Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Up from Slavery: An Autobiography” as Want to Read:
Up from Slavery: An Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Up from Slavery: An Autobiography

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,781 Ratings  ·  663 Reviews
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

In Up from Slavery, Washington recounts the story of his life—from slave to educator. The early sections deal with his upbringing as a slave and his efforts to get an education. Washington details his transition from student to teacher, and outlines his own development as an educator and foun
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 11th 1999 by Modern Library (first published January 1st 1900)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Skylar Burris
Jul 28, 2008 Skylar Burris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 philosophy because of its profound anti-victimization message and its focus on individual responsibility, the power of merit to supplant racism, and the necessity of climbing gradually rather than expecting ...more
Scott Rhee
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 fascinating slave narratives out there, being reprinted and regaining popularity thanks to award-winning films like “Django Unchained” and “12 Years a Slave”, Washington’s memoir about his financial and politi ...more
David
May 16, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 never offended white people from the North or the South. He curried favor with captains of industry such as Andrew Carnegie and Roger Baldwin who eventually set him up for life. Nevertheless, Washington ...more
Christy
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 capitalism. While it's important to acknowledge the value of hard work and perseverance and while Washington himself did a great deal of good for African Americans, working for years to develop the Tusk ...more
Sierra Abrams
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 cleaning a room, to teaching at a night school, to starting Tuskegee, to speaking at huge events at which no black man had ever spoken. He met great men, did great things, built a great community, and loved ...more
Alieda
May 06, 2016 Alieda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 silences which beg the question of who his audience is intended to be. Rather than as an honest autobiography, I read this book as an overt plea to the upper class whites, for funding for his school. It was m ...more
Shanae
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 perseverance.
Evelyn
Booker T. Washington is officially added to my list of favorite people. His positive and nonjudgmental attitude is exemplary in so many ways. His way of stepping back, seeing a situation for what it really is, unprejudiced by pride or excessive passion, is truly amazing. His insights are so valuable that I think this book should be required reading for everyone.

Washington was born a slave, and was about 8 years old when Emancipation came. Life was little better afterwards, though, for a while. H
...more
Tryn
Mar 05, 2011 Tryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ambitions to gain an education and make something of himself propelled him through every obstacle to his goal. Booker T. Washington was a tireless promoter of education for his race and of Tuskegee, the ...more
Sheryl Tribble
Mar 03, 2015 Sheryl Tribble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It amazes me how many people *still* blow off Booker T. Washington as an "Uncle Tom." There is no doubt in my mind that when Washington said, "I pity from the bottom of my heart any individual who is so unfortunate as to get into the habit of holding race prejudice," he knew full well that the primary goal of a racist is to feel superior to someone, and that therefore his pity would offend them more than anything else he could offer or say.

Or how about this one -- "In my contact with people I fi
...more
Q
Feb 18, 2013 Q rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible person...definitely in my top 5 people I'd most like to have dinner with (or more correctly, with whom I'd like to have dinner). He was living proof that a person's worth matters little where you start out in life and much more to do with how you choose to live that life.

For a man born into slavery in the South to have such a lifelong approach to equality for ALL people is amazing. Some of the bigotry and hate Booker T. Washington must have endured while growing up and getting educate
...more
Abby
Honesty: If I was not currently in rural Australia with only an e-reader and Project Gutenberg, I wouldn't have picked this up.

That said, I'm not sure why this narrative is not wildly popular with modern audiences. Maybe it just needs to be put on a new shelf, since it reads like one of the better-selling self-help titles: Self Sufficiency 101, Starting Your Dream NonProf/Business/Institute of Higher Education, The Key to Financial Success, The Social Benefits of Dental Hygiene, The Power of Opt
...more
Vicky Kaseorg
Mar 05, 2014 Vicky Kaseorg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time. Refusing to accept his struggles and poverty and humble beginning as a slave to prevent him form leading a worthy life, this incredible man excels in all he does. If I were feeling sorry for myself and in a pity party, this book would snap me out of it with a resounding smack. Love the message that hard work, perseverance, Godliness, righteousness, and kindness can really change the world.
Lisa
Jan 28, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fic, history, 2016
This book made me feel like a bit of an asshole.I'm a frequent whiner, my favourite topics usually being how other people are annoying and not getting enough reading time. Booker T. Washington, despite having much more justified complaints than mine, was most definitely not a whiner.

Born into slavery - exactly when he doesn't know - following its abolition, and despite a lack of any money and sometimes even a roof over his head, Washington would not only pursue the education he fiercely wanted b
...more
Mykie
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 less of an auto-biography and more of a documentation that served two purposes:

1.) To describe how he created the Tuskegee Institute
2.) To thank all of the white folks who assisted in the above- referenc
...more
Laine
May 23, 2008 Laine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any person old enough to read
Recommended to Laine by: it was one that I read in high school and wanted to reaquaint my
I learned (what I had forgotten about this book) is that Booker never had trouble trusting that people would help him. He placed his trust in God and by doing so he knew that when the money was needed to build up the school at Tuskegee that it would be there. And it was and mostly from white people. it seems that they were more tolerant of the black population then that some are now. The school members worked as well as went to school and all succeeded in life. We need more of this kind of drive ...more
Rachelle
Sep 17, 2013 Rachelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the experiences from the life of Booker T. Washington as told by himself. He began life as a slave and became a great political leader and speaker. Despite his many great speeches he considers his greatest work to be that which he accomplished in behalf of the Tuskegee school which he founded and played a vital role in throughout his life. Although I read some criticism of this man... I believe that his moral character is something to be admired and to emulate. My favorite quotes fr ...more
Abby
"No man whose vision is bounded by colour can come into contact with what is honest and best in the world."

