Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

by David W. Blight

For a number of years now, I've been reading my way through American history by reading the biography of United States presidents. I suspected that there were a lot of other worthy people, American and otherwise, to read about, but by sticking to the presidents, I'd have a nice ordered list that would give me a pretty good insight into the workings of this nation over the decades. It might not be the most politically correct choice, but it has worked pretty well. And I figured I could get to those other folks once I'm done with my current project.


...every now and then I sneak a peak off the list. Back in January, a blog post alerted me to a new biography of Frederick Douglass, the famous escaped slave and abolitionist. My interest was piqued, I put a hold on the book, and about four months later I finally got to read it. I knew that I had been missing bits of American history here and there, but this book really showed me that I am missing a lot.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom revealed the 19th century United States from the views of abolitionists and African Americans--views barely grazed by the biographies of the dead white guys. Back in school, the textbooks mentioned slavery, mentioned the abolitionists, and then pretty much jumped to the Civil War. In the telling of Douglass' life, you get a better feel for the struggle against slavery--the advances and setbacks the movement leading up to the war. The reader is also treated to the roller coaster ride of slavery, emancipation, and then persecution of African Americans in the 19th Century.

Of course, the story of Frederick Douglass himself also makes for a fascinating read. He was a complex and amazing individual. Professor Blight presents a favorable picture of Douglass, without ignoring his faults. The story of his life made me want to keep turning pages even while the depth of the material made me want to take breaks.

I really need to put this on my shelf.
LibraryThing link


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