Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th Century in the United States.
Roughing It is semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. It was authored during 1870–71 and published in 1872 as a sequel to his first book Innocents Abroad. This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad.
Life on the Mississippi is a memoir by Mark Twain detailing his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War.
When you dive into Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens’) The Innocents Abroad, you have to be ready to learn more about the unadorned, ungilded reality of 19th century “touring” than you might think you want to learn. This is a tough, literary journey. It was tough for Twain and his fellow “pilgrims”, both religious and otherwise. They set out, on a June day in 1867, to visit major tourist sites in Europe and the near east, including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, “the Holy Land”, and Egypt. What Twain records, in often humorous, sometimes grotesque but always fascinating detail, are the day-to-day ups and downs of discovering the truth about people and places. The truths they learn are often far different than their education and rumor have made them preconceive.
This is a voyage of discovery. It’s long and, in places, tiresome. But it’s revelatory about so much.
Grant, Ulysses S.
In preparing these volumes for the public, I have entered upon the task with the sincere desire to avoid doing injustice to any one, whether on the National or Confederate side, other than the unavoidable injustice of not making mention often where special mention is due. There must be many errors of omission in this work, because the subject is too large to be treated of in two volumes in such way as to do justice to all the officers and men engaged. There were thousands of instances, during the rebellion, of individual, company, regimental and brigade deeds of heroism which deserve special mention and are not here alluded to. The troops engaged in them will have to look to the detailed reports of their individual commanders for the full history of those deeds.
(Summary by U. S. Grant)
Washington, Booker T.
Up From Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his slow and steady rise from a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties and obstacles he overcame to get an education at the new Hampton University, to his work establishing vocational schools—most notably the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama—to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful, marketable skills and work to pull themselves, as a race, up by the bootstraps. He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and philanthropists who helped in educating blacks and native Americans. He describes his efforts to instill manners, breeding, health and a feeling of dignity to students. (Summary from Wikipedia)
This is the first of five volumes. - Giacomo Casanova (1725 in Venice – 1798 in Dux, Bohemia, now Duchcov, Czech Republic) was a famous Venetian adventurer, writer, and womanizer. He used charm, guile, threats, intimidation, and aggression, when necessary, to conquer women, sometimes leaving behind children or debt. In his autobiography Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century, he mentions 122 women with whom he had sex.
Although he is often associated with Don Juan because both seduced many women, Casanova is in fact very different from his fictitious counterpart. While Don Juan is a legend, Casanova is a historical character.
This short work of Wilde's was written during his two year incarceration for "gross indecency". This work is a letter which sorts out his life, and his love toward Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde wrote this as a farewell letter to Douglas. (summary by Aaron Elliott)
This is a letter written from prison in 1897 by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, in which he recounts how he came to be in prison and charts his spiritual development.
De Quincey, Thomas
“Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty Opium!”
Though apparently presenting the reader with a collage of poignant memories, temporal digressions and random anecdotes, the Confessions is a work of immense sophistication and certainly one of the most impressive and influential of all autobiographies. The work is of great appeal to the contemporary reader, displaying a nervous (postmodern?) self-awareness, a spiralling obsession with the enigmas of its own composition and significance. De Quincey may be said to scrutinise his life, somewhat feverishly, in an effort to fix his own identity.
The title seems to promise a graphic exposure of horrors; these passages do not make up a large part of the whole. The circumstances of its hasty composition sets up the work as a lucrative piece of sensational journalism, albeit published in a more intellectually respectable organ – the London Magazine – than are today’s tawdry exercises in tabloid self-exposure. What makes the book technically remarkable is its use of a majestic neoclassical style applied to a very romantic species of confessional writing - self-reflexive but always reaching out to the Reader. (Summary by Martin Geeson)
Rowlandson, Mary White
This is the story of Mary Rowlandson’s capture by American Indians in 1675. It is a blunt, frightening, and detailed work with several moments of off-color humor. Mary, the wife of a minister, was captured by Natives during King Philips War while living in a Lancaster town, most of which was decimated, and the people murdered. See through her eyes, which depict Indians as the instruments of Satan. Her accounts were a best-seller of the era, and a seminal work, being one of the first captivity narratives ever published by a woman. Without works such as hers, there would likely not be many modern works inspired by similar themes, such as The Searchers, starring John Wayne.
Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C. "Anabasis" is a Greek work which meane "journey from the coast to the center of a country." This is Xenophon's account of his march to Persia with a troop of Greek mercenaries to aid Cyrus, who enlisted Greek help to try and take the throne from his brother Artaxerxes, and the ensuing return of the Greeks, in which Xenophon played a leading role. This occurred between 401 B.C. and March 399 B.C.
H. G. Dakyns lived from (1838 - 1911). (Summary from Gutenberg version of text.)
Chesterfield, Philip Stanhope, Fourth Earl of
Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, was at one time Ambassador to the Hague, negotiated the second Treaty of Vienna, was a founding governor of London’s Foundling Hospital, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and Secretary of State. Having no legitimate children, his heir was his third cousin (another Philip) whom he adopted. Although known as a hard, calculating man, he is most well known for his letters to his natural son (i.e., illegitimate son) (also called Philip). When Philip died in 1768, the letters are addressed to his grandchildren (Philip’s two sons, Charles, and, yes, Philip!). (Sibella Denton)
From the introduction:
“The proud Lord Chesterfield would have turned in his grave had he known that he was to go down to posterity as a teacher and preacher of the gospel of not grace, but—"the graces, the graces, the graces." Natural gifts, social status, open opportunities, and his ambition, all conspired to destine him for high statesmanship. If anything was lacking in his qualifications, he had the pluck and good sense to work hard and persistently until the deficiency was made up. Something remained lacking, and not all his consummate mastery of arts could conceal that conspicuous want,—the want of heart.
