(P)2005 Tantor Media Inc.
Perhaps it's better than nothing...
But it is a shame that, as important as The Narrative of the LIfe of Fredrick Douglas is to the American literary and historical traditions, both versions available to Audible listeners are woefully deficient.
The narrators of either version--Jonathan Reese (this one) and Charles Turner (the other)--possess all of the timing skill of child actors performing a cold readings of Shakespeare and possess the vocal inflective talents expected of people who are nearly stone deaf. Considering that Douglas was one of the greatest oratory talents in the history of the United States, these grossly deficient narrators' inept representations of his great rhetorical work is an insult to his memory.
In addition to the undeniable technical insufficiencies that render listening nearly unbearable, neither version includes the essential "qualifying" documents written by William Lloyd Garrison or Wendell Phillips that are representative of slave narratives and inseparable reminders of the disenfranchisement of black people even in the free North.
If you still feel you must purchase one version or the other, that which is narrated by Turner has a more informative introduction at the cost of a laughably wretched narrator; and the version with Reese is slightly less talentless, with only a brief introduction, but even the highest quality (4) format has consistent low-bitrate digital distortion throughout. Since I find the introduction of either version to be sub-academic (and thus not worth the bother), my recommendation would be the Reese narration.
No; I could never denigrate Douglass's original writing, although the audio is great.
Douglass writes persuasively of the horrors of slavery; one of the memorable examples is the beating of Frederick's Aunt Hester.
Douglass, as expressed in first person
Douglass' book is analagous to Martin Luther King's speeches in influencing American equality of races.
The narration was so effective that as I was using the audible.com version to help my Engish III students, someone in the hallway thought that I was simply showing movies to my students on those days, and I had to explain to my supervisor that we were using audible.com to help my students understand Douglass's writing. Thanks for a great job!
This book is very inspiring. Some of his quotes will have you change your way of thinking. It makes you want to let go of your fear, and go for what you want; no matter the consequences. I picked this book up only to know more about my history. I was not expecting it to be this good. I will definitely be reading this book again, and I will be referring it to my friends.
Somehow in my education I missed the requirement to read this book. It is the most compelling testament of the evils of slavery in the US during the 19th century I have read to date because it is a first hand account that is extremely well thought out.
These are often hard to read - just because they are true and these men and women suffered tremendously. But as a Black American, I want to know the truth.
It is a good book and enlightening to know the great accomplishments and amazing obstacles he overcame. Recommend.
the details had me feeling like someone was scratching over a chalkboard. the reading could've been more animated to fit the situations intensity.
I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.
I read this well over a year ago, before I read Uncle Tom's Cabin and a few other well known books on the subject, and I have to say this is the best of the log by far. Douglass can really write, and can really show the evils of slavery, he makes the rest seem like cheap imitations.
Every American student should be required to read this book. It is an amazing story of the life of Frederick Douglas, a true hero of his time.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, by Frederick Douglass, narrated by Jonathan Reese. This is an 1845 autobiographical history of Mr. Douglass’ life as a slave and how he obtained his freedom, and matriculated into the American society, if not as an unburdened citizen, at least as distinctive and achieved inhabitant of these United States. I read this work in succession with Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, and then The Souls of Black Fold, by W.E.B. DuBois.
The book’s style of writing is straight forward yet leaden as to its flow. Yet nevertheless enthralling. I lays out all the horrors of slavery that Mr. Douglass personally experienced in his life. Mr. Douglass teaches us (reminds us) that having absolute power over other human beings innately brings out a demonic nature in the masters; and describes all the torturous evils by which the slaves were treated in the rural lands was abominable.
Mr. Douglas caught a fortunate break in his life when as a child he was sent to Baltimore to wait on a newlywed wife of his master’s relations. When he got there the wife was kind and welcoming and taught him reading. When that fact was learned by her husband, she was admonished; as, it was explained to her, teaching blacks (a more negative word was used) would threaten control of their beings. The courteous and affectionate wife, in trying to live up to the standards required of her in relationship to slaves became fiendish herself.
Mr. Douglass’s explanation of evil - that lies naturally in the hearts of mankind – extends to those who profess religion. Mr. Douglass’ experiences with the religious taught him, as he explains, the more religious the parishioners the more brutal were they their slaves. Quite a dichotomy.
Mr. Douglas though had a very strong character and a natural understanding that he was no less of humankind than his enslavers; with that strength in hand Mr. Douglas takes us along as his thinking develops. Therein he provides an analysis of what might lie in the minds of both the slave masters and the slaves and the philosophical underpinnings of the slave system in the United States.
Because of the mistreatment this is not an easy book to read but one that should be read. This book is credited with being a seed for the growth of abolitionism.
Referencing back to my self-imposed trilogy on antebellum, postbellum and the turn of the 20th century look back on slavery and its lingering effects in America, I can conclude: Mr. Douglass teaches us the evil underpinnings of slavery and therein how to strengthen oneself against its dehumanization, Mr. Washington, preaches goodness and conformity will eventuate into complete assimilation. Mr. DuBois poetically, but with hypocrisy, explains the social distraught with which we even today remain infested.
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