douglass's speeches and letters. The most striking incident in all three volumes is Douglass's story of how he stood up for himself and became in his own eyes a man of dignity and courage. Douglass had been sent for a year to live with a small farmer named Covey who had a reputation for breaking the sprit of strong-willed slaves. Covey whipped Douglass unmercifully for the first six months. Then, after a whipping which left Douglass scared and weak for several days (he ran back to his old master who ordered him back to Covey) Douglass fought back. Covey attempted to whip Douglass and Douglass resisted. The two men fought hand-to-hand for hours. Douglass could not assume the offensive in the fight (it was enough to resist at all) but more than held his ground and had the better of it. Covey at last walked off and never whipped Douglass again. This incident is strikingly told in each autobiography and marks the moment when Douglass showed he could stand up for himself and not have the spirit of a slave. It is inspiring and it grounded his actions for the rest of his life. There is much in these books that transcends the resistance against American slavery, utterly important as that is. We have, as I have tried to explain, in this book the voice of personal freedom and self-determination which is something every person must learn and understand for him or herself in deciding how to live. In addition, I get the impression that as Douglass aged he became increasingly committed to the life of the mind and the spirit. This is apparent from his writing and from his interest in travel, in European high culture, art, literature, and music. Douglass learned the meaning for freedom. He tried to devote himself to matters of the spirit in addition to his lifelong quest to improve the lot of the former slave. I think there is still a great deal to be learned here. Douglass had much to say about the nature of American freedom and democracy. He loved and had faith in them, in spite of the horrible stain of slavery. Here is a wonderful observation from the third autobiography in which Douglass' describes his activities during the Presidential campaign of 1888. "I left the discussion of the tariff to my young friend Morris, while I spoke for justice and humanity....I took it to be the vital and animating principle of the Republican party. I found the people more courageous than their party leaders. What the leaders were afraid to teach, the people were brave enough and glad enough to learn. I held that the soul of the nation was in this question, and that the gain of all the gold in the world would not compensate for the loss of the nation's soul. National honor is the soul of the nation, and when this is lost all is lost. ... As with an individual, so too with a nation, there is a time when it may properly be asked "What doth it profit to gain the whole world and thereby lose one's soul?" There is a spirit and a wisdom in Douglass that still has much to teach. As a man of the Nineteenth Century, Douglass tells us little in his autobiographies of his personal life. Upon his escape from slavery, Douglass married a free, uneducated black woman. Upon her death, Douglass married a white woman, which (as we see briefly in the book) caused shock among American whites and blacks alike. We also see little of Douglass' relationship to his children. The reader who would like to learn more about Douglass' personal life needs to read a biography, such as William McFeeley's "Frederick Douglass" (1991) Douglass' autobiographies are precious work of American literature and a testimony to the free human spirit. Robin Friedman

  3. 4 out of 5

    W.B.

    The Autobiography slew me. So important and expressed so rendingly ...what really strikes one is the complete absence of self-pity and the almost terrifying objectivity he is able to maintain as he describes the horrible details of his life, the casually procrustean culture of slavery America...the very entity which casually excised his family from him, forever denying him maternal and paternal love, fraternal love, the gift of owning one's own soul...so much was denied him that it would take da The Autobiography slew me. So important and expressed so rendingly ...what really strikes one is the complete absence of self-pity and the almost terrifying objectivity he is able to maintain as he describes the horrible details of his life, the casually procrustean culture of slavery America...the very entity which casually excised his family from him, forever denying him maternal and paternal love, fraternal love, the gift of owning one's own soul...so much was denied him that it would take days or weeks to list...by a culture which repeatedly attempted to render him subhuman on the rare occasions it did not assume he was. His mind is permanently darkened but his soul keeps producing more light...how?...I would list this among the most important books ever produced by an American author...no wonder Lincoln made him a confidante and respected him so...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rinchen Dolma

    I thought this narrative was brilliant. It evoked my sense of justice for the people who are racially discriminated. Fredrick Douglass is a great writer. Through using literary elements such as imagery, metaphor and many more, Douglass illustrates the reader the pain and the discrimination that the slaves had to suffer through. I will recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learninga about slavery.

