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My Bondage and My Freedom (The Autobiographies #2)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  6,476 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Ex-slave Frederick Douglass's second autobiography-written after ten years of reflection following his legal emancipation in 1846 and his break with his mentor William Lloyd Garrison-catapulted Douglass into the international spotlight as the foremost spokesman for American blacks, both freed and slave. Written during his celebrated career as a speaker and newspaper editor ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1855)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 14, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Aug 18, 2008 Sumeyya rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
"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
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
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
Howard Olsen
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
“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
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
Megan Anderson
Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist, amazing orator, and spokesman for slaves and oppressed free black people in America. He grew up in the bondage of slavery but was able to escape and live as a freeman, afterwards fighting for the freedom of all and exposing the true horrors of slavery. My Bondage and My Freedom is one of three autobiographies written by Douglas. Of the three, this book gives the most detail of his life in slavery.

Even if you’re not a fan of reading historical non-fiction o
Josh Ruiz
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
True story of a slave.

True story of a slave.

This book has given me a whole new perception into the minds of the African Americans in this country in the past and the present. This is a compelling novel that was hard to put down. I have learned the mindset of today's African Americans. I think by remembering the past they help keep it from happening again but I also think by acting like they are still living it today they continue to make themselves victims today. This needs to be taught and disc
Robin Evans
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!
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.
John Daly
Frederick Douglass was an American Icon, perhaps the most famous black man in the United States in the 19th century. Born a slave, who escaped from slavery, he became famous as an abolitionist, a campaigner for women's rights, and a human rights advocate. Officially banned from education as a child (slave) he taught himself to read and write, becoming a fine writer and orator. This was his second book, published in 1855 when he was in his 30s, already famous. With the appearance of an autobiogra ...more
a fascinating, tenacious man with a penetrating mind. I wonder what he would say if he visited the present. Favorite quotes:
"everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody else."
"To the pampered love of ease, there is no resting place."
"Freedom of choice is the essence of all accountability."
"For men are always disposed to respect and defend rights when the victims of oppression stand up manfully for themselves."
many more in the book. Lots of things to think about. One particu
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
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
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in American History
Recommended to Czarny by: University History Professor
Shelves: american-history
Anyone interested in American history should read several of the slave narratives. Interpretations by historians have their merit. However, they tend to apply interpretative frame works that may or may not be on the mark. Two famously, silly interpretations from my time were those of Eugene Genovese (Gramsci Marxist) and Stanley Elkins (psychological)

However, anyone who attends to read American history on a regular basis needs to hear some of the slave stories told in their own words. There are
An excellent account of a man's life journey from absolute oppression to self-fulfillment. Unlike the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, this is not simply an abolitionist pamphlet detailing the facts of slavery, it's a fully realized autobiographical sketch and an excellent work of literature in its own right. We are treated, of course, to the harrowing accounts of life as a slave, climaxing with his year long residency with the slave master who is assigned to break him. I think, just ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Rd rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: classics
Unbelievable his ability to connect the wrongs of slavery to natural rights. Made all the right arguments for natural rights - not based on personal experience but on the natural order of things. His ability to detach his personal experience form what is right and wrong is simply unheard of today. A remarkable man that proves common sense and intelligence is not necessarily synonymous with educated.

His insight on how society was able to develop the slave mindset to keep slaves in check is quite

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

Mar 11, 2008 Christian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
An incredible story and insight into the personal and perennial fight for the freedom and escape from physical and mental slavery. Writing elequotenly from the hands and mind of a slave that was in a system that systematically was suppose to prevent niggers to read or write (or think), let alone write a bestseller book and an indelible page in history with his later abolitionist activties. Douglas is an incredible person and figure in American History and is also a remarkable writer and orator, ...more
Nafis Faizi
'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
Douglass revises / refashions the original account of his slave years into a more persuasive instrument, adding detail about specific incidents and establishing a clear through-line dedicated to highlighting the logical inconsistencies of slavery. He downplays the rhetoric in this respect, going for a plain-spoken simplicity in the way he makes these points (he describes stealing meat from the smokehouse without compunction, since he was just transferring it from one unit of the master’s propert ...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Rooker
We, generally, don't have slavery like we used to have in the 18th and 19th century in the US. But I believe we still DO have forms of INSTITUTIONAL slavery recognized and supported by the laws of this land. Is that a narcissistic statement making a false comparison? Perhaps, but as Douglass noted, his treatment by Auld in Baltimore was markedly better than in the field under Covey, but more time to read, think, and freedom from physical burdens, stirred in him only a greater fire to win his ind ...more
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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
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave / Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Autobiographies Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Collected Articles 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?” 41 likes
“A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnamity.” 16 likes
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