Up from Slavery

This special edition of Up From Slavery reflects the author’s conviction that Washington’s autobiography remains an exceptionally interesting book to contemporary readers. On first reading, the book may appear simple, circumspect, and even glib.  But when approached as a carefully constructed prose portrait intended to fashion Washington as the ideal American, the book reveals layers and layers of insights not only into its author, but also his worldview.

“I think the introduction is impressive. I’ve read several introductions to Up from Slavery over the years and I honestly feel that this is the best. It illuminates how important it is to read Up from Slavery from a variety of perspectives. If readers follow the editor’s advice, they will be prepared to judge Washington with a richer understanding of the politics and, to paraphrase Du Bois, ‘psychology’ of the moment.” – Jonathan Holloway, Yale University

“This is an excellent book. It addresses a number of issues important to African American history and literature. The introduction is very successful in exposing the tension between the subject of autobiography – the crafted public self – and the far more complex, indeed enigmatic subject of real life. For those interested in the role of the individual in history, this book sheds light on the way Booker T. Washington used his skills of self-representation to amass power and influence in a racist society – his identity imposed forever upon the politics of racial self-help and the history of the New South.” – Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University

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