First published in 1845, Narrativeof the Life of Frederick Douglass is an eye-opening depiction of American slavery. Part autobiography, part human-rights treatise, it describes the everyday horrors inflicted on captive laborers, as well as the strength and courage needed to survive.
Born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1818, Frederick Douglass spent years secretly teaching himself to read and write—a crime for which he risked life and limb. After two failed escapes, Douglass finally, blessedly boarded a train in 1838 that would eventually lead him to New York City, and freedom.
Few books have done more to change America’s notion of African Americans than this seminal work. Beyond its historical and social relevancy, it is admired today for its gripping stories, intensity of spirit, and heartfelt humanity.
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Born into a life of bondage, Frederick Douglass secretly taught himself to read and write. It was a crime punishable by death, but it resulted in one of the most eloquent indictments of slavery ever recorded. His gripping narrative takes us into the fields, cabins, and manors of pre-Civil War plantations in the South and reveals the daily terrors he suffered as a slave.
Written more than a century and a half ago by an African-American who went on to become a famous orator, U.S. minister to Haiti, and leader of his people, this timeless classic still speaks directly to our age. It is a record of savagery and inhumanity that goes far to explain why America still suffers from the great injustices of the past.
With an Introduction by Peter J. Gomes
and an Afterword by Gregory Stephens
The preeminent American slave narrative first published in 1845, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative powerfully details the life of the abolitionist from his birth into slavery in 1818 to his escape to the North in 1838, how he endured the daily physical and spiritual brutalities of his owners and driver, how he learned to read and write, and how he grew into a man who could only live free or die. In addition to Douglass’s classic autobiography, this new edition also includes his most famous speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” and his only known work of fiction, The Heroic Slave, which was written, in part, as a response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this, the first and most frequently read of his three autobiographies, Douglass provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom.
Published in 1845 to quell doubts about his origins — since few slaves of that period could write — the Narrative is admired today for its extraordinary passion, sensitive and vivid descriptions and storytelling power. It belongs in the library of anyone interested in African-American history and the life of one of the country's most courageous and influential champions of civil rights. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
One of the most important figures of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass, was born into slavery but rose to become a tremendous orator, an impassioned abolitionist, and a representative of all who remained voiceless through slavery and oppression. His narrative resonates today with its eloquence, its incendiary history, and its profound and moving arguments for the humanity, and the equality, of Americans.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818. After his escape in 1838 he became an ardent abolitionist, and his autobiography was an instant bestseller upon publication in 1845. In it he describes with harrowing honesty his life as a slave – the cruelty he suffered at the hands of plantation owners; his struggles to educate himself in a world where slaves are deliberately kept ignorant; and ultimately, his fight for his right to freedom. A passionately written, intelligent and highly emotive indictment of slavery, his principle preoccupation was that slavery could be eradicated only through education. This text was key in helping to secure its eventual abolition.
In this first of his three autobiographies, Douglass relates graphic descriptions of his childhood, his shocking experiences as a slave, and his thrilling escape from slavery to safety in the North and his pivotal freedom.
Originally published in 1845, a date significant for the fact that very few African Americans could read or write at that time, this tale of sadness, danger, and eventual liberation will appeal to readers of all kinds. For those interested in African American history and the life of one of the most daring and heroic champions of civil rights, this page-turner is a perfect library addition.
1. A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a memoir and treatise on abolition written by former slave, Frederick Douglass. The text, first published in 1845, describes the events of his life and encompasses eleven chapters that recount Douglass' life as a slave and his ambition to become a free man. It is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.
2. The Heroic Slave, a heartwarming Narrative of the Adventures of Madison Washington, in Pursuit of Liberty is a short piece of fiction written by famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The novella, published in 1852, was Douglass' first and only published work of fiction.
3. My Bondage and My Freedom is an autobiographical slave narrative written by Douglass and published in 1855. The book describes in greater detail his transition from bondage to liberty.
4. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass is Frederick Douglass' third autobiography, published in 1881 and revised in 1892. Because of the emancipation of American slaves during and following the American Civil War, Douglas gave more details about his life as a slave and his escape from slavery in this volume than he could in his two previous autobiographies.
5. My Escape from Slavery was published in 1881 in The Century Illustrated Magazine. His fully revised autobiography was published as Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, also in 1881. In this book Douglass describes in vivid detail his escape by train from Maryland, where he was legally a slave, north to New York City.
6. Self-Made Men is a famous lecture (1895). In this speech he gives his own definition of the self-made man and explains what he thinks are the means to become such a man.
7. The Speeches & Writings section contains 6 seminal texts: What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852) - Reconstruction (1866) - An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage (1867) - Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln (1876) - The Color Line (1881) and The Future of the Colored Race (1886)
Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) was an African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing.