  5. 4 out of 5

    hami

    The first part of the book is about his upbringing during slavery. Prior to his escape, he attempted to run away many times which resulted in severe punishments. In the book, he places the reader in the psychological condition of slavery and the brutality of white people towards the black folks. In part one, around chapter twelve, he talks about the story of his escape. It was common at that time for white people to encourage slaves to escape only to go after them to send them back to slavery to The first part of the book is about his upbringing during slavery. Prior to his escape, he attempted to run away many times which resulted in severe punishments. In the book, he places the reader in the psychological condition of slavery and the brutality of white people towards the black folks. In part one, around chapter twelve, he talks about the story of his escape. It was common at that time for white people to encourage slaves to escape only to go after them to send them back to slavery to make a profit. Sometimes the wealthier slave owners would go around the country and ask the slaves if they were content with their life just to find out who is complaining about their masters. There is an instance in the book where Frederick Douglass was on the verge of being captured. He describes for the reader (assuming white readers) that as a fugitive slave when they were returned to slavery it would make the conditions worse not only for the person who was attempting to scape but also for the rest of the black folks. Similar to military punishment in concentration camps, the white masters would make the conditions harsher for everyone rather than just the individual escaping. That would result in harsher treatments not only by the masters but also by all other folks on the plantation. The second half of the “Life and Times” which is the bulk of the autobiography, focuses on his political activism and socio-political conditions of his time, not just in the United States but also in other countries where he had visited. He often goes in-depth to give details about his meetings with people such as John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although the majority of his writings are focused on the horrors of slavery and brutality of white folks in the South, there are few instances in which we hear about racism in the North. He mentions that it was common in the North for white folks to read his newspaper and automatically assume that he’s white or there is a white person behind his success. The bloody draft riots of July 1863 is another historical example of racist brutality in the North, where for three days in New York white mob killed black people for no reason other than them being black. One of my favorites parts of the book is the chapter on John Brown. He talks about some other radicals such as Samuel R. Ward and the “Free Soil Party”. Douglass was impressed by Ward’s brilliance in speech. He also admired the bravery of John Brown and his men among which there have been many black folks. (2) On page 755, he talks about Brown creating a constitution for his men to avoid anarchy, and he also hid information from them for the sake of security of his missions. Another great account of John Brown’s militancy was given by W.E.B. Du Bois in a book with the same title published in 1909. Douglass also criticizes the bible scholars of the south, many of whom tried to justify slavery using anecdotes from the bible. “In this the preachers were not much behind the press and the politicians, especially that class of preachers known as Doctors of Divinity. A long list of these came forward with their Bibles to show that neither Christ nor his holy apostles objected to returning fugitives to slavery. Now that that evil day is past, a sight of those sermons would, I doubt not, bring the red blush of shame to the cheeks of many.” In chapter 9, he talks about the newly arrived immigrants that their hunger and light skin prioritizes them against the interests of the black people. In the same chapter, Douglass describes the ”nameless and shapeless ‘party’ of slavery”. An invisible party that white people from different geographies and socio-political status are believing in. “Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment to make room for some newly-arrived emigrant from the Emerald Isle, whose hunger and color entitle him to special favor.” Later towards the end of the book, he elucidates the importance of “slave narrative” for the struggle to freedom. Douglass’s mission was to tell the story of black folks. And he mentions that philosophy and theology have come to aid the master’s story. Reading Douglass, it might appear that he’s simply praising Lincoln (especially in the appendix), however, with further excavation we can see that his criticism of whiteness is been planted in his writings with an extremely subtle tone. Read the full review at: insideanairport ***

