Sunday, June 24, 2012

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass : The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman

Award winning author Russell Freedman weaves a mesmerizing tale of two men who seemed unlikely friends, and how their mutual drive for the abolition of slavery brought them together. With  painstaking detail and historical photographs, the reader sees famous, historical characters from the Civil War era come to life on the page. 

The book begins with Douglass waiting in the White House foyer to speak with President Lincoln. As he waits to "lay the complaints of his people at the president's door," the story flashes back between the two men's lives to show their rise to power. Although one man was Black and another man was White, they shared striking commonalities in their acquisition of an education as well as political ideals. Although they didn't always agree, and Douglass could be one of Lincoln's greatest critics, their last moments together were as friends who shared a mutual respect. 

I loved this book, which is saying a lot since I despise reading nonfiction. Ever since I was a child, I shied away from autobiographies and biographies because they were disconnected, dry, and dull. I could, honestly, care less what someone did 100 years ago. However, I couldn't 
put this book down. I read it in an hour, and I immediately showed it to my eight-year-old daughter and told her that she needs to read it because it does such a great job of humanizing the events of the Civil War and the people who were affected. 

The book ends with Lincoln's assassination, and his final gift to Douglass. I have to admit that there were moments in this text that moved me to tears because of the struggles that people have faced and the hope that these two men instilled. They were, and are, two great examples for honoring each other as humans, first and foremost. 

Ages: 9-12 years
June 19, 2012

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