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am 25. April 2000
This is one of the most lucid, absorbing autobiographies I've read; that it has much to say about American history, specifically the institution of slavery, only adds to its luster. It is remarkable that someone born into slavery could learn to write as well as virtually any "man of letters" in his era. Despite Douglass' unhappy lot (or maybe because of it), he managed to acquire a great deal of insight into the people, white and black, around him. Douglass convincingly depicts how the institution of slavery damages both oppressed and oppressor--it dehumanizes the former and brings out the cruelest qualities of the latter. (A hundred years later, Martin Luther King would say much the same about the practice of segregration.) There is much anger in the Narrative--but also a wise and noble spirit. Compulsively readable, this book is still very much "relevant" today, and I can hardly imagine a time in which people will no longer wish to read it.
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am 11. April 2000
I expected this book to be rather historical in nature and probably pretty boring- but I was pleasantly suprised to find it to be a definite page-turner! This book offers valuable insight into what slavery was truly like for Douglass and many others of his time. His account is heart-wrenching. I definitely suggest this book.
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am 8. August 1998
I don't think I ever would have read this book if I did not have to teach it. I found it to be eloquent in both writing style as well as content. My 1968 Signet printing begins with a preface written in 1845 by William Lloyd Garrison. Written in the midst and passion of early abolitionism, Garrison's albeit well-meaning comments are much too preachy, long-winded and redundant; and could probably deter anyone from going on with the book. After a couple of pages of this preface, I put it aside and delved right into Douglass' narrative, and did not return to the preface until after I finished the book. Douglass, however, writes more like the early moderns than his 19th century contemporaries. Highly efficient in his syntax and word choice, he creates images and impressions in a sentence or two which are more powerful than what might take other authors 2 pages. While Douglass, in no uncertain terms, conveys the stark horrors of slavery, he never dwells on them. He r! ushes the narrative to the light at the end of the tunnel, his escape, where he and us both come to the harsh realization that escape to the North is not the end of his torments, but the beginning of new ones. I was most fascinated by the moment in time in which this piece was written. Douglass is not looking back and writing this as a free man in post Civil War America, but rather as an escaped fugitive slave in an America where slavery was still very much a fact of life and the Civil War was 2 decades away. This creates a distinct tone of panic and desperation throughout the narrative. In addition, in its brief 120 pages, Douglass uses this narrative to make several important points about slavery and life: slavery destroys the slave holder as well as the slave, no slaves does not equal a lack of prosperity for a country, the value of education is most appreciated by those who are denied it, and there is a vast difference between the "Christianity of Christ" an! d "slaveholding religion."
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am 13. April 1998
That booklist on your nightstand? Set it aside for 2 days ...
The other day, I was in the bookstore at SeaTac Airport starving for a book of substance. In the literature section, among the few stale, pseudo-classics, I found a book that I had never seen nor heard of before: "The Life of Frederick Douglass" by himself.
You HAVE to read this book ... especially if you think you already know what slavery was about. It makes Roots look like a Disney special. It is a shocking portrayal of inhumanity.
It's also very uplifting to see proof that a person raised in the most inhuman conditions and forcefully deprived of any education can turn around and be so intellegent and such an excellent writer. Accomplished through the shere will, desire to know the truth and determination to control his own destiny.
He also provides some interesting views on organized Christianity in this country which is still applicable to this day.
You can read it in a day or so ... I couldn't put it down. I'm quite ashamed to say that it is the first book I have EVER read by a black author (I can say with 95% confidence). If you find yourself in this same shameful situation, this is the book to start with.
