Review: NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS by Frederick Douglass

Some participants do not have blogs of their own, but we like to give them an opportunity to express their opinions about the books they read for the reading challenges.

Reva read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass for the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge 2011.  Here is her review.

Most of the books I’ve read concerning slavery were written about deep South states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, etc. Frederick Douglass tells us about slavery in Maryland, which is somewhat different than further south. For instance, he says that most slave babies were seperated from their mothers in the first year of life, put on different farms or selling the mother while an old woman who could do no work was made responsible for the babies.

His masters all seemed to be extremely cruel, except for one woman who taught him to read in early childhood. Mr. Douglass impressed me as a truly brilliant man. At one point, he secretly began a class to teach other slaves to read, but was discovered and sent away.

Much of his childhood was spent hungry, cold and partially clothed. The weather was colder in Maryland, but slaves received one poor set of clothes to last and entire year and were given about half the rations given to slaves further south (according to my previous reading). There were no beds or other furniture in slave cabins. Slaves bunched up on the floor for warmth.

In Maryland, the master owned 20 farms, which he controlled from the home location. Strangely, the master and all his children died over time, necessitating repeated selling and dividing of slave  populations. A slave who was too old to work and couldn’t be sold was put out in a shack in the woods and told they were responsible for themselves. No one was there to watch them die of starvation or a fall or exposure.

Frederick has insightful explanations of religion and the slaveholder. Every American should read this short autobiography. We must understand our history to prevent these shameful events’ reoccurence.

**Attention participants: Remember to email us a link to your reviews, and we’ll post them here so we can see what everyone is reading!**

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