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My Bondage And My Freedom

(The Autobiographies #2)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  10,593 ratings  ·  264 reviews
If I ever wavered under the consideration, that the Almighty, in some way, ordained slavery, and willed my enslavement for his own glory, I wavered no longer. I had now penetrated the secret of all slavery and oppression, and had ascertained their true foundation to be in the pride, the power and the avarice of man. -from Chapter XI: "A Change Came O'er the Spirit of My Dr ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published December 4th 2008 by Cosimo Classics (first published December 25th 1855)
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Rob Stockton My bet is that Douglass would probably consider My Bondage and My Freedom a more complete telling. He wrote it after he broke with Garrison and the re…moreMy bet is that Douglass would probably consider My Bondage and My Freedom a more complete telling. He wrote it after he broke with Garrison and the rest of the American Anti-Slavery Society and spent time in England, so it includes discussion of northern racism/white paternalism and draws on trans-Atlantic cultural comparisons.

The Narrative Life is still a great introduction to the guy, though, and it's a bit shorter, so that might be up your street. Either would be a valid place to start!(less)
Paul Klammer Probably not. I suggest you discuss with your parents before hand. I do strongly encourage you to read it, for most of us, age 16 - 18 would be possib…moreProbably not. I suggest you discuss with your parents before hand. I do strongly encourage you to read it, for most of us, age 16 - 18 would be possible. I think reading again, 3 - 6 years later would be very good to do.
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Rowena
" The remark is not unfrequently made, that slaves are the most contented and happy labourers in the world. They dance and sing, and make all manner of joyful noises—so they do; but it is a great mistake to suppose them happy because they sing. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows, rather than the joys, of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears." – Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom

I’ve never read such a detailed and insigh
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 29, 2010 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
ij
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
...more
Caroline
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable, of course. Eloquent, and a bit wordy in 19th century style, but Douglass needed to prove that a Black man could match the rhetoric of his white peers.

I was most interested in Douglass’s comments on the expropriation of the product of labor. In skimming a couple of internet pieces on the availability of Marx’s writing in America, it appears Greeley published some of his writing in the early 1850s. My Bondage and My Freedom was published in 1854, when the impression left by the 1848 re
...more
Hana
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
...more
Sumeyya
Aug 01, 2008 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
catherine ♡
Read for school. Remarkably powerful, especially the first half, before he was free. There's a reason this was the first reading in my African American Political Thought class.
Larry Bassett
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, autobiography
I experienced this book as a combination of audible.com as well as an e-book. The e-book went beyond the audible book in that it included a number of speeches that Douglas gave in the 1850s that were alluded to in the book. This is the second of several autobiographies that Douglas wrote in his lifetime. This book is a significant expansion of the first autobiography which was relatively short. Although it recovers the territory of the first book it is a stunning presentation of the man's early ...more
Matt
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.
Mark Jr.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, audio, 2019
This is one of the most memorable books I could ever possibly read. My praise can’t possibly match the eloquence and power of a single one of his lines. But I can’t help praising anyway. As a writer wannabe myself, I'm in awe.

The turns of phrase are fantastic, and they just kept coming. Here’s just one.

The fact is, such was my dread of leaving the little cabin, that I wished to remain little forever, for I knew the taller I grew the shorter my stay. (7)


The metaphors were beautiful. Here’s just o
...more
Dany
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky, her grand old woods, her fertile fields, her beautiful rivers, her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong; when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her ...more
Carlos
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressive book and an astounding life story. This is a tale of bravery, endurance, unrelenting curiosity, audacity and endless resilience. I am confused as into why this is not a figure better known and I say this aware of his current importance but to my limited knowledge Douglass seems to be relevant enough to be cited aside with any prominent figure (i.e. MLK, JFK) and this is rarely the case. Maybe evidence of this is the fact that the current President recently stated FD was still alive ...more
Vaishali
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
A book that changed my life, and made me rethink what it is to have an iron will. Just amazing.
Cynda
Rowena of Reading for Pleasure suggested I read this book. Once upon a time,someone read this book in a US American slavery readings course. But that someone was decidedly not me. So I took the plunge, and I am glad I did.
I felt Frederick Douglass' dignity and determination at every turn. Made decisions and kept making decisions, being an ever-evolving spiritual force for Good. Kept talking about slavery once he escaped because slavery, as all lies, die in the Light of Truth Wisdom. Freedom begi
...more
Shivani Maurya
Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom. This book is his recounting of the transition period from being a bonded slave to finally embracing freedom in New Bedford. The first chapter borrows heavily from the events towards the end of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave , but what follows is a masterful insight into the plight of slavery from the eyes of a freed man. This pivotal point in Douglass' life was marred by personal struggles as ...more
Iris
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Thorin
Dec 08, 2010 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
Abby
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable! I’m not sure how I made it this long without reading.

