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They were the preeminent self-made men of their time. Abraham Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation's greatest President. Frederick Douglass spent the first 20 years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling - his masters forbade him to read or write - and became one of the nation's greatest writers and activists. At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross their threshold, Lincoln met Douglass three times at the White House and invited him to tea at the Soldier's Home. Their friendship was based on usefulness: Lincoln recognized that he needed Douglass to help him destroy the Confederacy and preserve the Union; Douglass realized that Lincoln's shrewd sense of public opinion would serve his own goal of freeing the nation's blacks. They were ambitious men, and had great faith in the moral and technological progress of their nation. They also shared many common interests: They loved music and literature, and educated themselves by reading the same books. They were athletic, strong and tall: Douglass was 6 ft., Lincoln 6 ft. 4 inches, when the average height for men was 5 ft. 7 inches. Lincoln and Douglass moved beyond the traditional idea of character as fixed and based primarily on heredity and social status, and embraced a self in state of continual evolution. Award-winning historian John Stauffer describes the dramatic transformations in the lives of these giants during a a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty.
One of the greatest works of American autobiography, in a definitive Library of America text: Published seven years after his escape from slavery, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) is a powerful account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Frederick Douglass was born. It brought him to the forefront of the antislavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause. Written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave, the Narrative reveals the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made Douglass a brilliantly effective spokesman for abolition and equal rights, as he shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of unimaginable odds.
Vigorous, self-reliant, amazingly resourceful, and moral, Natty Bumppo is the prototype of the Western hero. A faultless arbiter of wilderness justice, he hates middle-class hypocrisy. But he finds his love divided between the woman he has pledged to protect on a treacherous journey and the untouched forest that sustains him in his beliefs. A fast-paced narrative full of adventure and majestic descriptions of early frontier life, Indian raiders, and defenseless outposts, The Pathfinder set the standard for epic action literature.
The campaign to abolish slavery in the United States was the most powerful and effective social movement of the nineteenth century and has served as a recurring source of inspiration for every subsequent struggle against injustice. But the abolitionist story has traditionally focused on the evangelical impulses of white, male, middle-class reformers, obscuring the contributions of many African Americans, women, and others.Prophets of Protest, the first collection of writings on abolitionism in more than a generation, draws on an immense new body of research in African American studies, literature, art history, film, law, women's studies, and other disciplines. The book incorporates new thinking on such topics as the role of early black newspapers, antislavery poetry, and abolitionists in film and provides new perspectives on familiar figures such as Sojourner Truth, Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown.With contributions from the leading scholars in the field, Prophets of Protest is a long overdue update of one of the central reform movements in America's history.
During Reconstruction, former abolitionists in the North had a golden opportunity to pursue true racial justice and permanent reform in America. But after the sacrifice made by thousands of Union soldiers to arrive at this juncture, the moment soon slipped away, leaving many whites throughout the North and South more racist than before. Edward J. Blum takes a fresh look at the reasons for this failure in Reforging the White Republic, focusing on the vital role that religion played in reunifying northern and southern whites into a racially segregated society. A blend of history and social science, Reforging the White Republic offers a surprising perspective on the forces of religion as well as nationalism and imperialism at a critical point in American history.
New York Times bestselling author Sally Jenkins and distinguished Harvard professor John Stauffer mine a nearly forgotten piece of Civil War history and strike gold in this surprising account of the only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy. The State of Jones is a true story about the South during the Civil War - the realSouth. Not the South that has been mythologized in novels and movies, but an authentic, hardscrabble place where poor men were forced to fight a rich man's war for slavery and cotton. In Jones County, Mississippi, a farmer named Newton Knight led his neighbors, white and black alike, in an insurrection against the Confederacy at the height of the Civil War. Knight's life story mirrors the little-known story of class struggle in the South - and it shatters the image of the Confederacy as a unified front against the Union. This riveting investigative account takes us inside the battle of Corinth, where thousands lost their lives over less than a quarter mile of land, and to the dreadful siege of Vicksburg, presenting a gritty picture of a war in which generals sacrificed thousands through their arrogance and ignorance. Off the battlefield, the Newton Knight story is rich in drama as well. He was a man with two loves: his wife, who was forced to flee her home simply to survive, and an ex-slave named Rachel, who, in effect, became his second wife. It was Rachel who cared for Knight during the war when he was hunted by the Confederates, and, later, when members of the Knight clan sought revenge for the disgrace he had brought upon the family name. Working hand in hand with John Stauffer, distinguished chair and professor of the History of American Civilization at Harvard University, Sally Jenkins has made the leap from preeminent sportswriter to a historical writer endowed with the accuracy, drive, and passion of Doris Kearns Goodwin. The result is Civil War history at its finest.
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