Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

by David W. Blight


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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a man (Frederick Douglass), what a story of his life, what an insightful author (David Blight). The number of biographies which I have read go beyond counting. This is one of the three finest and, perhaps partly because of my age, (close to Douglass' at his death) the most inspiring. It is extraordinary in every respect. Take 20% off coupons from
D-does-reviews More than 1 year ago
I have to be honest and confess that I’m still working my way thorough this wonderfully written biography of a man I have always found fascinating because while he started his life as a slave and was soon separated from the few family members he could rightfully claim, Frederick Douglass was destined to become one of the greatest orators in the history of our country. I was shocked and moved to tears by the savage beatings Frederick witnessed as a young child, impressed by his love of reading and the transformation that his thirst for knowledge and education brought to his life. This is a fabulous book that every history buff can dig their teeth into and I intend to savor it slowly so that I can absorb all of the tiny details that this author so painstakingly researched in order to write this book. It’s absolutely mesmerizing! I read a complimentary copy of this book provided by Simon and Schuster through NetGalley and all opinions expressed in my voluntary review are completely my own.
JennaBookish More than 1 year ago
While I had of course heard of Frederick Douglass before reading this book, my knowledge of him was spotty at best, consisting mostly of fuzzy, half-remembered elementary school lessons detailing how he cajoled white children into teaching him to read as a young slave. He then went on to become a prominent abolitionist as an adult after escaping slavery. This was the beginning and the end of my knowledge of Douglass.  Blight's biography brings Douglass into sharp focus, not just as a historical figure, but as a man. The regal looking figure we can see in photos today was once a small boy, treated as property by the Auld family. He was heartbroken when he was emotionally rejected by his mistress, Sophia Auld, who had begun his education before her husband convinced her it was dangerous to educate a slave. He had a granddaughter who liked to braid his hair. His love of music was bordering on the spiritual.  He also, like all of us, had flaws. He may have been unfaithful to his wife. His emphasis on self-reliance was so extreme that it at times felt like a blind spot. He was a self-made man who pulled himself up out of slavery to become a highly influential figure and seemed at times almost disdainful of anyone who couldn't or wouldn't do the same. But that single-minded determination was perhaps his defining trait; he fought for equality quite literally up to his dying day. Douglass had a speaking arrangement scheduled for the evening of his death, before a heart attack took him unexpectedly.  "Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot." Blight's recounting of the life of Frederick Douglass is intensely researched and thorough. It was not quite as readable as other biographies I've read, such as Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton biography, but there's something to be said for valuing substance over style. Reading this was an infinitely valuable education experience, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in American history and the beginnings of the civil rights movement.  
adamrshields More than 1 year ago
Short Review: This is a very well written book. It is somewhat amazing that there is so much documentation that this can be based on. And part of what I find amazing about the book are the little details that Blight has clearly worked hard to reveal. Blight seems particularly good match. He writes with real literary skill. He is known for his work on memory and for Douglass who wrote three autobiographies, and has multiple editions of those, Blight's work on memory is especially helpful. Blight also has written about slave narratives, the underground railroad and reconstruction. All of which come to bear with Douglass. I think the best I can say is that after reading 900 pages on Douglass, I was left wanting more. I have a fuller review on my blog (about 1450 words) at
wjane More than 1 year ago
Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight is not a boring biography but the story of a man who lived his beliefs. I enjoyed reading about the people who shaped his life by force and others he chose to affect him even more deeply in his spirit. This biography portrays Douglass realistically with an in depth look at his family, contemporaries and fellow workers. Frederick Douglass learned from his experiences and changed the lives of others with his spirit, beliefs and work to abolish slavery. I recommend this book to anyone interested in abolition, slavery and United States History. My thanks to the author, the publisher and netgalley for making this book available to read and review.