Nina ( picturetalk321 )
Should you ever feel tempted, even for a moment, to believe the beautiful lies of a galant Gone-with-the-wind slavery south (as in US history), or for an instant think, "well, maybe there were some bad eggs but surely not every slave driver was vicious and cruel?" -- then this book will cure you. It contains the memoirs of a man who was enslaved in the state of Maryland (between New Jersey and Washington DC in the US) from birth until he escaped to freedom aged 20.

Douglass exposes slavery as in
...more
Wade
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This book ought to be treated as a vital pillar in understanding the history of humanity in our country. Douglas tells his story of growing up in slavery, his gradual education as he took advantage of opportunities to to learn from the school books his young master brought home, and through this, his dissatisfaction with the state of things that would allow one group of people to subjugate and dehumanize another. Along the way he wrestles with how he can pray to the same God that his horribly ab ...more
Zach
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolute masterpiece! Read this book!

I like this book more than the first autobiography because of the perspective of looking back 10 years after he wrote the first, but I have to say reading both was quite interesting. In the first book he felt fresh and related stories to the reader off the cuff (am I crazy saying this?). The second book he felt like he knew what people wanted to know about slavery and really gave us a unique perspective of someone who understood his point of v
...more
Hugolane
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a biography of Douglass as a child, so the story was familiar, but so very different to read his story in his own words. There are few surprises, not just because I knew Frederick Douglass's story, but I know enough about America in the time period. Yet, I felt particular pain reading about the racism Douglass experienced in freedom. As an East European specialist, it was also interesting to get a sense of Douglass's apparent admiration of Lajos Kossuth. The excerpts in the appendix are g ...more
Kristen (belles_bookshelves)
"One cannot easily forget to love freedom."

Much like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass this book is an amazing telling of the life of a former slave and how he achieved his freedom. It's a more complete telling than Narrative (having been written 15 years later) - it includes what happened to him in more detail after becoming a free man.

Its eloquent from start to finish - at equal times sad or heroic or terrifying or hopeful. But it's an "easy" read in that I was able to read it very q
...more
Drew
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I wish when I was growing up in Maryland, we'd read this autobiography by Frederick Douglass instead of learning about Lord Calvert or Francis Scott Key, given that so much of the author's story (from birth on) takes place in the Old Line State. An eloquent, culturally astute, sometimes harrowing memoir, "My Bondage and My Freedom" was a bestseller in its day and still has much to share on the insidious ways that racism plays out in American culture.
Leah Hill
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Fredrick...Our America needs your wisdom today. Such a unifying and wise man. I could read his writings all day. I love this book and his wisdom brought me such peace in a turbulent world. Just read it!
Aline
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly powerful and moving.
Mike Prusaitis
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is sincerely mind-boggling to think that this is a work of nonfiction. I am curious about his matter-of-fact way of conveying his points. He was clearly an extremely intelligent person And I wonder if the framing and language used was another way to sure of his arguments against slavery. To say, we can be a scientific and plain spoken people. He wrote so trivially about being beaten and abused. How can someone tolerate such a thing? How can a people be made to tolerate such a thing? And how c ...more
Mattr76
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When slavery was introduced into the Americas, I doubt anyone would have guessed the seeds for a great literary tradition would be planted along with the cotton and sugar cane. If Solomon Northup's 12 Years a Slave is the American Odyssey, then Frederick Douglass's autobiography is something akin to the works produced by the legendary Athenian philosophers. Simultaneously a straightforward, compelling biography and a rigorous humanist argument against slavery, this is an essential, thoroughly Am ...more
Perry Whitford
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frederick Douglass, a bonafide American hero if ever there was one, was born into slavery in Maryland, 1818. Of mixed raced parentage, he never knew who his father was. As was the way with slavery, he was separated from his mother, who he barely saw before she died when he was ten:

'There is not, beneath the sky, an enemy to filial affection so destructive as slavery. It had made my brothers and sisters strangers to me; it converted the mother that bore me, into a myth; it shrouded my father in m
...more
Catriona
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most powerful, challenging and remarkable books I've ever read. Frederick Douglass is such an eloquent narrator and he conveys the horrors and injustices of the slave system incredibly well. His own life is absolutely remarkable and gripping, but this book is so much more than just a life story, however amazing. I've never seen the fundamental principles of the system of slavery laid out - and challenged - so clearly anywhere else. We may have moved on from the slavery system ...more
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Which autobiography to read from Fredrick Douglass? 1 2 Jul 04, 2020 01:24AM  

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Frederick Douglass (né 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 slav ...more

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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