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My Bondage and My Freedom (The Autobiographies #2)

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  7,655 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
This book is the deeply moving and stirring story of Frederick Douglass's life - as a slave, and as a free man.

Douglass wrote three autobiographies, of which the 1855 edition is the most detailed on his life as a slave. In it, the reader is not spared the fullest and most graphic description of the cruel and inhuman treatment of slaves, and the total disregard for them as

Hardcover, 528 pages
Published December 11th 2003 by Yale University Press (first published 1855)
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Jul 12, 2009 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robin Evans
Jun 27, 2008 Robin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing true story of a slave who fought to become a free man. Douglass tells his story in an unflinching manner, and you feel his pain. His vocabulary is impressive and makes it a difficult read at times. But totally worth the effort!
Aug 18, 2008 Sumeyya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE. Seriously, I mean it.
Recommended to Sumeyya by: professor
Shelves: favorites, re-reads
My Bondage and My Freedom is unparalleled in its complete scope of the utter destructive effects of slavery upon individuals and the larger group. There is NO other narrative, fiction or non, that describes the African American experience of bondage quite like this -- or in fact, at all. Other great African American thinkers (such as Du Bois or Washington) are able to examine the effects of slavery on society through observation; their accounts are mostly of African Americans' experience post-em ...more
Aug 17, 2009 Amber rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was wierd it was also disturbing bc it was gross. and also it would have been a lot shorter if he hadnt explained so much that which was all about nothing but it was alot better than Mountains beyond mountains.
Howard Olsen
Feb 06, 2010 Howard Olsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Frederick Douglass' story of his life as a slave, and his subsequent escape to the North. Douglass doesn't just describe the physical cruelty of southern slavery, although there's plenty of harrowing detail about that. He emphasizes the psychological pain suffered by slaves. We speak now of grinding poverty, but slaves like Douglass had to suffer through something even worse; the knowledge that their lives were not their own. This is brought home when Douglass' master - a man Douglass ha ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 14, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is a great book, by a great American. Skeptics looking at that statement might think, well sure you think that reading his own account. Except I've found autobiographies unintentionally revealing in fascinating ways. Within the last year I read autobiographies and memoirs by Ghandi, Dian Fossey and Booker T. Washington. The first book lessened my admiration and liking, the second made me absolutely hate the woman because of her own words, and the last left me ambivalent. And in the case of ...more
Jan 21, 2011 Thorin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a very heavy read. Frederick Douglass has an amazing gift of language and he uses it well in describing his story. I wish everyone would read this. It was at times so tragic that I could hardly stand it and I felt my heart breaking in my chest. Other times I was thrilled with his soaring words from excerpts of his speeches that were included in the book. Douglass' observations about the institution of slavery are absolutely spot on and really helped me understand much more about both the ...more
My Bondage My Freedom

Written By: Frederick Douglass

Published By: Public Domain (Amazon) Kindle Edition

My Bondage My Freedom

I have read in the past about Frederick Douglass the famed abolitionist, orator, statesman, and writer. However, until reading this autobiography I knew nothing about him before he became famous.

This autobiography was published in 1855 and thus covered approximately thirty-seven (37) of his early years. Being born a slave, Douglass could only approximate the year of his bir
Feb 11, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, memoir
This book should be required reading for all American students. Frederick Douglass' account of his years as a slave and the early years of his public advocacy as a freeman is among the most poignant and morally forceful works I've ever read. Highly recommend it to anyone.
Mar 01, 2012 Iris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
"Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with sails from every quarter of the habitable globe. Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath, stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the ...more

Professor John S. Wright My Bondage and My Freedom is Frederick Douglass's most accomplished rendering of his life on literary and philosophical terms. It is also his most acutely romanticist and 'transcendental autobiography'...can provide yet another chance for us readers to think more closely with a dedicated thinking man about how we might grapple with the complexly interwoven meanings of his life and our own. -- Review

Product Description

My Bondage and My Freedom, by Frederick Doug

Feb 18, 2013 Julius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slavery. Truly one of the darkest stains of American history. But through its black holds comes to us a shining example.
Mr. Frederick Douglas is, without a doubt, one of the greatest writers of all time. From slavery he arose to be counted among the distinguished, respected, and renowned. Yet it was not always so.
Douglas brings his skill as a writer and historian to bear in ‘My Bondage and My Freedom’ with such brilliant elegance as to enthrall the reader, and yet there is something so down to e
Nafis Faizi
Jan 02, 2013 Nafis Faizi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'The stunning document of intellectual transformation and human independence.' This caption on the back cover compelled me to think again, would this book or any book be able to do full justice to that kind of caption ! But I was happy to be proven wrong..
I have re read this book many a times for the past 3 years and I still see the transformation..I would gladly admit my obsession with some of these lines..which any Douglass fan would instantly relate with..

1. To his uncommon memory, then, we
Constantin Minov
Nov 19, 2015 Constantin Minov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-inspiring
This is the forth book on slavery which I have read after Roots , Malcolm X autobiography and general Washington's life. What really impressed me in this lecture is the ambition of Frederick to chose himself not to be a slave anymore and do something about this situation. He wasn't in a favorable place to make any choices and this demonstrates that we don't need to always seek the best time to do something because it will never come. Slaves were denied to learn to read and write in order to ensu ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book that should be mandatory reading in schools.

Frederick Douglass was a slave in the state of Maryland in a pre-Civil War United States. He was born and raised a slave under the most shocking and inhumane conditions imaginable. Fortunately Frederick was able to escape his life of slavery and became a prominent abolitionist and lived to see the death of slavery in America.