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gorman

    I read the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" within this anthology. Douglass is a masterful writer of creative nonfiction. The reader learns in startling (but not total) detail how slavery robbed Douglass of a family and exposed him to violence from childhood onward. Since Douglass wrote two later autobiographies, the reader knows that he keeps portions of his story private. The "Narrative" is not an autobiography proper, but rather a nineteenth-century slave narra I read the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" within this anthology. Douglass is a masterful writer of creative nonfiction. The reader learns in startling (but not total) detail how slavery robbed Douglass of a family and exposed him to violence from childhood onward. Since Douglass wrote two later autobiographies, the reader knows that he keeps portions of his story private. The "Narrative" is not an autobiography proper, but rather a nineteenth-century slave narrative. This genre had a mandated storyline — a journey from slavery to liberation — and Douglass makes sure that his life story follows that plot arc. Douglass is politic in the framing of his story. He includes much praise for white abolitionists and the Lord. He criticizes the hypocrisy of slave-owning Southern Christians, but is careful to praise Christianity at large, lest he alienate the Christian abolitionists who are his readers. Do not mistake these political considerations as criticism of Douglass's writing. His conviction and anger at slave society, plus his strength as an author, ensures that surpasses the two introductions by abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, whose hearts are in the right place, but whose prose is boilerplate. The testimony of Frederick Douglass is a more effective anti-slavery argument than anything two white gentlemen could write. It's a sad fact of nineteenth-century America that a talented memoirist like Douglass still needed two white men to vouch for his narrative. Supporters of slavery would dismiss Douglass's book as fiction, ghostwritten by white abolitionist with a "political" ax to grind. I wish I had the time at present to read Douglass's "My Bondage and My Freedom" and "Life and Times." As usual, the Library of America prints on preservation-quality paper stock and provides informative notes, but keeps commentary to a minimum, so that the reader focuses on the text.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Can't remember what I read excactly by Douglass, except that I got part of the narrative of his childhood, his escape, his new life, and his thoughts on reconstruction. It was really quite startling, and not in the way I expected. It's no secret that his story would have some horrific moments, but some of the smaller details were pretty raw, like when he related that he had heard people in the North insist that slaves must be happy because they sang. Perhaps it was because that kind of moment se Can't remember what I read excactly by Douglass, except that I got part of the narrative of his childhood, his escape, his new life, and his thoughts on reconstruction. It was really quite startling, and not in the way I expected. It's no secret that his story would have some horrific moments, but some of the smaller details were pretty raw, like when he related that he had heard people in the North insist that slaves must be happy because they sang. Perhaps it was because that kind of moment seems so much more accessible than some of the brutality that's so bad that it seems distant and foreign.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate Gukeisen

    The "Narrative of the Life of Federick Douglass" is the powerful story of Douglass’ first-hand experience as a slave, his escape from slavery, and the genesis of his involvement in the abolitionist movement. The frank descriptions and complex subject matter of this authentic text make this book a valuable informative text for older middle school students (7th and 8th grade) in the context of social studies, history, and language arts. The "Narrative of the Life of Federick Douglass" is the powerful story of Douglass’ first-hand experience as a slave, his escape from slavery, and the genesis of his involvement in the abolitionist movement. The frank descriptions and complex subject matter of this authentic text make this book a valuable informative text for older middle school students (7th and 8th grade) in the context of social studies, history, and language arts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Hands down my favorite book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Tessman