A moving and important American autobiography. I could not help but feel disheartened by what little progress white Americans seem to have made in overcoming racist sentiments. The rise of Trump is so many steps backward from the just and equal nation that Booker Washington fought to establish.
A Great Book Study
I so do honor and respect this man. America needs more leaders like Booker T. Washington.

My review: http://greatbookstudy.blogspot.com/20...
Michael
Oct 23, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A beautiful book by a remarkable man. You should read it too....mgc
rachel
It's easy to see why Booker T. Washington is criticized for his questionably cheery flattery of Southern whites. At first I thought this was an earlier "let no man pull you so low as to hate him," which is an admirable personal mindset. But as a civic representative of people who've been released from decades of one type of oppression into another, it runs roughshod over some very valid feelings.

Other reviewers here have suggested that Washington's "accommodationism" (and the entirety of this b
...more
Josephalewis
Jul 11, 2014 Josephalewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Of my father I know even less than of my mother. I do not even know his name. i have heard reports to the effect that he was a white man who lived on one of the nearby plantations... But i do not find especial fault with him. He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.' p2
"The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom engaged in study made a deep impression upon me, and I had the feeling that to get int
...more
Rachael Szydlowski
The first of the nonfiction books I read was Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery. Before reading this text, I knew very little about the accomplishments of Booker T. Washington, only being familiar with the name–knowing he was important to African American and US history, but not why.

The short text (166 pages in total) highlights Washington’s childhood days, first as a slave and then as a struggling family in West Virginia. The book next delves into his time at Hampton Institute, where he wen
...more
La pointe de la sauce
'I have learnt that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.'

An inspirational message of owning ones destiny through hard work in the interest of human brotherhood. I've read a few reviews which have cast Booker T as an 'Uncle Tom' or a racist appeaser, I fail to see any such message in his anti-victimization stance. His whole ethos is based on a man making his way in this world by the work of his hands, rising above o
...more
The Thousander Club
Up from Slavery is one of the most important books I've ever read on education. Although it's not its sole focus, Booker T. Washington provides clear and poignant direction on how to educate, including what is important and what is not. The debate, like most things, continues today and in a form not terribly different than what it looked like during Washington's day. In addition to the excellent commentary on education, Up from Slavery presents a leadership philosophy for African Americans I fin ...more
Angela Blount
“I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”

In a nutshell: An extraordinary man recounts his extraordinary life, with an eye to extending his accomplishments ever further.

The context: This book was written in 1901, 35 years into the post American civil-war reformation period and 20 years after Booker T. Washington (then just 25 years old) founded the Tuskegee
...more
Mad Dog
Feb 09, 2011 Mad Dog rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody as essential reading
Shelves: book-club
I am glad that I read this because BTW is a great man with a 'point of view' (looking for the good in people, looking for common ground, establishing one's value through productivity, dedication to serving others) that is refreshing. I think that he took things too far in that he was blind to some of the negative in people and he essentially believed in 'all work and no play'. But I still find him to be an inspirational man whose story is as essential to U.S. History as the stories of George Wa ...more
Christine
Feb 25, 2016 Christine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sudents
Recommended to Christine by: Teacher
Freed during the Reconstruction Period, former slave Booker T. Washington desired to attain a position of importance in a culture struggling to adjust to the emancipation of blacks. In his autobiography Up from Slavery, Washington continually stressed his idea that, “… there is something in human nature which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what colour of skin merit is found.” After he found success for himself through hard work and, often, physical labor, ...more
Kim
Jan 11, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Booker T. Washington was born a slave around the year 1858-59. Slaves were set free in 1867 when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation address. Booker then moved to West Virginia with his mother and two brothers and sister, they met up with his father. He worked as a salt grinder, worked in the mines and then as a laborer for a white lady. His goal was to get an education, he saved up to go to Hampton, working days while going to school at night. He then went back to Malden, We ...more
SJ Loria
Jun 20, 2011 SJ Loria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Booker T Washington doesn't get quite the respect as Frederick Douglass or other prominent abolitionist movement leaders he does have some valid things to say and a pretty compelling story. His legacy is contriversial, as he advocated working for whites and trade school as the way to structure the black community after the abolition of slavery. Washington was big on the value of manual labor, and felt that the ability to work with one own hand's made one a stronger person and it was not ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Well Trained Mind...: #13 - Up From Slavery 4 6 Jul 14, 2015 08:03PM  
A wealth of current reading 1 7 Jul 08, 2015 03:03PM  
Non-Fiction Enthu...: February Group Read 1 2 13 Feb 11, 2015 08:26PM  
  • The Souls of Black Folk
  • My Bondage and My Freedom
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  • Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America
  • Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself
  • Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro
  • The American Language
  • Why We Can't Wait
  • Selected Essays
  • Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
  • The Education of Henry Adams
  • The Strange Career of Jim Crow
  • A Preface to Morals
  • Nigger
84278
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, orator, author and the dominant leader of the African-American community nationwide from the 1890s to his death. Born to slavery and freed by the Civil War in 1865, as a young man, became head of the new Tuskegee Institute, then a teachers' college for blacks. It became his base of operations. His "Atlanta Exposition" speech of 1895 appealed t ...more
More about Booker T. Washington...

Share This Book



“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” 443 likes
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” 273 likes
More quotes…