The book is both shocking and powerful with Frederick writing in a very straightforward, but still emo
Josh Ruiz
Feb 25, 2014 Josh Ruiz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good read regarding the struggles of a man born into slavery but struggling with several questions which are restricted by his condition of slavery. This book is a memoir of Frederick Douglass' time as a slave followed by his time as a free man. The description of the not only the physical conditions of slavery, but also the mental and emotional bondages of slavery are so well expressed and depicted and can be summed up as nothing more than hopelessness. Mr. Douglass does a great ...more
Must reading for any American who cares about history and what can history can teach us about the future. This book is more illuminating than any work of fiction I’ve read about the subject of American slavery. Douglass reaches across the centuries and addresses us personally. His passion ignites ours. His logic and his intelligence are incisive. He is relevant for our age, for even, if at this point in history the details of our conflicts and issues differ, our human natures do not. Who, in lig ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Jess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To go through so much suffering physically and mentally and to come out on top so strongly - while maintaining undeserving class is truly remarkable. THIS is what kids in school should be required to read.
Oct 02, 2014 janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Douglass anticipated Althusser and Foucault's work on subject formation and Agamben's Homo Sacer and concept of the camp in this work and improved upon Hegel at his own metaphor whether Douglass was aware of the work or not all while trying to appeal to white liberals to end slavery peacefully though he eventually came to see that slavery wouldn't end without violence. In reading about his adjustment to life after slavery in the north, I felt like I was reading the story of a new immigrant. He d ...more
Jul 12, 2015 Ridgewalker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You've likely heard the name Fredrick Douglass but can't recall much more than that. This autobiography details his brutal life growing up as a slave in the antebellum South and pulls no punches painting a dark picture of what the life of a slave and those who owned them was like. The literary style is excellent and typical of the period and all the more impressive understanding that Douglass was a self educated man, forbidden by law to learn to read and write while a slave. He comes across as u ...more
My Bondage and My Freedom reads like the best of historical fiction. Douglass' story is full of lively characters--even the minor figures are vividly drawn. The descriptions transport us instantly to a particular place and moment in time.

For the first eight years of his life Douglass was raised by his grandmother who had charge of the young slave children. They all shared a cabin with a vegetable garden and the children mostly ran free on the plantation. As he describes it he was "a spirited, j
Aug 08, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass

Note: MBAMF is a sequel of sorts to Mr. Douglass’ better known autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. I chose to read and review MBAMF as it is a more complete version of this inspiring American’s life story.

“I longed to have a future – a future with hope in it”.

“My Bondage and My Freedom” (published in 1855) is the second of three volumes of autobiography written by Frederick Douglas, a self-freed and sel
Jason Schneeberger
MY BONDAGE AND MY FREEDOM is a book that should be mandatory reading for every high school student. The lessons it has within its pages are filled with depth and honesty as it shows the reader a harrowing, brutal and heart breaking look at slavery.

Frederick Douglass was a slave for the first two decades of his life, but through determination, luck and maybe a little divine intervention, was able to escape the horrors of slavery. He dedicated his life then to helping with the abolition movement a
Casey Taylor
Dec 22, 2015 Casey Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic, not because of great literary style but because of essential content. Every American student ought to read the main body of Douglas's biography. Especially insightful at points about American Christianity in antebellum America.
Camille Dent (TheCamillion)

This is an absolutely beautifully-written historical narrative. History is not my strong point, but this book's eloquence captivated me. Admittedly, some scenes felt a bit overwritten, with entire paragraphs dedicated to food or room description. My rating would probably be higher if I had had the leisure to slowly work through all of that detail rather than having deadlines for reaching specific chapters for my class. I love Douglass' perspective and way of thinking, and I appreciate h
Jan 05, 2016 Szidonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read, more developed than his first memoir.
Mar 07, 2016 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All too many Americans, alas, have only a limited knowledge of our history. While our fellows may recognize a few names, how many can identify James Madison as the principal author of the Constitution—or the reasons which compelled him (and many others, including George Washington) to meet in Philadelphia to draft it, six years after the British surrender at Yorktown? (And how many can identify that battle as the last significant conflict of the Revolutionary War?)

And just as we don’t know the h
Jun 17, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2016 Skip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for every US citizen, as well as anyone who comes to make their home in the US. Douglass takes you into a time in the U.S. so woeful and so cruel as to be almost unimaginable. For instance, for clothes slaves were given hardly more than a potato sack to wear, all year around, winter and summer. Slaves were whipped for nothing more than having a look on their face that the slavekeepers did not like at that moment. They were fed just enough food, and horrid foo ...more
Nabil Shaikh
Oct 17, 2016 Nabil Shaikh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To understand slavery as both a lived experience and political system, one must study Douglass' works. This is not only a work of history, not only of autobiography, but also of political theory. I suggest reading My Bondage with that lens.

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Frederick Douglass (née Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey). Born as a slave in Maryland in 1818, he was to become a renowned abolitionist, editor and feminist. Escaping from slavery at age 20, he renamed himself Frederick Douglass and became an abolition agent. Douglass traveled widely, often at personal peril, to lecture against slavery. His first of three autobiographies, The Narrative of the ...more
More about Frederick Douglass...

Other Books in the Series

The Autobiographies (3 books)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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“The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it's privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it's humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?” 47 likes
“A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnamity.” 17 likes
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