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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave / Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  945 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition combines the two most important African American slave narratives into one volume.
Frederick Douglass's Narrative, first published in 1845, is an enlightening and incendiary text. Born into slavery, Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumani
Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Modern Library
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Frederick Douglass hardly needs to be defended, right? In case you haven't read this, and think it might be speechy or difficult to read, it's not. Douglass is smart enough to know he doesn't have to tell you how to feel; his story is plenty gripping enough without editorializing. And while he's an eloquent writer, and will occasionally engage in rhetoric, the thing's only 100 pages long; it flies. (Besides, he earns his rhetoric. Remember that hundreds of slave narratives were written. Douglass ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I generally find writing from this time period difficult to read. Henry David Thoreau, for example, or Herman Melville, are like reading through oatmeal for me. I have long meant to read this particular book (really a long essay, weighting in at less than 75 pages), so yesterday, I did.

A few months ago in New York an eighth grade girl read this book and wrote an essay about how Douglas's words were still relevant to her experiences in a large, poor, and urban middle school. The young lady in que
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
For years I have devoured anything I could about the U.S. Civil War and the sociology of the antebellum nation. I can't account for how I'm only just now reading these books.

Frederick Douglass's oratory was one of the most persuasive forces for emancipation, as well as for the enlistment of black soldiers in the Union army, and is a beautiful thing to read (Northerners couldn't believe he had ever been a slave). I thus had high expectations for the account of his life from his own pen, and was n
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
These two books are sometimes very hard going, but essential reading for Americans. We probably tend to think about slavery very much in the abstract, when we even think about it, but these narratives make it painfully palpable and very human. In a way complementary to Akhil Reed Amar’s brilliant description of the way slavery thoroughly corrupted the American political system (in his America’s Constitution), these books reveal in detail the thoroughgoing and extraordinary moral perversion slave ...more
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
These are the true accounts of the hardships of two individuals and their plights within the institution of slavery during the 1800's in the United States. Narrating their own stories, they also give a deep and thorough analysis of the "peculiar institution." The benefit of the two narratives being presented together gives a reader a well-rounded observation of the true nature of slavery in the U.S. With one account being from a man, and the other from a woman you learn of both of their great su ...more
Glenda Nelms
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
both of these narratives were deep, emotional, and powerful. Details on life during the Slavery period.
Junior M
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
The first half of the anthology is, "The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave". Within this slave narrative, Douglass tells his life when he was enslaved. My honest opinion about this book is that it is interesting. I do recommend this book for those readers who find slavery an interesting topic in American history or those who have an interest in learning about equality or just believes in equal rights. About this book i really disliked the pace of the book; in my opini ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
What do I think about The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? This book was sensational because of douglas's emotional stories. Douglass does an amazing showing, not telling, the readers about his miserable life as a slave and the tough tribulations he had to overcome to obtain the freedom he deserved. In his story, Douglass does a fantastic job in describing to the readers the importance of education in his life and in the present society. Douglass also includes his own thoughts in th ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this book would be like Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass. They shared some similarities but I actually found this book more interesting. Seeing the mental abuse Jacobs went through with Mr. Flint her slave master, it made me eager to see what would happen next. Jacobs got in a lot of trouble with Mr.Flint and running away only made things worse. What was interesting was that she was half white. She had children with a white man and had to figure out how to get hersel ...more
Janet Gardner
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Douglass does not spare (Though neither does he dwell unnecessarily on) the harsher aspects of slave life—the routine beatings and even killings, the casual (for the owners) separations of families and beloved friends, the (often successful) attempt to keep the enslaved in a state of ignorance so deep that many cannot imagine another way. As with Harriet Jacobs, I was impressed by the literary skill of a man who risked the lash merely to be seen with a newspaper in his hand. It’s hard for me to ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The two works in this compendium complement each other fantastically, and both are unbelievable stories that simply must be read and experienced. Perhaps the most fascinating elements of these narratives to me were the discrepancies in attitude that both authors note regarding religious slave owners, and the differences that exist between religion and Christianity, and how those differences manifested themselves in the people of the north and south. To say that there are parallels in contemporar ...more
Lynn Green
I wish I could say that Frederick Douglass' autobiography deals with a problem that has long since passed; however, I can see parallels to our own time particularly in the way that religion, specifically Christianity, was used as justification for injustice and oppression. Many of Douglass' owners were "devout" Christians, yet they would not hesitate to put men and women under the lash. They even have scripture that backed them up. For example see Luke 12: 47 "The servant who knows his master's ...more
This autobiography reveals what slavery was like for black women. Harriet Jacobs endured sexual abuse and the loss of the two children she bore by a white man before she escaped to New York. "I do earnestly desire to arouse the women of the North to a realizing sense of the condition of the two millions of women in the South, still in bondage, still suffering what I suffered and most of them far worse."
Meredith Olivia
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very quick, but nevertheless important, read that does not withhold the horrors of slavery and reveals the ugly truth to American history.
Douglass writes in such a way that makes the reader feel the emotion and carefully constructed thought behind each word. This is a novel that everyone should read so they might get a small glimpse into the barbarity of slave-holding.
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once again, humans are terrible beings, they did horrible thing but seperating men because of his skin color? That's insane and stupid. I felt sorry for all the black people who lived in those days, their test was the one of the hardest.
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A classic piece of Americana and one I wouldn't have gotten around to if Shannon hadn't brought it home from college and abandoned it here. Two amazing accountings of slave experiences, both male and female, that are both humbling and inspiring, both as literature and as human stories.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brilliantly written account that takes you back in time. Truly a classic.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Both of these works were awe-inspiring, both giving different perspectives to the lives of slaves. A definite recommendation for anyone interested in that part of history.
Kenny Williams
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Douglass is a clear written and his narrative doesn't need to be defended. This book provides a real glimpse into a part of American history that can feel distant or ignored today.
Assad Alam
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
The autobiography, Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, was personally a pain to read, but worth reading. The book is based on the life of a slave named Douglass. He faces many hardships in his life, and overcomes them by being cunning and secretive to the people around him. Douglass has the challenge of facing slavery head on with no support, and he makes it out of slavery alive with from the courage and determination from his yearning to become a free man. The world today may see this ...more
Briah Charles
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:
Reading this narrative, it had it's ups and downs while reading. Some moments there was a connection with the characters of the book, where one can feel the pain a slave did, when they were whipped just because the slaveholders felt like getting violent. But the major downs of the narrative was that, some points of the book where long and drawn out where the focus and concentration began to decrease. It is a very informative narrative text, because wh
Laury A
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I believe that NARRATIVE IN THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, AN AMERICAN SLAVE was an okay book. Even though it was a very short book, I believe that Douglass did an okay way of explaining how he lived his life during the times of slavery. He explains to his audience how he was taken away from his mother at a very young age so he was not attached to her. I believe that Douglass could have done a better job explaining how he was treated, what he did about it, and how he overcame everything. He wa ...more
Sep 24, 2013 added it
Somehow, I’ve managed to never read Frederick Douglass’s classic account of slavery and freedom, in school or otherwise. It’s a pretty impressive story, if for no other reason than that one senses the greatness of the author. Having read his story, it makes sense that we give Douglass the air of a kind of second generation of Founding Fathers, along with Lincoln. The man speaks in ideals and holds onto his shred of optimism with a death grip.