    A collection of Frederick Douglass’ three autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Douglass’ story is compelling and he shares a lot of interesting background information on the politics and history of his time, but each of the three autobiographies in the book start with the same stories told in a slightly different manner (being a slave, escaping to freedom, and working as an abolitionist), making the exe A collection of Frederick Douglass’ three autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Douglass’ story is compelling and he shares a lot of interesting background information on the politics and history of his time, but each of the three autobiographies in the book start with the same stories told in a slightly different manner (being a slave, escaping to freedom, and working as an abolitionist), making the exercise of reading the book from start to finish simply exhausting. By time I reached the third autobiography in the book, I was, quite frankly, sick and tired of reading about him. This is not so much a criticism of Douglass as is it the decision of the publishing company to make such a compilation. If you’re interested in Frederick Douglass, I would recommend his second or third autobiography. The first (Narrative...) was written within a few years of his escape at a time when he could not go into the specifics of his escape or it would have put others at risk. The second book (My Bondage and My Freedom) is better written and goes into more detail about his escape and also includes some of his writings and speeches on anti-slavery. The third book (Life and Times...) is a mixed bag. It covers his time in slavery, but the quality of the writing is not as good as the second book and is disorganized. That said, the section on his escape is written in even greater detail than the second book and was exciting. But, it then goes into excruciating detail about his time as an abolitionist - some of which is interesting; at other points, however, Douglass comes across sounding a bit egotistical and he does a lot of name-dropping (this is a disservice to his character, as I do not believe he was anything but selfless and was merely trying to preserve history). Finally, it recovers through its inclusion of his viewpoints on the Civil War and its aftermath of up to 15 years later, which was enlightening. All three autobiographies disappointed in that they told very little of his wife and children. In short, I enjoyed the second book most and that’s the one I’d recommend readers start with. And then, if someone wanted to know more about Douglass' escape and everything after, I’d have them read the second half of the third book. Despite my distaste for this compilation, I really do feel that Douglass' life tells an invaluable lesson and at least one of the three autobiographies included in this collection should be required reading in high school.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jo-Ann

    This Library of American volume was curated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr, and in many aspects, Douglass could have been writing today, at least from a moral and philosophical standpoint. I could not read all of the volume without taking breaks. While the descriptions of the physical cruelty toward slaves was heinous enough, the psycho social, cultural, environmental and spiritual abuses were as much so. It was not only what slavery and associated racial prejudice did to the victims, but what it This Library of American volume was curated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr, and in many aspects, Douglass could have been writing today, at least from a moral and philosophical standpoint. I could not read all of the volume without taking breaks. While the descriptions of the physical cruelty toward slaves was heinous enough, the psycho social, cultural, environmental and spiritual abuses were as much so. It was not only what slavery and associated racial prejudice did to the victims, but what it did to the characters of the perpetrators, even those who did not start out with strong convictions as in the case of Sophia Auld, that I found disturbing and compelling. Douglass' memoirs illustrate the curious and complicated bonds between the families of the slave holders and those of the slaves, as in the story of Amanda Auld, the daughter of Lucretia. A glaring omission for me was in the story of Anna Murray, and how little was there of this relationship, which obviously had grounded Frederick Douglass and allowed him to do his valuable work. There is no doubt of the high esteem he held her, but not many details. I would have liked to learn more of their life together from his perspective, but one gets the sense of privacy in that quarter. His pride in his family with her lifts from the pages. A profoundly moving read, especially for Black History Month. And, certainly our collective history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alfred Smith