All Coterie Classics have been formatted for ereaders and devices and include a bonus link to the free audio book.
“I have observed this in my experience of slavery, - that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.” ― Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass’ first-person account of his journey from slave to educated and free transformed American thought and is an essential piece of reading from American history.
Included here are Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, W. E. B.
Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, and Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. These stirring accounts, significant testaments to our nation's past together in one volume, belong on the bookshelves of everyone interested in African-American history.
Commentary by Jean Fagan Yellin and Margaret Fuller
This Modern Library edition combines two of the most important African American slave narratives—crucial works that each illuminate and inform the other.
Frederick Douglass’s Narrative, first published in 1845, is an enlightening and incendiary text. Born into slavery, Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass’s own triumph over it.
Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacobs’s account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains essential reading.
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Born and brought up in slavery, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) experienced the horrors of bondage but gained freedom and world renown as a lecturer, editor, and one of the most important men behind the American abolitionist movement. This book is the deeply moving story of his life — as a slave, and as a free man.
Douglass wrote three autobiographies, of which the 1855 edition is the most detailed on his life as a slave. In it, readers are not spared the fullest and most graphic descriptions of the cruelty of slavery. Douglass describes his life on a Maryland plantation: the excitement and danger of teaching himself to read and write, his demoralization under a cruel master, and his daring escape.
In the second part of his tale, Douglass, now a fugitive, settles in Massachusetts and joins the anti-slavery movement. He recounts his travels to the British Isles and his first taste of freedom without prejudice, and his return to America to work as spokesman for his oppressed people. In addition to recording his sufferings and his protests, Douglass also provides a keen analysis of the effects of slavery on its victims as well as on society at large.
Based on a true story, Frederick Douglass' The Heroic Slave is a dramatic fictional retelling of how the determined and courageous Madison Washington led a slave rebellion aboard the ship Creole. In Clotel, the first novel ever written by an African American, William Wells Brown tells a prophetic story about a child conceived by Thomas Jefferson and one of his slaves. And in Our Nig, Harriet E. Wilson's heartrending semi-autobiographical tale, she describes the life of a mulatto girl who, after the death of her mother, is exploited by a terrifying Northern family . . . and then, by the man she marries. Emotionally powerful and historically authentic, this collection is essential reading for students and teachers of African-American history and culture.
This book includes representative selections from the speeches and writings of this great statesman, with topics focusing on the slave trade, the Civil War, suffrage for African-Americans, reconstruction in the South, and other vital issues.
A powerful voice for human rights throughout much of the 19th century, Douglass remains highly respected today for his fight against racial injustice.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is perhaps the most widely read and well-known slave narrative. Originally published in 1845, the work was an instant success, selling more than 11,000 copies in the first three years. Written as a memoir of his life and experiences, the book addresses the issues of slavery from a firsthand perspective with a sage eloquence. The narrative draws from various points of Douglass’s life in stark detail: the cruelty he experienced as a slave, his escape to freedom, and how he became a famous orator and abolitionist.
Initially, early skeptics had a hard time accepting that such a profound text was written by an uneducated African American slave. However, this theory was quickly disproven when he spoke in public, famously giving extraordinarily articulate speeches. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is no exception to Douglass’s vigor, poise, and wit he exemplified in his oration. Here is a story of a man who faced extreme hardship and adversity—and rose above it to write one of the most important and influential books in history.
My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.
My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant—before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child's affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.
I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night. She was hired by a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve miles from my home. She made her journeys to see me in the night, travelling the whole distance on foot, after the performance of her day's work. She was a field hand, and a whipping is the penalty of not being in the field at sunrise, unless a slave has special permission from his or her master to the contrary—a permission which they seldom get, and one that gives to him that gives it the proud name of being a kind master. I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day. She was with me in the night. She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone. Very little communication ever took place between us. Death soon ended what little we could have while she lived, and with it her hardships and suffering. She died when I was about seven years old, on one of my master's farms, near Lee's Mill. I was not allowed to be present during her illness, at her death, or burial. She was gone long before I knew any thing about it. Never having enjoyed, to any considerable extent, her soothing presence, her tender and watchful care, I received the tidings of her death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger.
A bestseller when published in 1845, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was an influential text in the anti-slavery movement, and the power and clarity of Douglass’s writing were a credible counter-argument to the prejudiced opinions towards African-Americans held by many at the time.
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Frederick Douglass’s powerful autobiographical account of life in bondage, his triumphant escape to freedom, and his analysis of slavery as a condition.
Enriched Classics enhance your engagement by introducing and explaining the historical and cultural significance of the work, the author’s personal history, and what impact this book had on subsequent scholarship. Each book includes discussion questions that help clarify and reinforce major themes and reading recommendations for further research.
