Giants

Giants

The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass & Abraham Lincoln

Book - 2008
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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were the preeminent self-made men of their time. In this masterful dual biography, award-winningHarvardUniversityscholar John Stauffer describes the transformations in the lives of these two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformedAmerica.

Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation's greatest president. Douglass spent the first twenty years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling-in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write-and became one of the nation's greatest writers and activists, as well as a spellbinding orator and messenger of audacious hope, the pioneer who blazed the path traveled by future African-American leaders.

At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross their threshold, Lincolninvited Douglass into the White House.Lincolnrecognized that he needed Douglass to help him destroy the Confederacy and preserve the Union; Douglass realized thatLincoln's shrewd sense of public opinion would serve his own goal of freeing the nation's blacks. Their relationship shifted in response to the country's debate over slavery, abolition, and emancipation.

Both were ambitious men. They had great faith in the moral and technological progress of their nation. And they were not always consistent in their views. John Stauffer describes their personal and political struggles with a keen understanding of the dilemmas Douglass and Lincoln confronted and the social context in which they occurred. What emerges is a brilliant portrait of how two of America's greatest leaders lived.
Publisher: New York : Twelve, c2008.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780446541220
0446541222
9780446580090
0446580090
Branch Call Number: 973.7092 DOUGLASS
Characteristics: xiv, 432 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.

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GummiGirl
Dec 31, 2013

If one can get past the sexual speculation that "floy" refers to, this is an interesting book. It concentrates on the parallels between its two subjects and leaves out a lot of other details, but is still a useful summary of both men's lives.

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floy
Jul 04, 2011

This book by John Stauffer sounds enticing to people interested in either of the two men but it fails to satisfy. While it was fascinating to learn that both Douglass and Lincoln used the same book (The Columbian Orator) as a guidepost in their younger years and that Donald Rumsfeld now owns a property where Douglass was enslaved and very badly treated (as of the book’s publication in 2008), the questionable assertions start stacking up as you proceed further into the book.
What made me give up on the book in the second chapter was the author's bold comment that since Lincoln's “sexual passions were at times uncontrollable then he likely would have acted on them not only with strangers but with his most intimate friend in the world�, Joshua Speed. The author wrote that if the accounts of Lincoln having sex with prostitutes were true, then there is no reason to suppose that he didn't also have carnal relations with Joshua Speed. Huh? Even to gay people, that is a HUGE leap in logic and it is dismaying to find an author issue such a comment so cavalierly. With such questionable logic, the rest of the book seemed suspect and I stopped reading.

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