Staff Pick

The story of Douglass’s rise from runaway slave to leading abolitionist, writer, and orator has been told before, not least by Douglass himself in not one but three autobiographies. Still, David W. Blight’s extensively researched, richly textured biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, reveals fresh details and provides a deeper appreciation of the complexities and paradoxes of the most important African American of the 19th century. Drawing on previously unpublished materials discovered in a private collection in Georgia, Blight, a Yale history professor, not only examines Douglass’ voluminous writings and speeches but also delves into his two marriages, other relationships, and complex extended family. While Blight clearly admires Douglass’ brilliant intellect, literary talents, and oratorical skills, he offers a balanced view of his subject’s many sides and turbulent life.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Cover Image
$37.50
ISBN: 9781416590316
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 16th, 2018

Staff Pick

Zora Neale Hurston’s first book was written in 1931 but wasn’t published until 2018. Not yet a fiction writer, Hurston wrote Barracoon (Amistad, $24.99) as a budding cultural anthropologist hoping to add a much needed chapter to the historical record on slavery, which still contains little from the point of view of the enslaved. She spent several months in Alabama meeting with eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis (c. 1841-1935), the last living African survivor of the Middle Passage. Prompted by Hurston to recount his memories of slavery, Cudjo, or as he preferred to be called, Kossola, his original name, assumed the role of the griot and delivered an extraordinary series of stories. Starting with his early life, Kossola, the second son of a second wife, cataloged the traditional African ways he grew up with, and that he missed to his dying day. He then delivered a harrowing account of being captured at age nineteen by members of a rival African kingdom and sold with some one hundred fellow villagers to Americans who illegally smuggled them to the U.S. where they were sold again—into slavery. Hurston wisely lets Kossola tell his own story, and she brilliantly conveys the lilt and cadences of his patois. His voice is mesmerizing, and the terrible grief and loneliness he suffered is at times nearly unbearable.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last
By Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker (Foreword by), Deborah G. Plant (Introduction by)
$24.99
ISBN: 9780062748201
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amistad - May 8th, 2018

Staff Pick

The story of Frederick Douglass’s rise from runaway slave to leading abolitionist, writer, and orator has been told before, not least by Douglass himself in not one but three autobiographies. Still, David W. Blight’s extensively researched, richly textured new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.50), reveals fresh details and provides a deeper appreciation of the complexities and paradoxes of the most important African American of the 19th century. Drawing on previously unpublished materials discovered in a private collection in Georgia, Blight, a Yale history professor, not only examines Douglass’ voluminous writings and speeches but also delves into his two marriages, other relationships, and complex extended family. While Blight clearly admires Douglass’s brilliant intellect, literary talents, and oratorical skills, he offers a balanced view of his subject’s many sides and turbulent life in this illuminating and engaging book.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Cover Image
$37.50
ISBN: 9781416590316
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 16th, 2018

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