Adler, David Frederck Douglas, A Nobel Life
Holiday House 2010 138p 18.95
978-0-8234-2056-8 elm/ms E-BN
Frederick Douglass wore many hats: slave, free man, lecturer, writer, diplomat, husband, father and grandfather. He rose above his “station” of uneducated slave to become one of America’s most noted fighters of injustice. Adler presents a thorough biography of his life and accomplishments.
The legacy that Frederick Douglass left mankind is chronicled extraordinarily well by David Adler in this biography. Three components combine to make this book impossible to put down: quotations, anecdotes and organization of the data and photographs. Long before Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream” speech, Douglass said, “I do not despair of this country. The doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope.” (61). Was it fate or his own life philosophy that kept Douglass from joining John Brown at Harpers Ferry where surely he would have met his death? It is up to the reader to decide since Adler does not offer an answer to this question. (79) The anecdote of Douglass’s meeting with Miss Amanda, the daughter of Douglass’s former owner, is only one of many in this book in which Douglass shows his poise, sense of forgiveness and life purpose, that of ensuring equality for black Americans. Amanda and Douglass met as equals just as they had been as children. The text is divided into 15 chapters, from his birth through his years as a slave, and finally, through his years as a free man who never wavered in his commitment. Adler has given us many portraits of this man to ponder. Was it his stature or eloquence that made him so respected? Was it his intelligence or his commitment to his cause that made him such an amazing advocate of the cause of freedom? Whichever the reader chooses, he/she will be in for a treat with every turn of the page. The book ends with a timeline, an extensive section of notes and bibliographical listings and an index.
Please note the unfortunate error on p. 81. “soon lto be”....should be “soon to be”. This book needs to be in the biography section of a public library, a high school library and a middle school library. Literacy teachers will want to include this book in a unit of famous African Americans as well. Squaresky, Martha