My Bondage and My Freedom



Product Description
When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society to the highest, mankind pay him the tribute of their admiration; when he accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by prudence and wisdom, their admiration is increased.

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  1. James Hiller @ 12:53 am

    Standing in line at the Lincoln Memorial, a book beckoned to me that I previously hadn’t seen before. The face of Frederick Douglas grabbed my attention; a man that I’ve respected for many years, encountering him mainly through my study of Abraham Lincoln. On the spur of the moment, I snatched up a copy of “My Bondage and My Freedom”, and within a few days, my admiration in Frederick Douglass was transformed from interest to awe.

    Frederick Douglass orginially penned his book as a response to people’s accusations that someone as articulate and composed as he couldn’t possibly be a former slave. With that goal in mind, Douglass wrote his memoirs, in a straight forward, powerful way. In the book, he painfully and honestly documents the path his early life took; the memories of being owned, how slaves coped during these times, and how he managed to pull himself out of it all.

    While Douglass’ life in itself is amazing, (as he describes the amazing process he undertook to learn how to read), what amazed me even more are Douglass’ discourses that he sprinkles through the book, discussing relevant issues during the time. In one instance, he addresses the concern about why slaves simply didn’t run away from their oppressive situations. It’s almost as if you can actually hear the people talking to Douglass and he responding to them.

    This book does not only tell the tale of a truly amazing American, but gives us a unique insight to the times. This book should be required reading in every high school in this country.

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  2. Anonymous @ 3:40 am

    My Bondage and My Freedom, one of Douglass’ several autobiographies, a very important book that should be read by anyone interested in United States history generally, or the crucial and often tragic role race has played in that history. Douglass, a former slave, was one of the few African-Americans who achieved prominence in the largely white, new england abolition movement. Douglass was an eloquent writer and (by historical accounts) speaker. His recounting of his experience as a slave, and his reflections on his role as a black former slave in America, are powerful.

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  3. Anthony Plank @ 5:56 am

    Having read a biography of Douglass many years ago, I thought I knew his story. Hearing through his pen was an entirely different matter. What a master of the language and insighful set of observations on human nature.

    I am a man of many words, but words fail me in my endorsement of this book. The letter to his former master in the appendix is worth the price of the book by itself.

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  4. Michael Caracappa @ 8:23 am

    Historians often call the Civil War the first modern war, a precursor to the great battlefield slaughterhouses of the twentieth century. Frederick Douglass shows that America was also first to invent the totalitarian police state. It’s hard to believe Stalin didn’t have MY BONDAGE AND MY FREEDOM prominently positioned on his bookshelf for frequent consultation because the Soviet system of oppression had so much in common with the system of oppression in the American South. The only significant difference was that, in the Soviet system, absolute power was vested in Stalin; in the American system, absolute power was vested in each slavemaster. Each slavemaster was, in essence, a little Stalin, with life and death power over his slave property.

    The slave system rigorously withheld news and information from slaves. A slave often would not know his father or even his own date of birth. He could not lawfully learn to read. He could not travel without written authorization. He could not associate freely with other slaves. He could not safely trust anyone or confide his private thoughts to anyone because planted informers were so numerous. Slaves had to avoid even certain thoughts for fear the slavemaster would see in their facial expressions what was in their minds.

    Disguised slave catchers would sometimes help and encourage a slave to escape, only to capture him for the reward. The slavemaster demanded and enforced absolute, immediate, and unquestioned subservience through fear, a liberal use of the lash and the constant threat of transferring a recalcitrant slave to an even harsher labor camp in the deep South.

    Yet MY BONDAGE AND MY FREEDOM is by no means a depressing book, thanks to Douglass’ irrepressible courage, wit, spirit and good luck when he most needed it. There are even a few intentionally hilarious moments, which I won’t give away in this review.

    To avoid capture after his escape to the North, Douglass used the fees from his speeches in Great Britain and royalties from his book sales to legally buy his own freedom from his Maryland owner.

    The book covers a period of American history I knew little about, the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. I didn’t know, for example, that the abolition movement early in that period favored secession from the United States on the belief that the Constitution favored the South and backed to the hilt the slave system. An excellent recent book that supports that view is SLAVERY’S CONSTITUTION by David Waldstreicher.

    Even though Douglass was a religious, believing Christian, he leveled his most scathing criticism at the way Southerners used Christianity to justify and advance the slave system. He often noted that the cruelest slave masters were also credited as the most religious members of their communities. Some of the worst even had “Rev.” attached to their names. The only slavemaster Douglass credited with relative decency and kindness also happened to be an atheist.

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  5. Kimberly Brown @ 8:41 am

    I have to be honest, I never knew that Frederick Douglass published another volume of his autobiography. I foolishly believed that A Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass was his only book regarding is life as a slave and his life as a free man. I was so wrong. Sometimes I wonder how many other people still believe as I once did…

    My Bondage and My Freedom is an exceptional example of auto-biographical writing. Douglass’ mastery of the English language is superb! In reading his story and the way he’s able to describe his past as a young boy, raised by his grandmother and then sent to begin working, with little knowledge beforehand that he was in fact a slave was so eye-opening. I had no idea that some children, raised during this time were actually allowed to be child for a few precious years before they were introduced to the vile world of slavery.

    This book give such a detailed account of a man’s struggle to unleash the genius kept constrained by the world into which he was born and raised, is just amazing. I’m still astounded by him even though it’s been some time since I finished the book. While a majority of the book describes his life as a young boy and slave (told in the My Bondage section), the rest of the book (My Freedom) tells of his life after he escaped from slavery, his experiences given lectures against slavery, his time abroad in other countries where he was treated as a human being and not as a piece of property and then of his struggles to create and manage his own newspaper once he returns to the United States.

    The appendix is also a treasure, as it reprints many of his speeches and lectures on the injustice against humanity that was the slavery system. A Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass is one of my all time favorite books and I find that My Bondage and My Freedom is definitely a worthy companion, especially if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the life of Frederick Douglass.

    One thing that was missing and that I would love to come across one day, is his writing on his actual escape from slavery, as it is never fully explained in this book. As a reader you only know that he planned it and obviously executed his daring escape with help from others. That would really be a treat…

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