What I didn’t appreciate until after I finished Jacob
J. Dolan
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The first thing about Narrative to hit me in my emotional breadbasket was Mr. Douglass recalling that he'd only met his mother a couple of times, the last one at the age of ten if my memory serves. She had the misfortune of living a slave on a plantation miles away.
The second passage to move me, following the author's escape from slavery, was his process of adjusting from seeing himself as no more than a piece of someone else's property to his new status as a free man, if (thanks to the Fugitive
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
`Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself', by Harriet Ann Jacobs, is a compelling read that provided me with a better understanding of the female slave experience in 19th century America.

Written under the pseudonym of Linda Brent, this narrative detailed the story of Jacobs from her childhood in the South, to her eventual escape to New York and reconciliation with her children.

Jacobs writes in a strong, clear voice from both a feminist and slave perspective. Her narrative is com
Jenaya A.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass I found this book to be very emotional and motivational. From the harsh brutality his Aunt endured and Douglass witnessing that at a young age and to him actually seeing the unfairness of Mr.Auld not letting his wife teach Douglass how to read only enables him to want to proseper in life. I actually enjoyed the, book but the vocabulary kind of confused me a bit. Also, what made the book emotional for me was all the struggles Douglass had to go t ...more
Jean Dertelus
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is was a good book you would feel like your been through what both characters been through. Through the pain, sadness, and hunger. As you read this book Frederick is the first person you would read about. My favorite part when we reading this book is when Douglass starts to learn how to read and build his motivation to know what slavery meant and have his freedom. I believe that's the turning point of this story because without Douglass knowing have to read the book itself wouldn't been out ...more
Andres Magra
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: libros
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was a book that I found slightly interesting. The book tells the story of Frederick Douglass, a slave who becomes victim to the cruel accepted practices of his society. The only reason I liked the book was because it told a dramatic story. While the content of the narrative was interesting, it lacked the ability to captivate me completely because Douglass's coarse use of language. By that I mean that his language was somewhat obfuscating for me. I ...more
Wada King
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas is a good book. Douglass brings you the world of slavery and gives you precise descriptions of its horror. In the book Douglass tells you how he went through slavery without a mother or any family. At first he was very fortunate to have a mistress who was kind to him. Even though she did not fully teach him how to read but she built a foundation for him to fall on, and he used it to teach himself how to read and then write. Douglass got that inspira ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
I enjoy many novels that are filled with fantasy and magic. This book was one that had neither of those. The first book in this anthology is The Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American slave.. It is a anthology that deals with the issues of racial prejudice and inequalities. It is the story of a mulattos search for equality and acceptance. This part of the book had very riveting language but it was not rally me style. I would recommend it to people who really are inquisitive of ...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...
“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hatethe corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial, and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.” 22 likes
“She had been the source of all his wealth; she had peopled his plantation with slaves; she had become a great grandmother in his service. She had rocked him in infancy, attended him in childhood, served him through life, and at his death wiped from his icy brow the cold death-sweat, and closed his eyes forever. She was nevertheless left a slave—a slave for life—a slave in the hands of strangers; and in their hands she saw her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, divided, like so many sheep, without being gratified with the small privilege of a single word, as to their or her own destiny.” 0 likes
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