Before the end of the Civil War, over one hundred former slaves had written moving stories of their captivity, and by 1944, when George Washington Carver published his autobiography, over six thousand ex-slaves had written what are called 'slave narratives.' No group of slaves anywhere, in any other era, has left such prolific testimony to the horror of bondage and servitude. Now, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of America’s foremost experts in African-American studies, presents a seminal volume of four classic slave narratives that illustrate the real nature of the black experience in slavery. Fascinating and powerful, this collection includes two of the best known examples of the 'literature of escape,' the lives of Frederick Douglass and Olaudah Equiano; and two narratives by women, the stories of Harriet Jacobs (alias Linda Brent) and Mary Prince. These amazing stories are not only first-person histories of the highest caliber, but are a uniquely American literary form that has given birth to the spirit, vitality, and vision of America’s best modern black writers.