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Up from Slavery: an autobiography

Booker T. Washington

Book Overview: 

Up From Slavery is the autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his slow and steady rise from a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties and obstacles he overcame to get an education at the new Hampton University, to his work establishing vocational schools—most notably the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama—to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful, marketable skills and work to pull themselves, as a race, up by the bootstraps. He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and philanthropists who helped in educating blacks and native Americans. He describes his efforts to instill manners, breeding, health and a feeling of dignity to students.
(Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I had ever seen. The sight of it seemed to give me new life. I felt that a new kind of existence had now begun—that life would now have a new meaning. I felt that I had reached the promised land, and I resolved to let no obstacle prevent me from putting forth the highest effort to fit myself to accomplish the most good in the world.

As soon as possible after reaching the grounds of the Hampton Institute, I presented myself before the head teacher for an assignment to a class. Having been so long without proper food, a bath, and a change of clothing, I did not, of course, make a very favourable impression upon her, and I could see at once that there were doubts in her mind about the wisdom of admitting me as a student. I felt that I could hardly blame her if she got the idea that I was a worthless loafer or tramp. For some time she did not refuse to admit me, neither did she decide in my favour, and I continued to linger about her, and to impress her in a. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Booker T. Washington’s auto-biography pretty much disgusted me. I use such a strong word here because I was disturbed so many times throughout the read. I just can’t bring myself to feel anything other than pure disgust as a result of reading what he referred to as his ‘auto-biography’. This was...more

On the one hand, this is a really interesting look at the culture of the South during and just after the period of Reconstruction; on the other hand, however, Washington's view of that culture is certainly affected by his wholehearted endorsement of the American Dream, the Horatio Alger myth, and...more

It's interesting that with all the emphasis on "multiculturalism" when I was going through school, we never actually read any first source books like "Up From Slavery." However, I can see why some modern educators might want to avoid assigning this book: it does violence to a certain brand of phi...more

I think Up From Slavery is one of the most amazing autobiographies ever written. Booker T. Washington's autobiography was essential to creating the New Negro, the Black American who emerged today. I think Up From Slavery is a humorous and motivational work of strength, determination and persevera...more

Booker T Washington was a very admirable figure, but his book is pretty dull. Besides, his silences about major issues, such as racial segregation, forced disenfranchisment, violence against black people (lynchings), and violent racial uprisings in the south at this time, are, I think, loud silen...more

I enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacted to the book! I am of the 21st century.

This is an autobiography and it is published long ago - in 1900! Booker T. Washington lived from 1856-19...more

This second ghost-written autobiography of Booker T. Washington presents the carefully crafted public persona that he wanted. Beneath the mask of a humble, saintly,acetic and patient Negro is a power-hungry, self-aggrandizing man. Washington played his cards close to the vest and was sure that he...more

No matter how modestly this man tries to tell his story, the facts of his life shine with the luster of greatness. Booker T. Washington spent his early childhood as a slave on a plantation in the south. After the Emancipation Proclamation was read from the porch steps of the “Big House,” Booker’s...more

Booker T. Washington: once a slave, beat down and told he could do nothing, accomplish nothing; now an example to all men, white and colored, raised above others. Why? Hard work and a desire to do good in this world. He accomplished more than a lot, from getting into a school by sweeping and clea...more

While I admired Booker T. Washington’s ability to see the world so optimistically in his autobiography “Up from Slavery”, it would be a lie to say that I was so greatly impressed by Washington’s story that I would recommend its placement on school reading lists. Considering the plethora of fascin...more

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