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ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Frederick Douglass


The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own Words

by Frederick Douglass & edited by Michael McCurdy & illustrated by Michael McCurdy

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-84652-2
Publisher: Knopf

 Skillfully selecting from the first volume of the great African-American abolitionist's monumental autobiography (1845), McCurdy presents Douglass's early life--including his escape from Baltimore to New Bedford, via New York, at age 20--scrupulously explaining that he has edited ``to emphasize action'' but has ``kept Douglass's own words, spelling, and distinctive punctuation,'' and has occasionally ``rearranged for the sake of clarity.'' The result is eloquent and compelling. Douglass's vividly described experiences and thoughtful observations of slavery's effects--on master as well as slave--still resonate: one mistress teaching him to read before she had learned to be cruel (as she did soon thereafter); his fighting back against a brutal master and, incredibly, surviving; his despair (``My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed...the dark night of slavery closed in upon me, and behold a man transformed into a brute!''); his ``thrill of joy,'' once free, at being able to ``plead the cause of my brethren.'' All readers should encounter these scenes in Douglass's own words. McCurdy has set them handsomely; his elegantly composed wood engravings are distinguished by unusual power and dignity. Explanatory chapter introductions smoothly link events. A book that belongs in every library. Brief bibliography of sources. (Autobiography. 9+)