Giants by John Stauffer
The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were the preeminent self-made men of their time. In this masterful dual biography, award-winning Harvard University scholar John Stauffer describes the transformations in the lives of these two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformed America.

Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation's greatest president. Douglass spent the first twenty years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling-in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write-and became one of the nation's greatest writers and activists, as well as a spellbinding orator and messenger of audacious hope, the pioneer who blazed the path traveled by future African-American leaders.

At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross their threshold, Lincoln invited Douglass into the White House. 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. Their relationship shifted in response to the country's debate over slavery, abolition, and emancipation.

Both were ambitious men. They had great faith in the moral and technological progress of their nation. And they were not always consistent in their views. John Stauffer describes their personal and political struggles with a keen understanding of the dilemmas Douglass and Lincoln confronted and the social context in which they occurred. What emerges is a brilliant portrait of how two of America's greatest leaders lived.

About John Stauffer

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John Stauffer is Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. His first book, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Harvard University Press, 2002), was the co-winner of the 2002 Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Institue; winner of the Avery Craven Book Prize from the OAH; and the Lincoln Prize runner-up. Other works include: Meteor of War: The John Brown Story (with Zoe Trodd, 2004); Frederick Douglass' My Bondage and My Freedom (editor, 2003). Visit his website at
Published October 22, 2008 by Twelve. 448 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Romance. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Giants

Book Reporter

Douglass was welcomed by Lincoln after.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...

Tampa Bay Times

In his perceptive, well-researched dual biography, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, John Stauffer, Harvard professor of English and the history of American civilization and author of The Black Hearts of Men (2002), clearly captures his subjects' grapplings wit...

Jan 17 2009 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...


Taibbi even itemized the contents of his car trunk, as Thompson did at the beginning of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” It was therefore fitting that Rolling Stone magazine, which helped make Thompson a cultural icon, hired Taibbi as a contributing editor.

Oct 01 2014 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...


In an apparent rebuke to the Supreme Court’s recent abortion decision, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told Fox News that the law “shouldn’t change just because the faces on the court have changed.” O’Connor, who time and again swung the court in favor of a woman’s right to choose, also criti...

May 20 2007 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...


You may not be an Internet billionaire, but for $25 (or .00001 percent of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just paid for the Washington Post), you can help keep us in business.

Jul 03 2013 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...


morris, September 20, 2006 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment(Unregistered commenter).

Sep 19 2006 | Read Full Review of Giants: The Parallel Lives of...

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