Pub. Date:
Yale University Press
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself

Current price is , Original price is $7.95. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


The powerful story of slavery that has become a classic of American autobiography, now in an authoritative edition

Frederick Douglass's autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, is widely regarded as a classic of American nineteenth-century history, of African-American studies, and of literature. In 1845, just seven years after his escape from slavery, the young Douglass published this powerful account of his life as a slave and his triumph over oppression. The book, which marked the beginning of Douglass’s career as an impassioned writer, journalist, and orator for the abolitionist cause, reveals the terrors he faced as a slave, the brutalities of his owners and overseers, and his harrowing escape to the North. 
This edition of the book, based on the authoritative text that appears in Yale University Press’s multivolume edition of the Frederick Douglass Papers, is the only edition of Douglass’s Narrative designated as an Approved Text by the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions. It includes a chronology of Douglass’s life, a thorough introduction by the eminent Douglass scholar John Blassingame, historical notes, and reader responses to the first edition of 1845.
“None so dramatically as Douglass integrated both the horror and the great quest of the African-American experience into the deep stream of American autobiography. He advanced and extended that tradition and is rightfully designated one of its greatest practitioners.”—John W. Blassingame, from the introduction


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300087017
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 02/08/2001
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 110,454
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)

About the Author

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was an African American abolitionist and social reformer, author, orator, and      statesman. John R. McKivigan is Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of History at Indiana University–Purdue             University, Indianapolis. Peter P. Hinks is a public historian, historical editor, and author of numerous essays and books on African American and American history before the Civil War. Heather L. Kaufman is the coeditor of several volumes on Douglass and a research associate of the Douglass Papers.


Tuckahoe, Maryland

Date of Birth:


Date of Death:

February 20, 1895

Place of Death:

Washington, D.C.

Read an Excerpt

I have often been utterly astonished, since I came north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy….Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion. -- from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Table of Contents

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Introduction by Houston A. Baker, Jr.
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Several members of LT have praised this book and since it seemed it would interesting background for my Civil War category and fit into my Biography category I decided it would be a good addition to my list this year. I will have to join the chorus of those praising this memoir of the years of slavery endured by Fredrick Douglas. His writing style is clear and engaging; he describes the horrors of slavery in a matter of fact manner that somehow makes more of an impact than an impassioned harangue would have; and he is fair in recounting the times that he felt that his masters treated him with fairness or kindness. He emphasizes how dehumanizing slavery is and how most masters used that technique to keep slaves docile. He also illustrates how the culture of slave holding was deleterious to masters as well as to the victims. Intellectually, we all know that the institution of slavery was an abomination. Reading Douglas¿ Narrative we learn to understand emotionally just how devastating that system was to both slaves and masters.The edition I bought was published by the Yale University Press in 2001. In addition to the Narrative this edition includes a chronology of Douglas¿ life and an extensive Introduction discussing, among other issues, the use of slave narratives by the abolitionists to drum up support for their cause and the difficulties in demonstrating the accuracy of those accounts. Douglas¿ Narrative was unique at the time because he dared to name names, give dates, and describe in detail incidences that could be checked, thus putting himself in physical danger of retaliation. My edition also included responses of readers of the day to the Narrative and extensive historical annotations demonstrating the accuracy of his story. Highly recommended as an important document in the history of the USA. 5 stars
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Incredible, amazing, moving autobiography. He writes with such energy and well-earned emotion. But this is not only an emotional story, it is one full of ideas that are still relevant today. Douglass even sometimes looks past race, which is hard to do today, much less in his position, with all his personal grievances, and focuses instead on the much larger ill of slavery. I found it touching how fairly he described his 'good masters' as well as 'bad masters' (good being a relative term here), not villifying them, though it would be easy to do so, but showing clearly how the institution of slavery itself is to blame for perverting or amplifying their bad natures. He is not only a great and moral man but a great writer, impressive as he wrote this only 7 years after escaping from slavery, and the only fault I find with this book is that, coming in at 86 pages of actual narrative, it's too short! I'm going to look for his two follow up autobiographies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, and informative--I give this book a thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. Every African American should read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was enlightening as well as moving. To read an account of slavery from the mind of a former slave gives great insight as to the true brutality of the institution of slavery. Mr. Douglass was an amazingly well educated man by his own will and persistance. His personal narrative is very eloquently written and easily understood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I'd heard of the book and passed it by many times in the book store I'd never gotten around to reading it. Douglass coveys the barbarity and savagery that is slavery in such a way that, that I cannot fully convey. To know that these unspeakable acts actually took place in a land that espoused freedom and liberty made me want to be sick. I¿ve read about the treatment of slaves in many history texts and I¿ve found that Douglass¿ personal account relays such raw emotion that the reader cannot help but be pulled in. The fact that the story is in the first person makes this book the best way of learning about the true nature of slavery, not a ¿cut and dry¿ matter like most text books. I was immersed in the life of this man. If it¿s not required reading, it should be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this superbly written book to everyone. I am certain this book will touch the heart of all those who read it. The majority of the people have developed their concept of what slavery entailed through what they learned in history books. However, this book provides the facts behind the suffering and torment of the African Americans. As such, this book provides a detailed behind-the-scene re-inactment of the cruel and immoral actions exhibited by ignorant white people. Yet, it will demonstrate how determination and perseverance can overcome all obstacles. Finally, this book will transport you to the 19th century where you will love, hate, and cry through the eyes of Frederick Douglas.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was exceptional to read. Frederick Douglas's writings captured in great detail his life as a slave. The book was very well written. Although he was self taught, this educated man, took your attention. At times I thought I was there. This book was a great insight on the life of a slave.