Read with confidence.
Featured addresses include "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" which was delivered on July 5, 1852, more than ten years before the Emancipation Proclamation. "Had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke," Douglass assured his listeners, "For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake." Other eloquent and dramatic orations include "Self-Made Men," first delivered in 1859, which defines the principles behind individual success, and "The Church and Prejudice," delivered at the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society in 1841.
Here is the threshold of a hell for young Cupcake. Rather than being allowed to live with the man she believed to be her father--who turns out to have been her stepfather--she is forced into a foster home where the kids were terrorized, the refrigerator padlocked, and Cupcake sexually abused. She eventually fled the house, only to find herself wandering from misadventure to misadventure in the "system," while also developing a massive appetite for drugs and alcohol, an appetite she paid for by turning tricks. She settled down in Los Angeles and found a home in the Crips, where she was taken in and befriended by gangsters like the legendary "Monster" Kody Scott. For the first time she found a family, but when Cupcake was blasted in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun, she was once more taken in by the system.
At 16, her stepfather reeneters her life and engineers an "emancipation," in which the courts declare her an adult and free her, finally, from the child welfare system. Cup takes advantage of her new freedom to start a drug-dealing operation with her stepfather, who also manages a stable of colorful prostitutes. Soon she meets a man, falls in love, and gets married. He convinces her to get a real job and learn to speak proper English--but he also abuses her and introduces her to crack cocaine. Cupcake flits from job to job, miraculously, given that she never fails to show up without some cocktail of narcotics floating in her system.
She hits rock bottom when, in desperation, she steals crack from her drug dealer. He beats her nearly to death, rapes her, and then leaves her body behind a dumpster. Cupcake wakes up days later, not sure of how she ended up in this state and from that moment begins to turn her life around. She was adopted by a lawyer who ran the law firm where she "worked," and slowly he assisted her in kicking the habit--with the help of an eccentric group of fellow addicts who became, at last, a family to her--and catching up on her education. With the support of her new family, she eventurally goes all the way to law school (although not without a few additional misadventures along the way) and joins one of the top law firms in the country.
Cupcake's story is an inspiring, at times hilarious, often distrubing, and deeply moving account of a singular woman who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with wit and a ferocious will. It updates classic memoirs like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Makes Me Wanna Holler, and gives a bold and gritty spin to contemporary memoirs like Finding Fish. At the center of it, Cupcake is a charming and inspiring narrator through the inferno of her life.
From the Compact Disc edition.
With its first great victory in the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the civil rights movement gained the powerful momentum it needed to sweep forward into its crucial decade, the 1960s. As voices of protest and change rose above the din of history and false promises, one voice sounded more urgently, more passionately, than the rest. Malcolm X—once called the most dangerous man in America—challenged the world to listen and learn the truth as he experienced it. And his enduring message is as relevant today as when he first delivered it.
In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement to veteran writer and journalist Alex Haley . In a unique collaboration, Haley worked with Malcolm X for nearly two years, interviewing, listening to, and understanding the most controversial leader of his time.
Raised in Lansing, Michigan, Malcolm Little journeyed on a road to fame as astonishing as it was unpredictable. Drifting from childhood poverty to petty crime, Malcolm found himself in jail. It was there that he came into contact with the teachings of a little-known Black Muslim leader renamed Elijah Muhammad. The newly renamed Malcolm X devoted himself body and soul to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the world of Islam, becoming the Nation’s foremost spokesman. When his conscience forced him to break with Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity to reach African Americans across the country with an inspiring message of pride, power, and self-determination.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X defines American culture and the African American struggle for social and economic equality that has now become a battle for survival. Malcolm’s fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.
Praise for The Autobiography of Malcolm X
“Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.”—Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father
“Extraordinary . . . a brilliant, painful, important book.”—The New York Times
“A great book . . . Its dead level honesty, its passion, its exalted purpose, will make it stand as a monument to the most painful truth.”—The Nation
“The most important book I’ll ever read, it changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage I didn’t know I had inside me. I’m one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were changed for the better.”—Spike Lee
“This book will have a permanent place in the literature of the Afro-American struggle.”—I. F. Stone
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin
From the Paperback edition.
The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.
For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.
Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.
