Synopses & Reviews
Born into a life of bondage, Frederick Douglass secretly taught himself to read and write. It was a crime punishable by death, but it resulted in one of the most eloquent indictments of slavery ever recorded. His gripping narrative takes us into the fields, cabins, and manors of pre-Civil War plantations in the South and reveals the daily terrors he suffered as a slave.
Written more than a century and a half ago by an African-American who went on to become a famous orator, U.S. minister to Haiti, and leader of his people, this timeless classic still speaks directly to our age. It is a record of savagery and inhumanity that goes far to explain why America still suffers from the great injustices of the past.
With an Introduction by Peter J. Gomes and an Afterword by Gregory Stephens
"He is my friend." —Abraham Lincoln
“He experienced…the tyranny and circumscription of an ambitious human being who was classified as real estate.”—W.E.B. DuBois
“This narrative contains many affecting incidents, many passages of great eloquence and power…Who can read [it], and be insensible to its pathos and sublimity?” —William Lloyd Garrison
In his wrenching, classic autobiography--one of the most important documents in American history--Douglass describes himself as a man who became a slave and, later, a slave who became a man. Reissue.
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 dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass's own triumph over it. Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacobs's account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains crucial reading. These narratives illuminate and inform each other. This edition includes an incisive Introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah and extensive annotations.
"From the Trade Paperback edition.
One of the most important documents in American history...In this wrenching, classic autobiography, Douglass describes himself as a man who became a slave—and, later, a slave who became a man. With an Introduction by Minister Peter J. Gomes of Harvard University.
About the Author
Frederick Douglass, born around1817, was the son of an African-American woman and a white slaveholder. Brilliant and brave, Douglass once led a minor insurrection against his mastersbut unlike the famous Nat Turner, Douglass escaped his venture alive. While still a young man he fled, hungry and hunted, to the North, where he was befriended by abolitionists. His dramatic autobiography was published in 1845, creating a sensation and spurring Douglasss career as a militant, uncompromising leader of African-Americans. He recruited African-American volunteers for the Civil War and later secured and protected the rights of the freemen. Douglass later became secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia, and United States Minister to Haiti. He died in 1895.
Peter J. Gomes was the minister at Memorial Church at Harvard University from 1974 until his death in 2011. Among his many books are The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living.
Gregory Stephens is Lecturer of Cultural Studies and Film in the Department of Literature in English, University of West IndiesMona. He is the author of On Racial Frontiers: The New Culture of Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and Bob Marley. Previously he was an award-winning songwriter and journalist in Austin and Laredo, Texas, as well as a bilingual public school teacher (Spanish/English). He lives in Kingston, Jamaica.