Teacher and preacher he assuredly is, and long will be, yet no thanks are his due from a posterity of the common people whom he so sublimely despised. His pious mission was not to raise the level of the multitude, but to lift a single individual upon a pedestal so high that his lowly origin should not betray itself. That individual was his, Lord Chesterfield's, illegitimate son, whose inferior blood should be given the true blue hue by concentrating upon him all the externals of aristocratic education.”
Jack London lived for a time within the grim and grimy world of the East End of London, where half a million people scraped together hardly enough on which to survive. Even if they were able to work, they were paid only enough to allow them a pitiful existence. He grew to know and empathise with these forgotten (or ignored) people as he spoke with them and tasted the workhouse, life on the streets, ... and the food, which was cheap, barely nutritious, and foul.
He writes about his experiences in a fluid and narrative style, making it very clear what he thinks of the social structures which created the Abyss, and of the millionaires who live high on the labours of a people forced to live in squalor. "... The food this managing class eats, the wine it drinks, ... the fine clothes it wears, are challenged by eight million mouths which have never had enough to fill them, and by twice eight million bodies which have never been sufficiently clothed and housed."
(Summary by Peter Yearsley)
Rockefeller, John D.
A good book by the oil revolutionist of the 20th century. As they say "Men should listen to experience" and this book is all about the experience of the second highest taxpayer of the US during the 20's. Though it is not in the book, this is a small poem he wrote:
I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play-
I dropped the worry on the way-
And God was good to me everyday. (Summary by sidhu177)
Tom Brown's Schooldays is a novel by Thomas Hughes first published in 1857. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s. Hughes attended Rugby School from 1834 to 1842.
The novel was originally published as being "by an Old Boy of Rugby", and much of it is based on the author's experiences. Tom Brown is largely based on the author's brother, George Hughes; and George Arthur, another of the book's main characters, is based on Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. The fictional Tom's life also resembles the author's in that the culminating event of his school career was a cricket match.
Tom Brown was tremendously influential on the genre of British school novels, which began in the 19th century, and is one of the few still in print. A sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, was published in 1861 but is not as well known. (Summary from Wikipedia)
This is the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who bought her freedom with the money she earned as a seamstress. She eventually worked for Mary Lincoln. It is a fascinating book, filled with many recollections of her own life and her interactions with the Lincolns and other members of the government elite. (summary by Guero)
In his vital, illustrative and dynamic autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt let us into the life that formed one of the greatest and outspoken presidents in American history. Not only are we privy to the formation of his political ideals, but also to his love of the frontier and the great outdoors. (Summary from Bartleby.com)
Mark Twain's work on Joan of Arc is titled in full "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte." De Conte is identified as Joan's page and secretary. For those who've always wanted to "get behind" the Joan of Arc story and to better understand just what happened, Twain's narrative makes the story personal and very accessible.
The work is fictionally presented as a translation from the manuscript by Jean Francois Alden, or, in the words of the published book, "Freely Translated out of the Ancient French into Modern English from the Original Unpublished Manuscript in the National Archives of France."
It was originally published as a serialization in Harper's Magazine beginning in 1895 and later published in book form in 1896. However the Harper's editors decided to cut 12 chapters that describe much of Joan's Great Trial, saying the chapters were not suitable for serialization since, "They will not bear mutilation or interruption, but must be read as a whole, as one reads a drama." This recording contains the complete text!
De Conte is a fictionalized version of Joan of Arc's page Louis de Contes, and provides narrative unity to the story. He is presented as an individual who was with Joan during the three major phases of her life - as a youth in Domremy, as the commander of Charles' army on military campaign, and as a defendant at the trial in Rouen. The book is presented as a translation by Alden of de Conte's memoirs, written in his later years for the benefit of his descendants.
Twain based his descriptions of Joan of Arc on his daughter, Susy Clemens, as he remembered her at the age of seventeen.
Twain said, "I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none." (Summary by Wikipedia and John Greenman)
Alcott, Louisa May
Alcott in 1862 served as a nurse in Georgetown, D.C during the Civil War. She wrote home what she observed there. Those harrowing and sometimes humorous letters compiled make up Hospital Sketches.
Jack London died at the age of forty. In this autobiographical work, London describes his life as seen through the eyes of John Barleycorn (alcohol). There is much controversy about the cause of his death just as there is about alcoholism and addiction. London's brutally frank and honest analysis of his own struggles and bouts with alcohol was way before its time and more modern theories of addiction. With remarkable candor and insight, London describes the demons and gods he encountered through both friend and enemy, John Barleycorn.
(Summary by Peter Kelleher)
Abbott, L. A.
This work the author claims is indeed a true story of how he happened to be married seven times to seven different women and the rollicking, hilarious events that led (or stumbled) to the marriages and the ah--disassembling/failing/failures of each said marriage which happened oftentimes to land him in prison. The summarist finds the work a very tongue-in-cheek diatribe/lament/account of his obsessive zeal in 'marrying the right one', but is also the mirthful chronicle of said author's very unconventional adventures. (Summary by Kehinde)
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.