Frederick Douglass was a major figure in the era leading up to the Civil War, and the furious debates raging about the nature and fate of the "peculiar institution" of slavery at the time. Born a slave, brutalized and beaten down for much of his early life, Douglass ran away, educated himself, and became a major voice and major celebrity within the abolitionist movement. Eloquent, dignified, and forceful, he was an important personality in the growth of the abolitionist movement, and someone in our history that everyone should know about. This book was a sensation in it's time, exposing to the general population what the real conditions of slavery were, and what they entailed. It turned thousands against slavery, and was an important influence on the opinions of many who were ambivalent. A century and a half later, it is still a powerful testament of the time, and a powerful story of a man overcoming his circumstances to become something better.