This slim book is Douglass’s memoir of his life as a slave and escape into freedom. It’s more than just a memoir, though. It’s a statement against slavery, which may seem obvious or normal now but was a difficult and controversial thing to publish back in Douglass’s lifetime. In here, Douglass talks about so many different things – why and when slaves become complacent about their slavehood; religion and its use by slaveholders to justify their wrongs; the importance of education. For a small book, this has a lot packed into it.
Honestly, I have to admit that while I think this is a very important book and I’m glad to have read it, I’ve preferred books like Kindred on the topic of slavery. This is just a personal thing – I’m terrible at reading nonfiction and generally have a hard time really experiencing what I read in the nonfiction format. Therefore, I felt very disconnected from Douglass’s story, which is not what I wanted. I can appreciate his words, but I don’t feel them like I have felt other stories about slavery. I didn’t feel I learned as much from them, emotionally, as from other books. That’s not to say the book is bad or that it should be skipped! Like I said, there’s an amazing amount of stuff in here and it’s all worth reading and learning from. But because of my own personal inability to read nonfiction well, I didn’t get as much out of it as others might.