Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass” as Want to Read:
Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass (The Autobiographies #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  74,338 Ratings  ·  3,159 Reviews
The "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" is regarded as one of the most important accounts of slavery in 19th century America that has ever been written. The story accounts Douglass's life from early childhood growing up on a Southern Plantation to his eventual escape to the North. Douglass tells of his life with various owners, his struggle to learn and teach oth ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Digireads.com (first published 1845)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Amani Clark-Bey This is a great book but he should of gave some more information on some specific topics. They should of gave more information on how they whipped…moreThis is a great book but he should of gave some more information on some specific topics. They should of gave more information on how they whipped him. People need to know what he truly went through. He just didn't become a leader over day. They need some more information on here. Let's just give some more information on this topic.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Stephen
Thank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.

How often is it that you can honestly say that you’ll never be the same after reading a book? Well, this life story of a singular individual has changed me....irrevocably. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude to Mr. Douglass for that
...more
Kaeleigh Forsyth
I love the review on here that says, "This book was kind of hard to get into because of the high level words used in this book." In the year 2012 a grown adult/product of the USA's educational system finds the vocabulary of a self-taught 19th century slave beyond their comprehension, ahahahahahahaha God Bless America.
Bookdragon Sean
"Once you learn to read you will forever be free"

This is powerful, so, so powerful. This is a remarkable achievement considering it is written in such a straight forward manner by a man who taught himself to read. There is no embellishment or dramatic imagery here; it is simple, straightforward, harrowing, fact. It is such a strong narrative that I’m extremely glad I read. I recommend it to everyone.

Moreover, to emphasise the sheer depravity, and brutality, these slaves were subjected to, th
...more
Petra X
Time for a reread! What I like more about Douglass than anything else at all is his clear thinking on subject peoples. He saw that the discrimination against blacks and women was from an identical stance. That white men were imposing a structure of equality and entitlement that placed them at the top, and everyone else far beneath them. Indeed America's much lauded equality didn't apply to Blacks as they property not people. It hasn't changed much in very many countries, if not all, but you can ...more
Richard
This book is not an important historical document to be placed in a glass case and venerated during Black History Month. It should be read by all, regardless of race or creed, as a warning against prejudice and oppression.

Douglass' description of the cruel conditions of slavery is mind-searing. His analysis of the system which fostered and condoned it shows amazing depth. He shows that slavery made wretched the lives of the victims but that it also warped the perpetrators, and created a regime i
...more
Jason Koivu
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful, eloquent and utterly moving, especially considering it was written by a man who taught himself how to read and write while a slave.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass regrettably does not go into detail regarding the particulars of Douglass' escape to freedom. Having written his memoirs while slavery was still ongoing, he was afraid to reveal his methods for fear of endangering the lives of those who assisted him, as well as potentially shutting down an avenue of escape fo
...more
Cheryl
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those wanting a glimpse of american history through slave narratives
"…My copybook was the board-fence, brick wall, and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to write."As with Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, I feel as though I should start by reiterating these simple truths about the narrative: Yes, Douglass did write this book himself; No, he was not against Christianity, only a staunch opponent of hypocritical Christians; No, he did not promote hatred of man - his hate was of slavery.
The hearth is desolate. The
...more
James
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-fiction
Book Review
I first read the biographical introduction about Frederick Douglass and learned many new things. I knew he wrote a few autobiographies, but I never knew that he spanned them over 40 years of writing and that he lived for close to 80 years. I then read both the preface by Garrison and the letter to Douglas. They were excellent introductions to the narrative by Frederick Douglass. They set the mood and get you ready to experience a whole new set of emotions when you read Douglass’ L
...more
Raya راية
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"ليس مُهمٍّا تحت أي اصطلاح مزيّف تتستّر العبودية، فإنها لا تزال بشعة وبها ميل طبيعي حتى للعصف بكل مَلَكة نبيلة عند الإنسان."
-دانيال أوكونيل



لم ولن أفهم أو أستوعب كيف يمكن لإنسان أن يقوم باستعباد وإذلال إنسان آخر، لا لشيء سوى أنه مختلف عنه باللون أو بالعِرق أو بالدين أو باللغة! من الذي قرر بأن الإنسان البيض يمتلك أفضلية عن الإنسان الأسود! لقد جاء الأبيض من آخر العالم، وغزا أفريقيا بحجة نشر الحضارة والتقدّم ونشر تعاليم الدين، لكنه بالحقيقة جاء لينهب ثروات هذه القارة الغنّية ويلسب شعبها حرّيته!

