Reviews for Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself : A New Critical Edition

Book News Reviews
Frederick Douglass' 1845 account of how, as a young slave, he taught himself to read and, as a result, began resisting his white slavemasters to ultimately escape and achieve freedom is a classic of African American literature and an important document in U.S. history. This new edition of the Narrative includes a critical introduction by Angela Davis (History of Consciousness [emerita], University of California, Santa Cruz) and her two 1969 "Lectures on Liberation," in which she focused on Douglass' intellectual and spiritual awakening, and on the importance of self-knowledge in achieving freedom from oppression. Not indexed. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Choice Reviews 2010 July
This edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass contains two previously unpublished "Lectures on Liberation" by Angela Davis, delivered at the start of her controversial appointment at UCLA in 1969 and later circulated as a pamphlet by supporters during her incarceration in 1970. An introduction Davis wrote in 2009 adds a look back at the lectures and speculates about the continuing relevance of Douglass's text. Davis's lectures apply methods from Hegelian and Marxist philosophy to an analysis of alienation, freedom, resistance, and liberation in the life of the slave, while her introduction focuses more on recent feminist readings critiquing Douglass. There is little here that scholars haven't already said in the four decades since Davis delivered these lectures, but they do provide an interesting window onto the intellectual landscape of the late 1960s. Less clear is how these lectures "will help us to understand ... the legacies of slavery as they are crystallized today in multiple regimes of violence against women and men." After all, it wasn't Douglass's philosophical psychology that freed the slaves, but a civil war, which itself did little in the long run to ameliorate their oppression. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. Copyright 2010 American Library Association.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
When this slave narrative was first published in 1845, it was bound with two testimonials from white abolitionists attesting that Douglass truly wrote the text himself. Despite his command as a public speaker, critics doubted a slave could write so eloquently. Still powerful reading. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.