Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for History, a biography of the most important African-American of the 19th century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.
Mr. Blight’s biography deserves full immersion. Though long, it is absorbing and even moving, and the payoff is enormous, for Mr. Blight displays his lifelong interest in Douglass on almost every page, and his own voice is active and eloquent throughout the narrative. It is a book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass’s... It is a brilliant book.
It’s hard to imagine a biographer more knowledgeable about Douglass’s life, times and writings than David W. Blight ... This grand and timely biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, is ever authoritatively informative, but it travels at a safe and steady 25 m.p.h. on a straight road while Douglass’s life was often a dangerous and boundless adventure. Where Blight is best is investigating those topics where the usually intrepid Douglass hesitated to tread... In those mysterious spaces, Blight is the best guide we could ask for, even though he sometimes seems sorry to have to mention his and our hero’s clay feet.
David Blight’s extraordinary new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, captures the complexities of the man who lived and died at Cedar Hill: a figure both eminent and solitary who gazed across vastly different American landscapes ... But Blight thoroughly justifies his claim [that Douglass is a 'prophet of freedom'] in a book that is not just a deeply researched birth-to-death chronology but also an extended meditation on what it means to be a prophet ... Douglass himself was apparently never recorded by the phonograph operators. But in Blight’s pages, his voice again rings out loud and clear, melancholy and triumphant — still prophesying, still agitating, still calling us to action.