The best Frederick Douglass books 📚

Browse the best books on Frederick Douglass as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass

Women in the World of Frederick Douglass

By Leigh Fought

Why this book?

A self-proclaimed ‘woman’s rights man’, Douglass was one of the few men to attend the famous Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in New York in 1848 – the starting point of the women’s rights movement in the US. His connection to women, however, went far deeper than mere political support. Douglass, indeed, always felt more comfortable in the company of women than men, be they Black or white, family members, friends, or fellow activists. This book gives us a fuller picture of these women than ever before. It is particularly strong on Anna Murray, the free Black woman who…

From the list:

The best books on the life of Frederick Douglass

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Book cover of Young Frederick Douglass

Young Frederick Douglass

By Dickson J. Preston

Why this book?

An evocative account of the young Douglass and the Maryland world into which he was born. Originally published in 1980 but recently re-released, this is a beautiful book that delivers much more than the title suggests. It is also the book that finally pinpointed the correct month and year in which Douglass was born – February 1818. Those who enslaved people often kept such precious, deeply personal information away from those they enslaved - it was a sign of power, one minor manifestation of the many inquities of slavery.

From the list:

The best books on the life of Frederick Douglass

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Book cover of Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories

Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories

By William Kilpatrick, Gregory Wolfe, Suzanne Wolfe

Why this book?

Good books can be one of a parent’s best allies in teaching virtue. This guide is a gold mine of more than 300 high-quality fiction and non-fiction books that have strong character themes. There are recommendations for young, middle, and older readers. Each book is described in a full paragraph with detail rich enough to give us a clear idea of its content and value. Books like these can contribute to children’s character development in many ways: by taking them into worlds beyond their own; enabling them to learn vicariously from the good and bad choices of the characters they…
From the list:

The best books for raising good children

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Book cover of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

By Frederick Douglass

Why this book?

Anyone wishing to explore the remarkable life of Frederick Douglass needs to start with his own writings, in particular his 1845 autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, the book that shot the young abolitionist to fame. While far from the first enslaved person’s narrative to have been printed, it was the best-written and most precise in detail, mixing scenes of great emotional warmth with brutal outrages that shocked contemporary readers. It also revealed Douglass’s real name (Frederick Bailey), leading to death threats and fears of recapture. Having decided to leave America until the furore…

From the list:

The best books on the life of Frederick Douglass

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Book cover of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

By Benjamin Quarles

Why this book?

Written at a time when the racist belief that Black authors could not be trusted to write African-American history was still prevalent even in the upper echelons of academia, this deft 1948 portrait of Douglass launched the career of Benjamin Quarles, the pioneering African-American historian whose body of work (including The Negro in the American Revolution and Lincoln and the Negro) transformed thinking about the role African-Americans played in the formation of the United States.

From the list:

The best books on the life of Frederick Douglass

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Book cover of Douglass' Women

Douglass' Women

By Jewell Parker Rhodes

Why this book?

Escaping slavery doesn’t make you a saint. Even Frederick Douglass, one of the world’s most famous former slaves, one of history’s greatest writers, orators, and human rights activists, had feet of clay. His wife Anna was a free Black woman who helped him escape bondage and bore him five children. Yet Frederick cheated on her in a decades-long affair with a White German woman—who is somehow equally sympathetic here. I finished this novel loving all three of these flawed, complex characters, all of whom were real people. Rhodes’s psychological insight leaves me in awe.

From the list:

The best novels about the human toll of American slavery

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