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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Paperback – 26 Jan 1984


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (26 Jan. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086068511X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860685111
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (382 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman (President Barack Obama)

The poems and stories she wrote . . . were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace (President Bill Clinton)

She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace . . . She will always be the rainbow in my clouds (Oprah Winfrey)

She was important in so many ways. She launched African American women writing in the United States. She was generous to a fault. She had nineteen talents - used ten. And was a real original. There is no duplicate (Toni Morrison)

Book Description

One of America's most important classics, the first and best loved volume of Maya Angelou's bestselling seven-volume autobiography

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I hadn't so much forgot as I couldn't bring myself to remember. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. It is not only a picture of southern Black life in 1930s America but a very personal account of a troubled and brave childhood. Maya Angelou can make you understand all the hardship she, and many like her, went through because of her colour, age and gender without ever indulging in self pitty. She writes with warm, flowing language rich with colour and texture. It made me angry at the world, it made me question why we don't tolerate and accept people. At the same time it made me happy and comforted in the knowledge that true acceptance lies within, not in the eyes of others. I loved it.
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135 of 139 people found the following review helpful By E. Cottrell on 14 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a school project and at first I thought that reading the autobiography of someone that I'd never heard of would be slightly pointless. However, as we began to read the book, I discovered that previous knowledge of the author was not necessary to read and relate to this fantastically written and deeply emotional story.
Although, at times, the story (and Angelou's life) is traumatic and stressful, much of it is based on the ongoing theme of how she (and the people around her) can overcome the prejudice, hatred and lack of power that is forced upon them by the white people in their community. Angelou describes how she defeats the whites in her own personal ways, such as managing to become the first black person to work on the San Francisco streetcars.
Many people would find inspiration in this story of a child who, growing up in unfortunate and tragic circumstances, manages to overcome the racism and loathing thrown at her by not only the whites, but the other characters, such as her mother's partner, Mr Freeman, and her father's girlfriend, Dolores.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those interested in American history, or the history of racism.
Maya's story is one of success and triumph through some of the most difficult situations that life could through at you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "lovesparklesandbutterflies" on 14 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Maya Angelou's plight is just one of many tales of life as a young black woman growing up in the 1930s American South. Maya Angelou and her brother Bailey were abandoned by their parents and left in the care of their paternal grandmother, Momma, in a the small town of Stamps, Arkansas. When Maya and Bailey are eventually sent to California to be reunited with their mother, Maya, just eight years old, is brutally raped by her mother's boyfriend. Never recovering from this incident, she refuses to speak for five years, and later falls pregnant at the age of sixteen in an attempt to prove that she is not what she believes to be a "lesbian". "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" is the harrowing tale of Angelou's struggle to, not only be accepted as black and female, but also to accept herself.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
I came across this book as part of my degree. I read the Synopsis and expected an interesting if not distressing experience. What I got was a thought provoking amazingly overwhelming experience. Angelous' vivid account of her childhood is breath taking. There is no sign of bitterness at the traumatic experiences she encountered. In fact one realises that the events of the book are what made her who she is today.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
I was hesitant to read this book at first, I thought that it looked too long and would be boring to read. Now looking back, I know I was wrong. This autobiogaphical masterpiece is set in America in the 1930's. Maya Angelou starts the book with an excerpt from a play that she was in when she was very young. She uses humour to describe the way she feels at the time. Throughout the book, she uses lots of description to put the picture in the readers mind of her surroundings and feelings. This book tackles the racist issues that are still present in todays society. She tells us of how her father moved her away from her Grandmothers place, where she lived with her brother Bailey, and their family, to go and live with her mother. While she is over there , her mothers lover rapes her. As this is the tale of her own life, Maya Angelou has expressed the way she felt at this time incredibly well. The issues in her life at this time, are so serious it is unbelievable to think that she could possibly write a book about it , and tell the world her life story. Her troubled and exceedingly brave child hood really opened my eyes to how fortunate I am , not having to deal with such things, and I expect that anyone else who has read this book would feel the same . As Maya Angelou takes us through her life, we as active readers can expect to feel lots of different emotions. Laugh or cry, you will really get involved in her story. This book has made a big impression on me , and I will definitely be reading her other books, in hope that it will be as good as this one.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
`I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' is the first part of Maya Angelou's six volume autobiography and looks at her life as a black child growing up in pre war America. She spends her time between the town of Stamps in the south and St Louis and California and is moved between her mother and grandmother for much of her childhood. Her grandmother gives her discipline, love, stoicism and devout belief in the lord and her mother gives her a belief in herself and a wild love of life. Maya has to deal with the various tribulations of growing up in a racist country during a time of cultural upheaval, as well as the terrible ordeal of being raped at the hands of one of her mothers boyfriends. She copes with all life throws at her with bravery and fortitude. This also focuses on the relationship she has with her brother, Bailey, and how they supported one another though the toughest times of their childhood. This book truly reads like a novel and Maya's style is beautiful and richly descriptive, so much so that at times you forget you are reading an autobiography. The world Maya paints for us can seem hostile and scary and yet you finish the book with a sense of hope and positivity. This is a profoundly moving book, that is exceptionally well written and is well worth a read at some point, even if you aren't a fan of biographies.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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