    A great inspirational and educational read Very glad I was able to get the collection in one volume like this. Seeing the evolution of Douglas and the experiences he faced, brought life into the reading and context to the things he faced and sadly to some things we face now. Particularly in regards to ignorance. It was the great slave master that he recognised was the thing he had to overcome first before he would have his freedom. Thankfully, this he did and we now have three great inspirational A great inspirational and educational read Very glad I was able to get the collection in one volume like this. Seeing the evolution of Douglas and the experiences he faced, brought life into the reading and context to the things he faced and sadly to some things we face now. Particularly in regards to ignorance. It was the great slave master that he recognised was the thing he had to overcome first before he would have his freedom. Thankfully, this he did and we now have three great inspirational chronicles of his life, spanning different perspectives and periods of his challenged life. Also included are some of his writings and speeches, which added some historical perspective to things that are rarely, if ever, taught about the period surrounding the Civil War and afterwards. So much to unpack. Needless to say, highest recommendation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Douglass wrote 3 autobiographies at different points in his life and they are all contained in this book along with a number of his speeches. Douglass was a fugitive slave, an auto didact with no formal education, a laborer, an acclaimed orator, a newspaper editor and publisher, a diplomat, and Marshall of Washington D.C. He lived a fascinating and dangerous life and was one of the 2 or 3 most influential abolitionists in American history. There are books that abridge and reconcile the 3 narrati Douglass wrote 3 autobiographies at different points in his life and they are all contained in this book along with a number of his speeches. Douglass was a fugitive slave, an auto didact with no formal education, a laborer, an acclaimed orator, a newspaper editor and publisher, a diplomat, and Marshall of Washington D.C. He lived a fascinating and dangerous life and was one of the 2 or 3 most influential abolitionists in American history. There are books that abridge and reconcile the 3 narratives, but I like having the original texts. I wish there were some footnotes to provide background con the many historical figures Douglass met.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Stunning revelations, and admonishments Douglass is a stunningly admirable, on par with Alexander Hamilton. Came from nothing (and worse for Douglass), self-educated, driven, massive intellect that demands respect, counselor to crucial Presidents at crucial times, and became a critical national voice on critical national issues. Douglass loved America, the ideals of America, the Constitution of America. He hated slavery, while very strongly and directly admonishing against black victimhood. Yes, h Stunning revelations, and admonishments Douglass is a stunningly admirable, on par with Alexander Hamilton. Came from nothing (and worse for Douglass), self-educated, driven, massive intellect that demands respect, counselor to crucial Presidents at crucial times, and became a critical national voice on critical national issues. Douglass loved America, the ideals of America, the Constitution of America. He hated slavery, while very strongly and directly admonishing against black victimhood. Yes, he simply wanted freedom and equality, and urged nothing but hard work, perseverance, frugality, and undying hope for his fellow former slaves and descendants.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Jellinek

    This book includes all three of Frederick Douglass's extraordinary autobiographies, each building on the one before and adding more details as it became safe to do so. It also includes some of his speeches and letters. An exceptionally gifted writer, he brings the horrors of his life as a slave in eastern Maryland vividly to life. His insights into the profound psychic damage that slavery inflicts both on the slave and on the slave-holder are especially powerful and still resonate today, in our This book includes all three of Frederick Douglass's extraordinary autobiographies, each building on the one before and adding more details as it became safe to do so. It also includes some of his speeches and letters. An exceptionally gifted writer, he brings the horrors of his life as a slave in eastern Maryland vividly to life. His insights into the profound psychic damage that slavery inflicts both on the slave and on the slave-holder are especially powerful and still resonate today, in our politics and our national character. Very highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    M

    I have read Douglass’ first and second autobiographies before but reading all three together was really interesting. I enjoyed seeing his perspective change a few years after escaping slavery to nearly the end of his great life. While his first autobiography is a straightforward narrative, his second has an abolitionist point of view, and more details that support his cause. I learned a lot from his third which focuses a lot more on black rights and quality of life - particularly how that pertai I have read Douglass’ first and second autobiographies before but reading all three together was really interesting. I enjoyed seeing his perspective change a few years after escaping slavery to nearly the end of his great life. While his first autobiography is a straightforward narrative, his second has an abolitionist point of view, and more details that support his cause. I learned a lot from his third which focuses a lot more on black rights and quality of life - particularly how that pertains to the world stage.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Wellnitz

    The text of his speeches and accounts of his time serving the Federal government is readily understandable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    Incredible history written with incredible clarity and insight. Frederick Douglas was one of the best of us, that is for sure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    alice conne