ن
...more
Diane
What a powerful piece of writing this is. Slavery is such an ugly part of American history, and this narrative tells all of the ordeals that Frederick Douglass had to overcome, including whippings, beatings, hunger, tyrannical masters, backbreaking labor, and horrible living conditions.

Douglass was born in Maryland in 1818, but even that year is a guess because slaves were generally not allowed to know their birthdate. He knew little of his mother because the master sent her away, and then she
...more
Aubrey
4.5/5

Unlike many on this site, if one may judge from the reviews and most popular tags of this work, I did not encounter this in school. This is unfortunate, as exposure to this at a younger age may have made my frame of references less solidified, Moby Dick over here and slavery narratives of there and all the usual sorts of aborted cross-reference and false literary linearity. These days, I am not as suspect to being fenced in by required reading in academia, but there are some still some sick
...more
Paul
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
This is a very brief first volume of a three volume autobiography. It is moving, powerful and horrific portrait of slavery in one of the so-called more humane slave states in the 1820s and 1830s.
It is an important historical document, but is also much more than that; published in 1845 it opened a window for the general public in the north who knew little about the inner workings of slavery. Douglass does not know his birthday, who his father was and was separated from his mother very early in l
...more
Zanna
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zanna by: Paul
Houston A Baker Jr introduces Douglass' narrative by positioning it within a rich tradition in two senses. Firstly, many former slaves published accounts of their experiences - a fact that I was not aware of and that Baker says has been poorly acknowledged, while the work of white abolitionists has been much-celebrated. Secondly, the literary interests of the period, absorbed by Douglass in his forbidden, covert, voracious reading, are expressed through the lyrical and dramatic qualities of his ...more
Alan
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most amazing pieces of writing I have ever read. Unfortunately, I grew up in Texas--a fact for which I have only recently forgiven my parents, with difficulty--and therefore was never forced to read anything more incendiary than To Kill a Mocking Bird or Uncle Tom's Cabin. Digression: Also, I had a creationist biology teacher. But yes. We didn't read any firsthand slave narratives. I don't even remember learning about the civil rights movements. Maybe we did. All of this jibba ...more
Craig Johnson
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: calendar designers
Not bad for a guy who taught himself to write while his masters weren't looking. Even the smallest knowledge of Douglass' post-slave life makes you wonder at the title: Who would have the gall to chain him up, of all men? The facts of slavery are still frightening after all this time. What makes it scarier is that Douglass was in Maryland, the Northernmost of southern states. Evidentally, the farther south you were the worse it was, so if this happened in Maryland, I don't like to think about Lo ...more
Douglas Wilson
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written & moving.
Jim
Apr 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very short & to the point, Douglass paints the picture of being a slave better than any other book I've read on the subject. His first hand account blows away 'Roots' or even the 'Confessions of Nat Turner' with its simple, understated prose. Huge thanks to Nancy, a friend here on GR, that recommended & gave me the book.

Why would a man remain in slavery when there was any chance of escape? This is a question I've always wondered about. He tells us. The courage & determination that it
...more
Shaun
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book several times but especially enjoyed re-reading it with my son as we study this era in American history. It's a great narrative for anyone who wants to get a sense of the history and injustice of slavery from a slave's perspective.
Ken Moten
"Reader! are you with the man-stealers in sympathy and purpose, or on the side of their down-trodden victims? If with the former, then are you the foe of God and man. If with the latter, what are you prepared to do and dare in their behalf? Be faithful, be vigilant, be untiring in your efforts to break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free." - from the Preface by William Lloyd Garrison.

This autobiography is easily the most well-known and taught of any slave narrative in the United States. I
...more
Erika
My history professor assigned 4 books to read over the semester. I found the first 2 to be really boring, I did not enjoy them at all. Probably it had to do with the fact that my subconscious tends to hate everything that I'm forced to do. Like for example, if I'm not allowed to be absent from a class more than 3 times during the semester without failing it, I hate going, and feel the pressure everyday of having to drag myself to go to that particular class. On the contrary, if the teacher didn' ...more
Angela Blount
Candid, brutal, and entrancingly descriptive. This book is an absolute must for anyone seeking a better understanding of the “institution” of slavery in America.

