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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Book Overview: 

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th Century in the United States.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .is or her post; and woe betides them who hear not this morning summons to the field; for if they are not awakened by the sense of hearing, they are by the sense of feeling: no age nor sex finds any favor. Mr. Severe, the overseer, used to stand by the door of the quarter, armed with a large hickory stick and heavy cowskin, ready to whip any one who was so unfortunate as not to hear, or, from any other cause, was prevented from being ready to start for the field at the sound of the horn.

Mr. Severe was rightly named: he was a cruel man. I have seen him whip a woman, causing the blood to run half an hour at the time; and this, too, in the midst of her crying children, pleading for their mother's release. He seemed to take pleasure in manifesting his fiendish barbarity. Added to his cruelty, he was a profane swearer. It was enough to chill the blood and stiffen the hair of an ordinary man to hear him talk. Scarce a sentence escaped him but that was commenced or co. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Thank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.

How often is it that you can honestly say that you’...more

What a powerful piece of writing this is. Slavery is such an ugly part of American history, and this narrative tells all of the ordeals that Frederick Douglass had to overcome, including whippings, beatings, hunger, tyrannical masters, backbreaking labor, and horrible living conditions.

Douglass...more

This book is not an important historical document to be placed in a glass case and venerated during Black History Month. It should be read by all, regardless of race or creed, as a warning against prejudice and oppression.

Douglass' description of the cruel conditions of slavery is mind-searing. H...more

("Portrait of Frederick Douglass as a younger man", engraving by J.C. Buttre, 1855)

"You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”

Why is this book not required reading for American high school students?? It is a difficult book to read, to be sure, but ought...more

"ليس مُهمٍّا تحت أي اصطلاح مزيّف تتستّر العبودية، فإنها لا تزال بشعة وبها ميل طبيعي حتى للعصف بكل مَلَكة نبيلة عند الإنسان."
-دانيال أوكونيل

لم ولن أفهم أو أستوعب كيف يمكن لإنسان أن يقوم باستعباد وإذلال إنسان آخر، لا لشيء سوى أنه مختلف عنه باللون أو بالعِرق أو بالدين أو باللغة! من الذي قرر بأن...more

Book Review
I first read the biographical introduction about Frederick Douglass and learned many new things. I knew he wrote a few autobiographies, but I never knew that he spanned them over 40 years of writing and that he lived for close to 80 years. I then read both the preface by Garrison a...more

"…My copybook was the board-fence, brick wall, and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to write."As with Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, I feel as though I should start by reiterating these simple truths about the narrative: Yes, Douglass did writ...more

Time for a reread! What I like more about Douglass than anything else at all is his clear thinking on subject peoples. He saw that the discrimination against blacks and women was from an identical stance. That white men were imposing a structure of equality and entitlement that placed them at the...more

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