Praise for Mom & Me & Mom
“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post
“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People
“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle
“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
“True to her style, [Angelou’s] writing cuts to the chase with compression and simplicity, and there in the background is a calypso smoothness, flurries and showers of musicality between the moments of wickedness. . . . A tightly strung, finely tuned memoir about life with her mother.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this loving recollection of a complicated relationship, Angelou for the first time details the mother-daughter journey to reconciliation and unwavering connection and support. . . . Angelou vividly portrays a spirited woman. . . . [A] remarkable and deeply revealing chronicle of love and healing.”—Booklist
“Written with her customary eloquence . . . follows in the episodic style of Angelou’s earlier volumes of autobiography, pulling the reader along effortlessly. The lessons and the love presented here will speak to those trying to make their way in the world.”—Publishers Weekly
“In straightforward style, Mom & Me & Mom dives deeply into Angelou’s complicated relationship with her mother. . . . At 84, Angelou shows few signs of slowing down.”—BookPage
In this now classic autobiography, she details the sights, smells, and suffering of growing up in a racist society and candidily reveals the soul of a black girl who had the courage to challenge it. The result is a touchstone work: an accurate, authoritative portrait of black family life in the rural South and a moving account of a woman's indomitable heart.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography.
The incredible modern classic that launched James McBride’s literary career.
Over two years on The New York Times bestseller list
Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.
The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.
In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.
At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.
Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.
In this often violent but always introspective memoir, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy tells his much anticipated story of struggle, survival, and hope down the mean streets of New York City. For the first time, he gives an intimate look at his family background, his battles with drugs, his life of crime, his relentless suffering with sickle-cell anemia, and much more. Recently released after serving three and a half years in state prison due to what many consider an unlawful arrest by a rumored secret NYPD hip hop task force, Prodigy is ready to talk about his life as one of rap’s greatest legends.
My Infamous Life is an unblinking account of Prodigy’s wild times with Mobb Deep who, alongside rappers like Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan, changed the musical landscape with their vivid portrayals of early ’90s street life. It is a firsthand chronicle of legendary rap feuds like the East Coast–West Coast rivalry; Prodigy’s beefs with Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, and Capone-N-Noreaga; and run-ins with prodigal hit makers and managers like Puff Daddy, Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty, Irv Gotti, and Lyor Cohen.
Taking the reader behind the smoke-and-mirrors glamour of the hip hop world, so often seen as the only way out for those with few options, Prodigy lays down the truth about the intoxicating power of money, the meaning of true friendship and loyalty, and the ultimately redemptive power of self. This is the heartbreaking journey of a child born in privilege, his youth spent among music royalty like Diana Ross and Dizzy Gillespie, educated in private schools, until a family tragedy changed everything. Raised in the mayhem of the Queensbridge projects, Prodigy rose to the dizzying heights of fame and eventually fell into the darkness of a prison cell.
A truly candid memoir, part fearless confessional and part ode to the concrete jungles of New York City, My Infamous Life is written by a man who was on the front line of the last great moment in hip hop history and who is still fighting to achieve his very own American Dream.
Published during a literary era marked by the ascendance of black writers such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Alex Haley, this thinly fictionalized account of Claude Brown’s childhood as a hardened, streetwise criminal trying to survive the toughest streets of Harlem has been heralded as the definitive account of everyday life for the first generation of African Americans raised in the Northern ghettos of the 1940s and 1950s.
When the book was first published in 1965, it was praised for its realistic portrayal of Harlem—the children, young people, hardworking parents; the hustlers, drug dealers, prostitutes, and numbers runners; the police; the violence, sex, and humor.
The book continues to resonate generations later, not only because of its fierce and dignified anger, not only because the struggles of urban youth are as deeply felt today as they were in Brown’s time, but also because of its inspiring message. Now with an introduction by Nathan McCall, here is the story about the one who “made it,” the boy who kept landing on his feet and grew up to become a man.
When his L.A. neighborhood was threatened by gangbangers, Stanley Tookie Williams and a friend formed the Crips, but what began as protection became worse than the original gangs. From deadly street fights with their rivals to drive-by shootings and stealing cars, the Crips' influence -- and Tookie's reputation -- began to spread across L.A. Soon he was regularly under police surveillance, and, as a result, was arrested often, though always released because the charges did not stick. But in 1981, Tookie was convicted of murdering four people and was sent to death row at San Quentin in Marin County, California.
Tookie maintained his innocence and began to work in earnest to prevent others from following his path. Whether he was creating nationwide peace protocols, discouraging adolescents from joining gangs, or writing books, Tookie worked tirelessly for the rest of his life to end gang violence. Even after his death, his legacy continues, supported by such individuals as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Snoop Dogg, Jesse Jackson, and many more.
This posthumous edition of Blue Rage, Black Redemption features a foreword by Tavis Smiley and an epilogue by Barbara Becnel, which details not only the influence of Tookie's activism but also her eyewitness account of his December 2005 execution, and the inquest that followed.
By turns frightening and enlightening, Blue Rage, Black Redemption is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and an invaluable lesson in how rage can be turned into redemption.