    Great must read

  20. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Douglass is a classic of American literature, so there's not a whole lot that I can add. He is a giant among writers, a continuing testimony against the horrors of slavery and racism. Like a lot of school children, I read selections from his works many years ago. I remember the usual platitudes sung in his praise about being a "self-made man," or his closeness with President Lincoln. While it's great that he has become a standard in the pantheon of textbooks, it's a curse in some ways. His words Douglass is a classic of American literature, so there's not a whole lot that I can add. He is a giant among writers, a continuing testimony against the horrors of slavery and racism. Like a lot of school children, I read selections from his works many years ago. I remember the usual platitudes sung in his praise about being a "self-made man," or his closeness with President Lincoln. While it's great that he has become a standard in the pantheon of textbooks, it's a curse in some ways. His words get lost in the rote rituals of homework, quickly forgotten once all the tests and reports are done. Divorced from any further thought, he becomes idolized as a "good Black man" that the rest of America can safely admire without guilt, similar to MLK Jr. Which is why it is not only a pleasure, but a necessity to revisit the great authors from time to time. You are never too old to re-read Douglass. His strength as an author came from something remarkably simple--he wrote about himself. And within that simplicity is layer after layer of inspiration and truth that will reward time and again. I am not the person I was when I read his words for the first time. Read in the light of five, ten, fifteen year's worth of change, you pick up on things you may not have noticed before. Douglass himself knew the value of memory, and periodically re-evaluating one's life (part of the reason he wrote and added to his autobiography three times). Douglass as denouncer of slavery is familiar to us, and easy to grasp 150+ years after the official end of slavery. But what about Douglass the feminist? He was an early proponent of women's suffrage. Or what about Douglass the inciter? He was close friends with John Brown, the famous abolitionist who raided Harper's Ferry, an act that today would be labelled terrorism. Douglass himself ruminated on the fickle nature of history when he gave a speech praising Brown years after the war, when only a couple decades before he would have been hanged for doing the same. Whether he was writing about Europe's more progressive treatment of minorities, or pushing for more federal action toward racial equality through laws, Douglass often sounded like what would today be called (and mocked) as a "social justice warrior."

  21. 5 out of 5

    JoséMaría BlancoWhite

    Indeed this is a testimony that covers most of 19th century American history. I don't know how any person claiming to be American can legitimately do so without having read any of the autobiographies collected here. It should be a requirement for citizenship (instead of the unmerited fact of being born). If there is no doubt that Douglass was an extraordinarily talented writer, the marvelous thing is that his soul was no less extraordinary than his mind. “Upon this pro-slavery platform the war ag Indeed this is a testimony that covers most of 19th century American history. I don't know how any person claiming to be American can legitimately do so without having read any of the autobiographies collected here. It should be a requirement for citizenship (instead of the unmerited fact of being born). If there is no doubt that Douglass was an extraordinarily talented writer, the marvelous thing is that his soul was no less extraordinary than his mind. “Upon this pro-slavery platform the war against the rebellion had been waged during more than two years. It had not been a war of conquest, but rather a war of conciliation … without hurting slavery.” Slavery was not a casus belli, but the right to secede was. “Men could say they were willing to fight for the Union, but that they were not willing to fight for the freedom of the negroes … this was especially true of New York, where there was a large Irish population … There is perhaps no darker chapter in the whole history of the war than this cowardly and bloody uprising in July, 1863. For three days and nights New York was in the hands of a ferocious mob … it hanged negroes simply because they were negroes; it murdered women in their homes, and burnt their homes over their heads; it dashed out the brains of young children against the lamp-posts; it burned the colored orphan asylum”. Douglass tells things as they were, not a bit like modern journalists do: either demonizing or omitting things as their own interests dictate them. Douglass is to be praised and imitated by all those who have the power to impress the minds of readers anywhere. A courageous, goodnatured, and honest man like you don't find anymore. “I esteem myself a good, persistent hater of injustice and oppression, but my resentment ceases when they cease, and I have no heart to visit upon children the sins of their fathers.” I loved this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam Gutschenritter

