Brand : Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave (Bedford Books in American History)



Eric h. roth |

Could this the most important american autobiography ever?

This fiery autobiography, written as anti-slavery propaganda, told of his struggle to gain freedom, identified his "owner", and became a 19th century national bestseller. long before uncle tom's cabin opened the eyes of sentimental northerners to the evils of slavery, douglass' chronicle inspired the small abolitionist movement and challenged the conscience of the united states to live up to the heroic ideals expressed in the declaration of independence... "all men are created equal." the publication of this masterpiece also forced douglass into exile in england for two years to avoid capture by slave traders. british supporters eventually "purchased" douglass allowing this great american to return to the united states and live in freedom. while the battle against slavery was won almost 150 years ago, this autobiography's remains a very powerful tool against racism, ignorance, and historical amnesia. douglass links his quest for literacy with his need to be treated as a man - and become a free man. this book should be required reading, for all american schoolchildren, in the middle school and excerpts should be constantly used in high school and college courses. adult literacy centers should find this story a powerful inspiration too.

Luiz g. m. lapertosa |

Human rights

This is a great book in the sense it helps to have a glance inside a rotten human relationship, even if one admits that there are, perhaps, a few exagerations in the text. slavery and all other social relations one side of which, supposedly, doesn't have any rights, lead to major irreparable social mistakes. both the oppressors and oppressed become worse human beings, and so the society they help to build. a 'must-read book' for all those interested in how human beeings made their real story.

Yayu |

A review by a student

I am a student at parkview high school. i read the book the narrative of the life of frederick douglass. this is an autobiography by frederick douglass who acts as both the narrator and the protagonist. he begins the book with his birth and shows how he progresses from an uneducated, oppressed slave to a worldly and articulate political commentator. douglass was born sometime between 1817 and 1818. his mother was harriet bailey, and his father was thought to be his master, captain anthony. life on this plantation was not as hard as that of most of the other slaves. being a child, he served in the household instead of in the fields. at the age of seven, he was given to captain anthony's son'in'law's brother, hugh auld, who lived in baltimore. douglass remarked on how kind his mistress, sophia auld, was to him at first since she had not yet been corrupted by slavery. she actually started teaching him how to read until her husband forbade her, saying that education made slaves unmanageable. thus two major themes of the book were introduced, ignorance as a tool of slavery and knowledge as a path to freedom. as douglass continued learning, he became conscious of the evils of slavery and of the existence of the abolitionist movement. he resolved to escape to the north eventually. after the deaths of captain anthony and his remaining heirs, douglass was taken back to serve thomas auld, captain anthony's son'in'law. he was a mean man made harsher by his false religious piety. auld considered douglass unmanageable, so he rented him for one year to edward covey, a man known for "breaking" slaves. covey managed, in the first six months, to work and whip all the spirit out of douglass. the turning point came when douglass resolved to fight back against covey, after which covey never touched douglass again. douglass is next rented to william freeland for two years. though freeland was a milder, fairer man, his will to escape was nonetheless renewed. he attempted to escape with three of his fellow slaves, but someone betrayed their plans, and he was sent back to baltimore to learn the trade of ship caulking to keep out of trouble. eventually, douglass received permission from hugh auld to hire out his extra time. he saved money bit by bit and eventually made his escape to new york. he refrained from describing the details of his escape in order to protect the safety of future slaves who might attempt the journey. in new york, douglass feared recapture and changed his name from bailey to douglass. soon after, he married anna murray, a free woman he met while in baltimore. they moved north to massachusetts, where douglass became deeply engaged with the abolitionist movement as both a writer and an orator. the personal account by douglass really opened my eyes to the horrors of slavery. the book showed the damaging effect of slavery on slaveholders and how it was a perversion of christianity. i agree with douglass on not revealing his escape route. i think it wise that he kept the most important part of his narrative a secret so that future runaways can have a better chance at escape. his vivid descriptions of the cruelty of slaveholders were sometimes unbearble. i knew that the masters were usually exceedingly cruel to their slaves, but his narrative made me cringe everytime he was taken to a cruel master. it made me want him to escape so that he will not be subjected to the whippings any longer. he made me feel like that i was there with him, witnessing the horrors of the system. douglass also presented himself as a reasoned, rational figure. his tone was dry, and he did not exaggerate. he was capable of seeing both sides of an issue, even the issue of slavery. this gave his narrative an objective view that made it very valuable to the abolitionist movement. i thought the narrative was very powerful and touching and should be a good read for everyone.