Publisher's Note:  

No book except perhaps Uncle Tom’s Cabin had as powerful an impact on the abolitionist movement as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. But while Stowe wrote about imaginary characters, Douglass’s book is a record of his own remarkable life.


Born a slave in 1818 on a plantation in Maryland, Douglass taught himself to read and write. In 1845, seven years after escaping to the North, he published Narrative, the first of three autobiographies. This book calmly but dramatically recounts the horrors and the accomplishments of his early years—the daily, casual brutality of the white masters; his painful efforts to educate himself; his decision to find freedom or die; and his harrowing but successful escape.


An astonishing orator and a skillful writer, Douglass became a newspaper editor, a political activist, and an eloquent spokesperson for the civil rights of African Americans. He lived through the Civil War, the end of slavery, and the beginning of segregation. He was celebrated internationally as the leading black intellectual of his day, and his story still resonates in ours.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Barnes and Nobles Classics

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass

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Overall Review:  

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an Amerian Slave gives an up-close and personal look at the world of slavery. Famous orator Frederick Douglass not only details the horrible abuse and living conditions he experienced as a slave, but presents additional anedotes about what life was like for those he worked alongside. Douglass also calls attention to the mental agony slaves experienced and the hypocritical nature of the so-called Christian slaveholders. With his remarkable ability to present facts in an honest yet heartfelt way, readers will be touched by Douglass' extraordinary story. 


This Barnes and Noble Classic also includes a short biography and timeline of Douglass' life, an introduction by Robert G. O'Meally, a preface by famous abolitionalist William Lloyd Garrison, as well as a comment and question section at the end of the book.  

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language: 5 religious exclamations, 9 mild obscenities, 7 derogatory names.


Violence/Gore: Masters verbally threaten their slaves; a character engages in a fist fight with his master and both receive non-life threatening injuries; slaves are whipped, beaten and struck with boards; a slave is whipped and beaten to death; blood and gore from the whippings are often detailed; two slaves are shot point blank in the head; a slave's windpipe is crushed, leading to subsequent death. 


Sex/Nudity: Slaves are frequently stripped naked before being whipped; when clothing ran out, slave children went naked; sexual activity between masters and their female slaves is reported; slaves are bought to serve as "breeders" despite one slave already being married.  

Mature Subject Matter:  

Racial conflict, religious conflict, death, separation, rape, physical, emotional and verbal abuse, and the ethical nature of slavery. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Masters are typically described as "being drunkards". Slaves would drink on Christmas Day. 

Reviewed By Rachel
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