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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  51 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to rea
Hardcover, 912 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Simon & Schuster
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We like, want, our heroes to be uncompleted, to always be heroic and constant while in the spotlight, and to leave that spotlight before they change politics or ideals. We want to remember Lincoln as the great emancipator not as the man who at one point wanted all freed slaves to return to Africa, a place they had never seen. That ruins the image of martyr Lincoln. We have the same feeling of many of our heroes, including Frederick Douglass.

Who despite what some pe
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful. One description called it "cinematic" and I think that's pretty accurate. You feel the sense of Douglass and the beautiful prose really captures his words and the time. It's annoying that people call him an "imperfect man." I mean, who isn't an imperfect person? This book certainly covers the warts and all. What's amazing about Douglass is that he never wavered. He never softened. He was strident until the end. After talking against slavery, he moved on to lynching and th ...more
Donna Davis
2.5 stars, rounded up. Thanks go to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the DRC, which I received free in exchange for this honest review.

Douglass is a key figure in American history, and Blight has made his career largely through his expertise on Douglass’s life. I expected to be impressed here, and indeed, the endnotes are meticulous and I would be amazed if there was a single error anywhere in this work. But aspects of the biography rub me the wrong way, and ultimately, I realized that the
This is a big book that held my interest for most pages.
The book traces the life of Frederick Douglass in a linear progression. The early chapters on his years in slavery depend mostly on his autobiographies which is not surprising given the lack of other written sources. The best chapters related to the civil war and its aftermath. Again this is not surprising given this is the author's chosen field.
At times the book sunk into a lot of detail which would be only for the determined fan.
The autho
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

TITLE - Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

AUTHOR - David W. Blight

GENRE - Biography

THESIS - Marvelous example of inspirational writing that gives a new perspective to be explored, of the complexity and prowess that was Frederick Douglass

RATING - 3/5

SUMMARY - Blight's reconstruction of Frederick Douglass' early life is portrayed quite differently in comparison to other Douglass biographies. I found it to be most original,
Porter Broyles
1. How well written is it?

I purchased the audio book through Audible.

The person who read the book has a very smooth seductive voice. When I first started listening to the book I kept thinking, "This guy needs to read sleazy romances."

The story itself is well written and concise. I would put the prose and style at a lower level college course. It was not overly complex, but I would not consider it to be pulp history.

2. How interesting is the subject?

Frederick Douglass is arguably one of the two
Scott Pomfret
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This account of the life of Frederick Douglass convinced me that in a hundred years we will view anti-immigrant sentiment as we now look at those who opposed abolition. Not because "Prophet of Freedom" made any such case, but because all the bones of the current strife are within Douglass's life, writing, and oratory. Douglass was an incredibly prescient and forward-thinking man.

To be sure, "Prophet of Freedom" is no hagiography. There's plenty to disturb modern ears. Douglass was virulently ant
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book proves that a lengthy in-depth footnoted biography can be interesting as well as informative. Included are pictures which complement the well-written text. The author tells not only the story of Douglass’s life, but also about the time period in which he lived and people he encountered along the way.
Casey Wheeler
I read this biography because I have not read one about Frederick Douglass although he has been indirectly addressed in an number of other books that I have read. This is a very detailed and exhaustive biography. That said, it is well written making it an engaging read. The author frequently refers to passages from the three autobiographies writtten by Douglass himself which provides a unique perspective to the book. While history has lionized the man, this biography points out his failings alon ...more
Lucas Brandl
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Frederick Douglass was a truly amazing person, and this is a truly amazing story. He was born into slavery, escaped, educated himself, and became probably the most famous/eloquent/influential abolitionist of the Civil War era. A lot of people know those things about him from reading other books or articles that he is mentioned in as part of a broader Civil War history. But what I really liked about this book and devoting so many pages just to his life is that it introduced a lot of other storyli ...more
Jenna Bookish
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
While I had of course heard of Frederick Douglass before reading this book, my knowledge of him was spotty at best, consisting mostly of fuzzy, half-remembered elementary school lessons detailing how he cajoled white children into teaching him to read as a young slave. He then went on to become a prominent abolitionist as an adult after escaping slavery. This was the beginning and the end of my knowledge of Douglass. 

Blight's biography brings Douglass into sharp focus, not just as a historical f
Karen Meeus
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is a very comprehensive and meticulously researched biography of an absolutely fascinating man. This book is a true joy to read for every history buff. Must-read, even.

The author brings us an incredibly detailed analysis and thought-provoking insights into Douglass' life and times, and sadly, also shows us that some of the attitudes he struggled against his entire life are still relevant today.
This is by no means light reading, but it is oh so very interesting. The reader's full attention
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brilliant portrait of the man who may well have been the most important American of the 19th century (with the possible exception of Lincoln, with whom he occasionally sparred). Eric Foner and others have brilliantly reviewed this book, so I'm going to keep my remarks short. My takeaways for APUSH teaching will include a renewed understanding of the important role that religious thinking played in the great social reform movements of that time, including not only abolition but also women's rig ...more
Adam Shields
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This is a very well written book. It is somewhat amazing that there is so much documentation that this can be based on. And part of what I find amazing about the book are the little details that Blight has clearly worked hard to reveal.

Blight seems particularly good match. He writes with real literary skill. He is known for his work on memory and for Douglass who wrote three autobiographies, and has multiple editions of those, Blight's work on memory is especially helpful. Blight
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review first appeared in Booklist.

Any biography of Douglass must compete with the ones he wrote himself; passionate memoirs which vividly illustrate the anguish of slavery, and testify to the humanity and intelligence of African Americans. Yet, as David Blight demonstrates in this brilliant and compassionate work, Douglass could never escape the ingrained racism tainting even abolitionist circles. When he disagreed with “Liberator” William Lloyd Garrison’s policy of combating slavery with “suasi
A comprehensive read about an extraordinary man and his accomplishments/failures.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom is an interesting read. I give this book four and a half stars. I recommend it for those who want to learn more about this important man in history.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This made me want to go back and read the rest of Douglass' volumes of autobiography in order to compare his self-presentation.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favorites this year - will definitely be reading more Douglass. I had a half-scanned Wikipeda entry knowledge of him, and really enjoyed getting a fuller picture.
Logan Brown
rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2018
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This biography of Fredrick Douglass was well written an very informative. I learned a lot about him that I didn't know. If you are interested in history and Fredrick Douglass, I highly recommend this book.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2018
Steve Peterson
rated it really liked it
Oct 31, 2018
Jovan Burton
rated it it was amazing
Nov 13, 2018
Alecia Murphy
rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2018
Cristie Underwood
May 29, 2018 marked it as kindle
Very interesting biography on someone that I thought I knew more about than I actually did know! I found Douglass' opinions about the Abolition War to be extremely interesting and relevant. Mr. Douglass was a very interesting man and the author of this biography captured his life in such a brilliant manner.
Ben Leiter
rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2018
Nov 10, 2018 marked it as to-read
Listened to fascinating interview with author on Just the Right Book podcast.
Oct 30, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: zzz2018-oct-new
Mark Abramson
Nov 11, 2018 marked it as to-read
NYTBR 11-3-18
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David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiogr ...more
“Everybody in the south,” wrote Douglass, “wants the privilege of whipping somebody else.” 0 likes
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