Douglass' prose is the literary equivalent of a velvet-sheathed hammer—smoothly elegant, yet incredibly powerful. He had a real gift for drawing analogies and eliciting deeper comprehension. This very personal account is difficult to ingest, but even more difficult to put down.

It’s somewhat tempting to compare Douglass’ narrative to Book
...more
Dale
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An American Classic

4.5 hours
Narrated by Jonathan Reese
Published by Tantor Media


Frederick Douglass wrote three autobiographies during his life. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave , written in 1845, is, perhaps, the most famous. The others were My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, revised 1892).

Written as a response to those that doubted that such an intelligent and well-spoken man could have ever been a slave, Narrative
...more
Erica
I became interested in Frederick Douglass in high school, for the most shallow of reasons: I saw his picture in my history book and thought he was awfully cute.
Since then, he's popped up here and there throughout my life and whatever I learn about him is fascinating.
This narrative is no different, he seems to have been an inspiring, strong, thoughtful, analytical person.
It's time I start reading more of his work.
Billy McCoy
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellent and inspiring book, one cannot praise it too much; however as an objective and unbiased reader one wonders how much of this story is exaggerated to make Douglass' point about the horrors of slavery.
Amber
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“…my long crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me…” -- Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave

I went into the B&N bookstore to escape the hot Atlanta sun, and while browsing I saw
...more
Jesse
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: him, us
I know that most Goodreads members probably have their minds made up about slavery by now, but I had forgotten until recently what a remarkable piece of literature this is:

"On the one hand, there stood slavery, a stern reality,
glaring frightfully upon us,- its robes already crimsoned
with the blood of millions, and even now feasting itself
greedily upon our own flesh. On the other hand,
away back in the dim distance, under the flickering light
of the north star, behind some craggy hill or snow-cove
...more
Dan
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This summer while talking among friends I had the realization that I have read almost no african american literature. I knew I had deficiencies in female authors and have been trying to balance things out better this year. How is it that I can think of myself as well read with these two (and who knows how many more) weak spots?

So I decided to start near the beginning with Frederick Douglass and I am glad I did as it was a fairly eye opening look into the life of a slave. I think we all get the g
...more
Eugenie
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating true story that kept me enthralled from start to finish. I could go right back to the beginning and read it all through over again with superlative ease.6 stars
Amy
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s only 128 pages, and it’s one of the most powerful and important works of American literature that you’ve probably never read. It was very instrumental in the abolitionist movement that eventually led to the US Civil War and the eradication of slavery. It should be required high school reading even though it’s harsh, violent, and contains coarse language--really BECAUSE it’s harsh, violent, and contains coarse language.

Sometimes history needs to be ex
...more
Marcus Chatman
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book, though historic, to be a modern marvel. I find not only the man himself but even more so the writings of Frederick Douglass to be totally FASCINATING! This man's ability to describe the various monstrosities encountered throughout his journey in such a beautiful, articulate, and eloquent way is utterly GENIUS! In reading this timeless masterpiece I discovered that this man bears the unmatched, undisputed spirit of a champion; the undying essence of a true warrior; that I'm sur ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 1 2 Mar 19, 2018 12:29PM  
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 1 1 Mar 18, 2018 08:28PM  
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 1 1 Mar 18, 2018 08:27PM  
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 1 1 Mar 18, 2018 08:02PM  
Douglass' abolitionism sexist? 14 104 Feb 08, 2018 04:17PM  
What is unique about Douglas's writing? 6 59 Mar 04, 2017 04:28PM  
Play Book Tag: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 2 13 Sep 15, 2016 07:12AM  
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself
  • Up from Slavery
  • The Classic Slave Narratives
  • Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880
  • From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
  • John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  • American Slavery, American Freedom
  • La educación de Henry Adams
  • Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
  • Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
  • Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion
  • The Strange Career of Jim Crow
  • Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South
  • The Marrow of Tradition
556 followers
Frederick Douglass (née Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) was born a slave in the state of Maryland in 1818. After his escape from slavery, Douglass became a renowned abolitionist, editor and feminist. Having escaped from slavery at age 20, he took the name Frederick Douglass for himself and became an advocate of abolition. Douglass traveled widely, and often perilously, to lecture against sla ...more
More about Frederick Douglass

Other books in the series

The Autobiographies (3 books)
  • My Bondage and My Freedom
  • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Can't Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
    $12.99 $2.99
“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land... I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.” 229 likes
“I have observed this in my experience of slavery, - that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.” 83 likes
More quotes…