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Frederick Douglass

Prophet of Freedom
Narrated by: Prentice Onayemi
Length: 36 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (200 ratings)
Regular price: $37.79
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Publisher's Summary

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African American of the 19th century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence, he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. 

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely traveled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the US as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights. 

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’ newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’ two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

©2018 David W. Blight (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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  • Overall
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Great content; plodding performance

The content of this book presents unparalleled insights into a character of unappreciated historical importance. However, the listen is laboriously ponderous. The reader attempts to impart profound importance to every sentence by overemphasizing each word with unduly prolonged spacing, reminiscent of those who seek the same effect by placing a Period. After. Every. Word. This book would have been much more enjoyable, and a much shorter listen, had the performer read at a normal pace.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Biography

I have not previously read any biographies of Frederick Douglass. I was aware of him from other history books or biographies. But this is an excellent biography.

I was aware of David Blight from the podcast of one of his Yale history courses but I have not read another one of his books. This was very well written and well researched. I am looking forward to reading it again in a couple years after I read some of Douglass' autobiographies directly.

Douglass is a fascinating figure.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • Kansas-Nebraska
  • 11-10-18

The Best of Everything Audible

Let’s face it, some history doesn’t fit the audio format well. FD’s story is tailor made for it. When told by a great author like Mr. Blight and so wonderfully narrated, the combination is sublime.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Great!

This books shows an incredible man and his family life in a thought provoking way.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A great American who really had an impact on USA

Truly an amazing man who helped shape history and change minds and policy when he could. The readers soft voice took me a while to warm up to but the story kept me very interested in Frederick Douglass. The author would have done a better job if he could have left his personal political biases out of the book. Mr Blight seems to go out of his way to criticize one party's short comings while not even really discussing the other party more in passing or an off comment remark. This is still a must read though but needs to be followed up with additional reading on the time from other authors.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Best Book and Reading!

Gotta Love this Reader and the Story of Frederick Douglass. I could mot put it down, falling asleep a few times and rewinding to the last page I could remember. I will surely keep this top of list to read every now and then. Amen.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Prentice Onayemi's narration is beautiful.

Prison abolition needs us to listen and absorb this revolutionary history of struggle to overthrow whiteness
forever.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW

David Blight offers a nuanced biography of Fredrick Douglass, a great 19th century American leader. Blight shows Douglass to rival the intelligence and charisma of the best known 20th and 21st century black Americans. Like Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, and Barrack Obama, Douglass faces down poverty and demonstrates the equality of all human beings. Malcolm Little, King, and Obama never face the lash of slavery, but Blight shows how Douglass pushes aside physical and cultural cruelty to demand freedom and equality of all.

Though shown to begin in peace, Blight shows how Douglass grows to understand peace will not only come from words alone but must come from action. Douglass came to revere the anti-slavery violence of John Brown. John Brown is neither lionized or vindicated by Blight but is shown as a turning point; a turning from moral suasion to action by people of color against slavery. Courageously, Douglass attacks the institution of slavery before, during, and after the American Civil War. Douglass becomes the conscience of white and black America.

Blight shows Douglass, like all human beings, is imperfect. He has blind spots when speaking of freedom and equality. Douglass discounts American decimation of native Americans and denial of womens rights by arguing neither compares to slavery, subjugation, and murder of blacks.

The laws of human nature require equal treatment of all. That is the essence of what Blight is writing about in the life of Frederick Douglass.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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The sound of rollerskating in sand

It got a real good review in the Wall Street Journal so I bought it. Now I can only listen to about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. This reader sounds like James Earl Jones on qualudes.

I am still really interested in this biography but - DUDE!!! - speed up the delivery. Not EVERY sentence is sententious.

Given the importance of the topic, the size of the book, and the prestige of the publisher, Audible could have gotten Samuel L. Jackson or Wesley Snipes or who ever. Someone to give it some LIFE!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Marvelous bio

Marvelous bio. Especially appreciated African-American perspective on Civil War issues. Narration was bit slow but accellerating it to 1.25 speed corrected that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful