Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave

Cosimo, Inc.
117
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"Now," said he, "if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it would do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy." These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation... -from Chapter VI It may be a measure of how far we have come, as a nation and as human beings, to feel shock to realize that one of the greatest Americans ever to have graced the cultural stage-editor, orator, author, statesman, and reformer FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-1895)-was born into bondage, merely by dint of the color of his skin. Taught to read and write by the wife of his owner, however, he escaped into an intellectual world that would become his extraordinary battleground for the freedom of those enslaved and, indeed, for the future of the United States. This work, first published in 1845, is the first of three autobiographies Douglass penned, and it became one of the most influential documents of a life in slavery ever written, as well as a powerful spur to the then-burgeoning abolitionist movement. From his childhood of abuse, neglect, and separation from family to his dramatic escape to the North, this is a stunning work of both literature and politics. An absolute classic not only of African-American history but of the history of the advance of human civilization, this is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the turbulent story of the United States in the 19th century.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Cosimo, Inc.
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Published on
Dec 1, 2008
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Pages
96
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ISBN
9781605204284
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
History / United States / 19th Century
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eleven-year-old Cupcake Brown woke up on the bicentennial and found her mother still in bed. She struggled to wake her up, pushing and pulling until she managed to tug her mother's lifeless corpse onto her own small body, crushing her beneath its dead weight. After squeezing out from under her mother, Cupcake calmly walked over to the phone and called her aunt Lori. "Lori, my momma's dead."

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.
If I ever wavered under the consideration, that the Almighty, in some way, ordained slavery, and willed my enslavement for his own glory, I wavered no longer. I had now penetrated the secret of all slavery and oppression, and had ascertained their true foundation to be in the pride, the power and the avarice of man. -from Chapter XI: "A Change Came O'er the Spirit of My Dream" He is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the nation: editor, orator, author, statesman, and reformer FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-1895) arrived on the national scene in 1841 to such universal acclaim that it seemed impossible for his admirers to conceive that he had been born and raised within chains. The first of his three autobiographies, 1845's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (also available from Cosimo), was written mainly to explain how he accomplished this astonishing feat. This, the second of his life stories, was published in 1855, and offers a more in-depth and-though seemingly impossible-even more thoughtful exploration of his life as a slave and his journey to escape it than his first book had. Douglass also discusses the challenges of life not only as a free man but as a famous one much in demand, as a public speaker in the Northern States and in Great Britain as well. This edition also includes the original publication's appendix, which features letters and speeches by the great man. A foundational work of African-American literature and a vital document of 19th-century American history, this is the extraordinary tale of a personal battle for freedom that became a fight for the very soul of a nation.
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