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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 April 2013
If you want to try and understand the background and aftermath to the American civil war then this is one of those books you simply have to read. Douglass's biography is a compelling and articulate account of a man's journey to freedom and his life as a slave and after. Douglass was an eloquent and tireless campaigner for abolitionist policies and was an active and vocal opponent of those in the North who baulked when Lincoln ennacted the Emancipation Proclamation, particularly as it only emancipated slaves in the secessionist states - it was still legal to own slaves in the North. An authentic history written by a truely brave and inspirational individual, one who lived his life so people could be free.
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on 2 May 2011
This is one of those books that should be compulsory in schools, as it brings the reality of the slave trade home in a way I have never seen before. It is shocking, moving and emotional.

The life that this young lady had as a slave is quite terrible and the treatment of her can only be described as appalling, yet at the same time it makes it clear that compared to most slaves the life that she had and her treatment was quite good, many of the incidents she retells about other slaves are just too shocking for words.

One of the most shocking things I got from the book was that most of the slave owners actually thought that what they where doing and the way they kept and treated slaves, including killing, torturing and raping them was completely acceptable, simply due to the fact that as slave owners they where white and the slaves where not, the book shows that this sort of treatment was not the exception from one or two 'bad' slave owners but was in fact considered to be quite normal and acceptable by a large proportion of the population. At the same time though it must not be forgotten that there where many white people in the Southern states who did all they could to help this young woman and other slaves either hide or flee to the north. It all so gives some indication of the norths involvement in slavery, which until reading this I had not realised. This book really brings alive and brings home one of the saddest periods in US history and also the history of those countries who supplied the slaves.

This book is quite shocking in places, both in the incidents it tells and also in the language it uses. The language it uses is that of the time, and as such uses many words to describe the slaves that are quite offensive and rightly not at all acceptable today.

This is a book that should be read, but be prepared to be shocked and moved.
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on 21 March 2012
This is a fantastic book. I like a story written with such skill that you become immersed in the characters and you read on as if you are there. Here we have that in spades working down through the generations of the family. Hollywood has given all of us a picture of the indignity and cruelty of the slave owners and traders towards the slaves, so that part of the story isn't new to the reader. What I found new to me was the inner feelings of hopelessness that these unfortunate people felt. Anyone who has been subjected to the intense military training in an elite regiment will know how it feels to be bullied all hours day and night without any means to retaliate. What we had though was an end point, we knew how long the training would go on for and also our release date from the forces. The unfortunate slaves had no end point to look forward to, they had no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel. We are made aware in the modern world how cruel humans can become when they have total control over someone, e.g. prisoners of war etc. It is easy to become like animals in our behaviour. Have we made progress towards civilisation in the past 100 years? Do we still have the capacity to treat people as objects?
Having read the book it has made me think a bit more deeply and I worry that given the circumstances we are no different from the slave owners of yesteryear. The writer wanted the world to know what it was like to live as a slave and she has succeeded after all these years through writing her story to make me understand her problems and the problems still facing society at large. We owe it to her to read her story carefully.
The only criticism that I have is in understanding who wrote the book as we see it, the author or the editors and compilers. Whoever deserves the credit, they did a fine job.
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on 21 July 2017
Most are of course aware of the outline of historical slavery in America through books and other media. There were therefore large parts of the book which told a familiar story. What really provoked thought however was the less familiar aspects - no "spoilers" here - which really re-emphasised the impact on individuals.
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on 24 May 2010
This is a brief life story, written in 1845, by an ex-slave. At the time of writing he was technically an escaped slave. He later had his freedom bought for him by some English people.

Douglass is a very intelligent, brave and resourceful man and he describes slavery in Maryland, a state supposedly kinder to slaves than the deep South.

Apart from the horror of the living conditions and treatment, what stands out for me is his denunciation of the Christian society which the slaveowners subscribed to. This is in the Appendix, which I think some editions don't have. (The Penguin does). According to Douglass the more pious they were, the more likely to be cruel. I hasten to add Douglass himself was a Christian too. Towards the end of the book is a long quotation from the New Testament about Philistines and hypocrites.

It's powerful stuff.
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on 6 September 2014
This book was easy to read and one you could leave and go back to. Some of the events in this ladies life are shocking and it saddens me that humans can be so cruel and disgusting to their fellow humans.

This women does not have a worldwide recognition, or a museum/statue etc (Anne Frank) , however she should. The strength and determination of this women is unbelievable, she keeps going and going.

I recommend this book , it's a lesson needing to be learned.
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on 6 August 2017
LIFE changing piece of literature from the start. The struggles, striving, trials and tribulations faced by F. Douglas and many of people way back then and still today! History, or the gruesome tale of OURSTORY.
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on 8 October 2011
This is a book beautifully written about a difficult time in American history. If you are white and have any feelings that you are superior to our black brothers and sisters, please read this book. The author writes with such emotion and intellegence about her time in slavery that at times made me weep. How man can treat his fellow man is beyond me. Like reading the diary of Anne Frank, we should all read this to purge any racist thoughts. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the author has conveyed a believable narrative showing much love, warmth and compassion. Her desciptions of the characters in her life's long and arduous journey were beyond convincing; they were frighteningly real.
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on 31 March 2018
A great book that gives a first-hand account of so-called white god-loving Whites did to Black slaves. It is insightful in the sense of how evil people can be and how they can use their religion to justify their vile actions.
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on 21 March 2016
An absolutely gripping story, all the more for it being true in all details (except the necessary name-changes). If anyone had rose-tinted spectacles about the old South, listening to Stephen Foster's sentimental plantation songs for instance, then this memoir will be a real eye-opener. You might need a stiff drink and a clean hankie by you.
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