Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
Frederick Douglass
Biography & Memoir
Aug 12, 2018
In the 1840s, Frederick Douglass was touring the country as an orator with the Anti-Slavery Society, describing to rapt audiences the horrors of America’s institutionalized bondage and persecution. His eloquence and passion won him renown, but also stoked rumors that he had never been a slave at all, for how could any former field hand speak like Cicero? Dismayed and hungry for justice, Douglass sat down to write this first version of his autobiography; its success didn’t just silence his detractors, it brought new power to the growing chorus of citizens raising their voices in support of abolition. Douglass’s Narrative was not the first account by a former American slave of life in bondage, but it was undoubtedly the most influential.
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Nov 28, 2018
Fits contemporary times all too well.
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traumatizing, in a very necessary way
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To know his history makes this even more incredible.
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It's interesting how the story of one person can have a greater impact than the history of a people or event. In this extraordinary autobiography of abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass, we are given an intimate window into the everyday world of slavery, and it is ugly. I have read only one other book that made me feel so profoundly the lack of humanity and the evil of which humans are capable, and that was "People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck, in which he describes parents who, for Christmas, gift their surviving son the rifle used by another son to kill himself. Douglass tells his story of being born and kept as a slave, and his escape to the North in his early twenties, in a style that highlights the evil he experienced and/or observed in Maryland: - being removed from his mother's care by the age of one, with almost no contact allowed with her for the rest of his life - being clothed as a child only in a knee-length shirt, summer or winter, and going naked if the shirt wore out before the annual clothing allotment - having no provision for beds or bedding except for a single blanket - routine rape of women to increase slaveholders' assets and wealth - deliberate near-starvation of slaves, with stock animals being well-cared for and slaves whipped for any perceived lack of attention to the animals' well-being - slaveholders' (both men and women) and overseers' enjoyment of frequent, repeated, and lengthy slave whippings, often for no reason than satisfaction - old slaves being put out into the forest to fend for themselves - the inevitable degeneration into depravity of whites who were new to slaveholding (thorough marriage, for instance) There's also an epilogue Douglass wrote to clarify his comments on the "Christianity" he observed in both the South and the North. It's not pretty. Ministers going home to rape, preachers spending the rest of the week whipping humans, respectable citizens spending their time finding new ways to force compliance, whether it be though intimidation, murder, or forcible separation of families. More than anywhere else, this is where Douglass expresses his anger.
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Apr 2
A testament to the human spirit, a lesson in how to endure adversity, and an inside perspective on the injustice of slavery.
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This story is riveting, inspirational and gives a great snapshot for life as a slave during this time and is a testament to the human determination to be free
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