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 Drawing on previously unpublished materials discovered in a private collection in Georgia, Blight, a Yale history professor, not only examines Douglass’ voluminous writings and speeches but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 by David W. Blight