    Narrative of the Life: Book 1, Douglass's blunt, terse style works well in his purpose to just "relate and describe...the facts narrated." It was much more effective then I would have thought possible, although I am often surprised how effective simple prose can be. My Bondage and My Freedom: Book 2 (10 years later), The style is the same, but then so are all the details and the stories told about his time in slavery with only a few places, such as descriptions of life with his grandmother, wher Narrative of the Life: Book 1, Douglass's blunt, terse style works well in his purpose to just "relate and describe...the facts narrated." It was much more effective then I would have thought possible, although I am often surprised how effective simple prose can be. My Bondage and My Freedom: Book 2 (10 years later), The style is the same, but then so are all the details and the stories told about his time in slavery with only a few places, such as descriptions of life with his grandmother, where new details are provided. The real meat of this book is the last 2 chapters where he describes the events of the last 10 years, focusing on his time in England. Life and Times: Book 3 (38 years later), The style is still the same and the first 1/3rd of the book still contains the details of the first two books. the remainder of the book focuses on Douglass's antislavery contributions from the North Star to his running the underground railroad in Rochester, NY with J.P. Morris. It talks of John Brown's attempt to recruit him to help plan a guerrilla campaign in the south and his relationship with Harriett Beecher Stowe. The story continues into his relationship with Lincoln and eventually into the Women's rights movement. The Narrative of the Life is by far the most touching as it is the core of all three books, but the historian in me found his involvement within multiple areas of movements incredibly fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    E.

    I read the first of Douglass' three autobiographies, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Douglass is a good storyteller, evoking powerful and moving scenes from his slave experience and presenting interesting characters. In this book he did not describe his escape, because he didn't want to do anything that would negatively affect those who helped nor cut off a possible escape route for others. One can only imagine what his former slaveholders who are mentioned in I read the first of Douglass' three autobiographies, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Douglass is a good storyteller, evoking powerful and moving scenes from his slave experience and presenting interesting characters. In this book he did not describe his escape, because he didn't want to do anything that would negatively affect those who helped nor cut off a possible escape route for others. One can only imagine what his former slaveholders who are mentioned in the book must have thought if they read what he wrote! One thing that comes in for lots of critique in the book is the professed Christianity of the slaveholders. In fact, his language is so critical that he felt it necessary to append and explanation that he was not critical of authentic Christianity, only that the slaveholders were not practicing it authentically. I'm surprised that this short, concise book was not standard school age reading when I was a kid. I wonder if it is now? It should be.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim Gold

    I found Douglass's story really interesting. Born around 1818, he escaped to freedom in 1838 from his life as a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore and in Baltimore. Just a few years later, after becoming acquainted with prominent abolitionists, he was invited to speak at a gathering and was a sensation. In 1845, he published his first autobiography, which provides both his personal experiences as a slave and his thoughts on slavery as an institution. His writing was (and is) so eloquent that some I found Douglass's story really interesting. Born around 1818, he escaped to freedom in 1838 from his life as a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore and in Baltimore. Just a few years later, after becoming acquainted with prominent abolitionists, he was invited to speak at a gathering and was a sensation. In 1845, he published his first autobiography, which provides both his personal experiences as a slave and his thoughts on slavery as an institution. His writing was (and is) so eloquent that some were skeptical that it could have been written by someone just a few years out of slavery. FD was a remarkable self-educated man. In subsequent autobiographies, it was really neat to read his contemporary (often eyewitness) accounts of the turbulent events of the 1850's and 1860's; we learn of Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, the Fugitive Slave Act, etc. It's a great companion piece to Team of Rivals.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Lang

