Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.
Winner of the Bancroft, Parkman, Los Angeles Times (biography), Lincoln, Plutarch, and Christopher Awards.
Named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Time.
“Cinematic and deeply engaging. . . . a tour de force of storytelling.” – Brent Staples, The New York Times Book Review
"Absorbing and even moving . . . 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. . . . A brilliant book.” – John Stauffer, The Wall Street Journal
“The first major biography of Douglass in nearly three decades. . . . Blight isn’t looking to overturn our understanding of Douglass, whose courage and achievements were unequivocal, but to complicate it — a measure by which this ambitious and empathetic biography resoundingly succeeds.” – Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
“Extraordinary. . . . Blight has certainly written, in the book’s texture and density and narrative flow—one violent and provocative incident arriving right after another—a great American biography."– Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
“David Blight has written a searching and suggestive book.”—Andrew Delbanco, The New York Review of Books
“History and great literature blend beautifully as Blight conducts his examination of the works of four writers—Robert Penn Warren, southern-born novelist; Bruce Catton, historian and journalist; Edmund Wilson, literary critic; and James Baldwin, northern-born essayist and race critic—providing background and context for their works and their views of the centennial and all its commercialism and hypocrisy. ... Throughout, Blight explores the mythology that came out of the Civil War and the sense of American redemption that did not include any examination of the tragedies of racism and slavery.”—Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)
“Fascinating . . . gripping stories that speak to our understanding of the slave legacy and the meaning of the Civil War and Reconstruction.”—Boston Globe
“Two remarkable lives, previously lost, emerge with startling clarity, largely through the words of the principal actors themselves.” —William Grimes, New York Times
“[The] narratives are powerful and poignant and help to fill in the cracks of history in voices too rarely heard . . . Readers will . . . be powerfully grateful.” —Christian Science Monitor
“By editing and elaborating upon these striking autobiographies, David Blight has done an inestimable service to historians.”—New York Review of Books