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Publisher's Summary

Douglass spent his first 20 years in slavery, before escaping to the North. As a slave, he experienced both the kindness of his master's wife, who taught him to read, as well as the cruelty of sadistic overseers. This powerful story helped recruit many to the abolitionist cause.
(P)2005 Tantor Media Inc.

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  • Overall

Perhaps it's better than nothing...

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.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • HARLINGEN, TEXAS, United States
  • 01-02-12

Jonathan Reese narrates Douglass Autobiography

Would you consider the audio edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to be better than the print version?

No; I could never denigrate Douglass's original writing, although the audio is great.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass?

Douglass writes persuasively of the horrors of slavery; one of the memorable examples is the beating of Frederick's Aunt Hester.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Reese – was your favorite?

Douglass, as expressed in first person

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Douglass' book is analagous to Martin Luther King's speeches in influencing American equality of races.

Any additional comments?

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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INSPIRING!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Auto Biography all living in USA

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Book

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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feeling on edge and chilled

the details had me feeling like someone was scratching over a chalkboard. the reading could've been more animated to fit the situations intensity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • FAIR OAKS, CA, United States
  • 10-16-14

Best Story about Slavery Ever Written

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Book

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The silver trump' of Freedom sounds loudly

Where does Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The book is one of the shortest but one of the most powerful.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author himself.

What about Jonathan Reese’s performance did you like?

Jonathan sounds like a what I imagine a white guy living in the North reading Douglas' book for the first time would sound like haha. Joking aside, Reese's matter of fact delivery wasn't what I was expecting, but in contrasts with the brutality of chattel slavery cataloged in the book in a very jarring and effective way.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither, but it sticks with you. It makes you sober if nothing else.

Any additional comments?

One of American history's most important primary sources.

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A must read

I ate it up like the last peice of cake! What an amazing depiction of the life of a slave.