    Frederick Douglass in my opinion is the greatest of all Americans. He was a man who lived according to a righteousness not of this earth. Where the founding fathers of the US were absolutely hypocritical in the their word and ideals there was no contradiction found in Frederick Douglass. Not only did he stand absolute for the personhood of his people, he stood resolute in not obtaining this rightful freedom by violent means. When very few men would stand for equal standing for women, Frederick D Frederick Douglass in my opinion is the greatest of all Americans. He was a man who lived according to a righteousness not of this earth. Where the founding fathers of the US were absolutely hypocritical in the their word and ideals there was no contradiction found in Frederick Douglass. Not only did he stand absolute for the personhood of his people, he stood resolute in not obtaining this rightful freedom by violent means. When very few men would stand for equal standing for women, Frederick Douglass was a lone supporter. He saw injustice in the dealings of the English upon Irish Protestants. He was honored in their land. In my mind Frederick Douglass is the real founder of this country and its principles. To read the fullness of Frederick Douglass' story the original autobiography and the two revisions should be read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    A peripheral note to a powerful statement: What style to employ in describing the searing, colossal affront to humanity that is slavery? To 21st Century readers, Douglass's understated, elegant prose seems detached, unengaged, almost clinical. This is not Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver or Stokely Carmichael. How much here is a demonstration of mastering 19th Century literary convention -- largely untrodden territory for black writers -- and how much a self-preserving distancing from mind-numbing expe A peripheral note to a powerful statement: What style to employ in describing the searing, colossal affront to humanity that is slavery? To 21st Century readers, Douglass's understated, elegant prose seems detached, unengaged, almost clinical. This is not Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver or Stokely Carmichael. How much here is a demonstration of mastering 19th Century literary convention -- largely untrodden territory for black writers -- and how much a self-preserving distancing from mind-numbing experience?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    I managed to finish the first two autobiographies but got bogged down in the third which was fairly repetitious for the first 300 or so pages. Then I skipped around some and was basically not too enthralled with his work within the Republican party, the name dropping, or later recollections. I didn't finish the last book. Would like to try again someday when the other two are not so fresh in my mind. I managed to finish the first two autobiographies but got bogged down in the third which was fairly repetitious for the first 300 or so pages. Then I skipped around some and was basically not too enthralled with his work within the Republican party, the name dropping, or later recollections. I didn't finish the last book. Would like to try again someday when the other two are not so fresh in my mind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dave Moran

    I saw 12 Years a Slave and was moved to read this as a kind of compendium to the movie. The narrative is only a bit over 100 pages but is so remarkable, both in style and substance, that it blew me away. I read it in high school but reading it as an adult was far more enriching. I don't remember reading the appendix on religion but it's so relevant to the county's current religious condition. I'm sure I'll come back to this book again. I saw 12 Years a Slave and was moved to read this as a kind of compendium to the movie. The narrative is only a bit over 100 pages but is so remarkable, both in style and substance, that it blew me away. I read it in high school but reading it as an adult was far more enriching. I don't remember reading the appendix on religion but it's so relevant to the county's current religious condition. I'm sure I'll come back to this book again.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vickie Figueroa

    Awesome story of America's dark history. New appreciation for what slaves endured and how slavery corrupted owners, traders, government. (Easy, big money is always tempting) Frederick Douglas was driven, kind, self-taught and generous. An insider's view of slavery and freedom, and the importance of education. As Frederick Douglass purports, it's hard to keep an educated man enslaved. Fantastic writer, and historians have claimed he was a fantastic and sought after speaker. Awesome story of America's dark history. New appreciation for what slaves endured and how slavery corrupted owners, traders, government. (Easy, big money is always tempting) Frederick Douglas was driven, kind, self-taught and generous. An insider's view of slavery and freedom, and the importance of education. As Frederick Douglass purports, it's hard to keep an educated man enslaved. Fantastic writer, and historians have claimed he was a fantastic and sought after speaker.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    This book is three autobiographies by Frederick Douglass, of course it is going to be good. I suggest, you read Life and Times of Frederick Douglass because it is the last one he wrote and he basically added on his later years to My Bondage and My Freedom. FYI, if you read all three starting from the beginning of this book you'll be rereading a lot of the same stuff. This book is three autobiographies by Frederick Douglass, of course it is going to be good. I suggest, you read Life and Times of Frederick Douglass because it is the last one he wrote and he basically added on his later years to My Bondage and My Freedom. FYI, if you read all three starting from the beginning of this book you'll be rereading a lot of the same stuff.

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