books The Best Slave Narratives in American History  

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A list of the most important slave narratives in American literature. True stories told by fugitive or freed slaves allow modern readers to experience the history of slavery in an immediate and personal way. Nothing can make a reader identify with an author like an autobiography or biography; reading real peoples' experiences in their own words can shape our sense of humility, empathy, and compassion.

These factual accounts of slavery, suffering, escape, and freedom by figures like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass allow modern audiences to go beyond superficial images to a fuller understanding of the slave experience. In illuminating the humanity of the oppressed, these stories also contextualize a horrific American institution that continues to profoundly shape our culture.


There are many historical accounts that pertain to the topic of slavery from the perspective of slaves themselves. We've compiled some of the most famous personal tales by slaves from American history. Vote up the best slave narratives below and if we missed any important non-fiction slave stories, add them to the list.

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The Interesting Narrative of t... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Things You Always Forget

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Incidents in the Life of a Sla... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Narrative of the Life of Frede... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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My Bondage and My Freedom is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass

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Twelve Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup

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Life and Times of Frederick Do... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Roots: The Saga of an American... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The narrative of William W. Br... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Up From Slavery is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Up from Slavery Booker T. Washington

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Narrative of my escape from sl... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The History of Mary Prince is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Confessions of Nat Turner Lead... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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My southern home is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
My Southern Home William Wells Brown

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Narrative of the uncommon suff... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Life of William Grimes, the ru... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

20 Books to Read in Your 20s Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

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The Black Bard of North Caroli... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Letter from a Fugitive Slave: ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The Light and Truth of Slavery... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Behind the Scenes in the Linco... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Memoir of Old Elizabeth, A Col... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The American Slave: A Composit... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The Classic Slave Narratives is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
The Classic Slave Narratives Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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American Slavery: A Composite ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Life of Mary F. McCray: Born a... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Memories of Childhood's Slaver... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Thirty Years a Slave: from Bon... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The Narrative of Bethany Veney... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The Experience of a Slave in S... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Narrative of the Life of Moses... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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The Refugee: Narratives of Fug... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Witnessing slavery is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Witnessing slavery Frances Foster

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The New Man: Twenty-Nine Years... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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Narrative of Lunsford Lane, Fo... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History

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An Introduction to the Slave N... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History