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Perhaps it's better than nothing...
But it is a shame that, as important as The Narrative of the LIfe of Fredrick Douglas is to the American literary and historical traditions, both versions available to Audible listeners are woefully deficient.
The narrators of either version--Jonathan Reese (this one) and Charles Turner (the other)--possess all of the timing skill of child actors performing a cold readings of Shakespeare and possess the vocal inflective talents expected of people who are nearly stone deaf. Considering that Douglas was one of the greatest oratory talents in the history of the United States, these grossly deficient narrators' inept representations of his great rhetorical work is an insult to his memory.
In addition to the undeniable technical insufficiencies that render listening nearly unbearable, neither version includes the essential "qualifying" documents written by William Lloyd Garrison or Wendell Phillips that are representative of slave narratives and inseparable reminders of the disenfranchisement of black people even in the free North.
If you still feel you must purchase one version or the other, that which is narrated by Turner has a more informative introduction at the cost of a laughably wretched narrator; and the version with Reese is slightly less talentless, with only a brief introduction, but even the highest quality (4) format has consistent low-bitrate digital distortion throughout. Since I find the introduction of either version to be sub-academic (and thus not worth the bother), my recommendation would be the Reese narration.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to be better than the print version?
No; I could never denigrate Douglass's original writing, although the audio is great.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass?
Douglass writes persuasively of the horrors of slavery; one of the memorable examples is the beating of Frederick's Aunt Hester.
Which character – as performed by Jonathan Reese – was your favorite?
Douglass, as expressed in first person
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Douglass' book is analagous to Martin Luther King's speeches in influencing American equality of races.
Any additional comments?
The narration was so effective that as I was using the audible.com version to help my Engish III students, someone in the hallway thought that I was simply showing movies to my students on those days, and I had to explain to my supervisor that we were using audible.com to help my students understand Douglass's writing. Thanks for a great job!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful