Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
A New Critical Edition by Angela Y. Davis
African American Review
"Just as Douglass was dedicated to abolishing the institution that imprisoned him and his people, Davis is dedicated to abolishing the institution that imprisoned her and still imprisons millions of Americans, mostly people of color: the modern American prison system." -- H. Bruce Franklin
Drums in the Global Village
"The two pioneering feminists [Davis and Douglass] merge together, in theory and in practice, on the nature(s) of liberation. In this book of merged centuries, freedom travels from idea to action (creating resistance) to finally, negotiating a complex reality. Davis, in 2009: 'Many of us thought [in the 1960s and 1970s] that liberation was simply a question of organizing to leverage power from the hands of those we deemed to be the oppressors.' An idea whose time has gone in the Obama era, one in which, supposedly, the ultimate power has been leveraged, but from whom and for what? This new version of an old book is a perfect excuse to analyze (Douglass' and Davis') views of freedom as we continue to debate the Black movement's purpose in the second decade of the new century."
Rebecca Hensley, Changeseeker
"The bottom line is that Frederick Douglass' narrative should be required reading for every person in the United States. But more to the point, it should be on the bookshelf in every home in America. The passion, the beauty, and the truth of Douglass' work is such that it calls into question not only the peculiar institution of slavery, but the ongoing acceptance of White Supremacy as the default position in this nation today." —Rebecca Hensley, Changeseeker
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
"This edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass contains two previously unpublished 'Lectures on Liberation' by Angela Davis, delivered at the start of her controversial appointment at UCLA in 1969… An introduction Davis wrote in 2009 adds a look back at the lectures and speculates about the continuing relevance of Douglass’ text. Davis’ lectures apply methods from Hegelian and Marxist philosophy to an analysis of alienation, freedom, resistance, and liberation in the life of the slave, while her introduction focuses more on recent feminist readings critiquing Douglass… [providing] an interesting window onto the intellectual landscape of the 1960s. . . .Recommended. All levels/Libraries." - G. Jay
The Midwest Book Review
"Being an educated man of color was a true anomaly in his day. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written By Himself discusses Douglass's famous autobiography as Angela Y. Davis offers much studious insight on the matters she examines Douglass's writings and how the man embraced intellectualism and spirituality to pull himself out of his subservient life in a society that thought of him as an animal. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a must for anyone trying to get a greater understanding of the black icon."
". . . the newly released Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself: A New Critical Edition (City Lights Books) brings together two of the great philosophical writers and racial justice activists of the last two centuries and combines the deeply personal writings of Frederick Douglass with several politically charged lectures given by Angela Y. Davis in the early 1970s. . . . Even for those who have never studied either writer in depth, Davis explores the many ways we can interpret Douglass's anti-slavery writing today and draws parallels between the continued oppression of women and prisoners. . . . The breadth of Davis's work in the past two decades is an inspiring example of bridge-building across causes and generations. That her contemporary activism can be coupled so flawlessly with Douglass’s historic writings and powerful legacy speaks to the importance of their combined influence spanning centuries. . . . At a time when the freedoms once granted by the Fourteenth Amendment are now being applied to corporate entities, cannabilizing the legacy of freed slaves in the United States, this book — Davis’s call for a more engaged electorate — is wonderfully timely and deeply engaging."
— Brittany Shoot
Todd S. Burroughs
"[Davis] uses Douglass to examine the philosophy of freedom. . . . [She] dissects Douglass' strengths and pitfalls of how he defined freedom — a definition that, Davis explains, leaves enslaved women behind as symbols of oppression, unable to achieve the "manhood" Douglass equates with his liberation. . . . The two pioneering feminists merge together, in theory and in practice, on the nature(s) of liberation. In this book of merged centuries, freedom travels from idea to action (creating resistance) to finally, negotiating a complex reality."
"In her most diplomatic method, Davis proves what I never realized until now: The Black American slave era was not so much about Blacks and slavery as it was about the state of all humanity. . . . Davis shows in this very compelling volume that Frederick Douglass was simply a man. And what all men and women were meant to be . . . free."
"Douglass' description of his life in slavery, his resistance, and his flight to freedom could not be more timely or more meaningful to students. At a time when education officials are wringing their hands about how difficult it is to teach black students literacy, Douglass demonstrates how the struggle for literacy has always been a part of the struggle for liberation. . . . This is where Angela Davis injects her considerable insight. Her introduction connects Douglass' critique to the struggles for liberation in the 60's and 70's, demonstrating the same courage, audacity, and clarity of vision that was required to see through and defy the slave system."