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am 14. März 2005
I read Slaughterhouse-Five three times and enjoyed every part of it those moments that I occupied myself with the book. Vonnegut is an amazing writer, so creative, brilliant, clever and witty that some of his words are difficult to forget. This was the first book I read by Kurt Vonnegut, and it was recommended to me by a friend. While I was reading it the first time, I tried to understand why it had become so much of a talked about read. At the end of it, I understood. As someone who witnessed the Dresden bombing, the author portrayed his insight of war through the character of Billy Pilgrim, who was serving the US army during World War II a private. It is a fantastic anti-war book, or more a book with a sobering effect on war mongers. The overwhelming destruction of picturesque and artistic Dresden, by Allied bombers is at the centre of the book. The alien part of it was marvelous. This book is easy to understand, the setting is great and the pace is fast, confirmed by the fact that I lost my attention for a minute while reading the book until the last words. This is a book to recommend to any reader who accepts the realities of life.
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am 3. Januar 2000
What at first glance appears to be a gripping story of the evils of slavery and the excitement and thrill of the battle against and escape from those evils, on second glance reveals itself to be a deeply insightful look into the nature (and in some ways the meaning) of humanity. We see the cruelty, the evil, the jealousy, and the brutality and we see the dignity, the honor, the kindness, and the compassion of humanity. We see nearly all that we as humans are capable of and through reading this short narrative we may become aware of the fact that humanity is what we make of it and that inhumanity is not so different from humanity as we had wished.
This book presents a great story that is interesting in and of itself, but it also presents lessons to be learned. Lessons made clear by experiences among the most horrifying in all of human history. Hopefully these lessons will be learned from the experiences of the past and not from new horrific experiences in our own time.
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am 19. Oktober 1999
This is a difficult book to read because the evil that slavery entails. The oppression of anyone is an evil that must be overcome. Frederick Douglass displayed a remarkable courage in learning to read and write to finally overcome the horror of slavery. I appreciate his observation on the religious hypocrisy of the South. It was telling that religious slave owners were always the worst. Of course since religion helped breed slavery in America this really should not come as any surprise. I have great admiration for the founders of this country but I also feel that the evil and hypocrisy of slavery should be exposed. It is an ugly passage in American history that must be addressed. This book should be read by high school kids in every high school in America--make that every American period. Frederick Douglass deserves to be recognized as a great American and this book is essential reading for any American.
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am 11. Mai 1999
This narrative book of Frederick Douglass was very interesting. It talked about the slaves in the 1800's. Mostly it was about him and how he lived during the years. I like this book because it gave me a picture what he was doing. It makes me Frederick Douglass instead of himself. When I read this book, it makes me feel like a slave. The sad part of this story is how the slaves were treated during that time. They were whipped, slashed, burned, and even killed by their masters. Comparing this book with "Huckleberry Finn", I like this book more. It is more exciting and very educational. It brings me to the life of the slaves in the past. The more I read it, the more I liked it. All the educational books I read in the past, I like this book the best. Plus it will help you understand history better.
Out of ten, I give this book an eight. Hope you will enjoy this book like me.
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am 27. Februar 1999
I must confess I first picked up this biography last year as part of an assignment for my AP United States History class because of its relatively short length. What I found was a profound, thought-provoking narrative about Douglass' life as a slave. The language is not verbose but rather clear and cogent. I find that the phrase "a must-read" has become somewhat of a cliché when used today but this book is truly that in every sense. It is "a must-read" because it gives an idea of the horror it was to be a slave from someone with first-hand experience. Yet Douglass writes to educate, not to shock. It isn't necessary to have a special interest in slavery to appreciate this book; rather one must have an interest in identity. Before you do anything else, read this book. It will change your perception of America's past and America's present.
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am 24. September 1999
Everyone in America who has at least a high school diploma has a vague sense of who Frederick Douglass was, and maybe something about his connection to the Underground Railroad. But few have probably read this book. It is truly a classic, and like many classics, gets ignored. This is a powerful book which no brief summary can do justice. Anyone interested in the antebellum South will find this book fascinating. Douglass's narrative is gripping, and his moral struggles are equally arresting. It is difficult for us at the end of the 20th century to believe that such attitudes and practices were once prevelant in an entire culture. It is for this reason, if for no other, that this book should remain relevant.
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