Twelve Years A Slave

Twelve Years A Slave

Book - 2013
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Perhaps the best written of all the slave narratives, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American history. It recounts how Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity on a Louisiana cotton plantation. After his rescue, Northup published this exceptionally vivid and detailed account of slave life. It became an immediate bestseller and today is recognized for its unusual insight and eloquence as one of the very few portraits of American slavery produced by someone as educated as Solomon Northup, or by someone with the dual perspective of having been both a free man and a slave.--Page [4] of cover.
Publisher: New York, NY : Penguin Books, 2013
ISBN: 9780143125419
0143125419
9780143106708
0143106708
Branch Call Number: B NORTHRUP
Characteristics: xxxviii, 252 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Alternative Title: 12 years a slave

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FindingJane
May 01, 2016

Literate, articulate and excruciating in detail, Mr. Northup’s saga of enforced bondage to various white masters stands as a shining gem in the crown of black literature about this era. He outlines just how terrible his days were and how dreadful his nights, when slaves dared not oversleep no matter how fatigued they were from the day’s toils. Rarely did a day pass without a whipping, unless the slaves were under the yoke of a kind master.

Unlike Frederick Douglass’s similar account, Mr. Northup goes into painstaking detail, naming names and places, all the while showing a shrewd view of human nature. There are no good blacks and evil whites; there are decent and indecent people among them both. Whereas Mr. Douglass maintained that a white master who was religious was a particularly terrible nemesis of the slave, Mr. Northup stresses that even among the pious there were those who were gentle towards their property, who knew how to win the loves of those underneath their yoke.

If anything, Mr. Northup is quick to blame slavery—the sin rather than the sinner—under which both white and black men suffer, one that teaches young white children to practice and delight in cruelty and makes it impossible even for church-going, compassionate men to see anything other than moral rectitude in an immoral system.

It is a sobering and harrowing account of a bygone age and one that continues to leave its stain upon the current age. (If you think racism doesn’t exist in America, try listening to a white person complain that white privilege means travelling in a limo instead of on a train.)

d
dlh1
Sep 28, 2015

I was amazed at the memory of names, places, dates and events in the life of this man. Not only that, he was able to weave these snapshots into a captivating story that was hard to put down. Not many writers have this ability when using factual information. It's hard to believe that it was written well over 100 years ago. Also, it's hard to believe that many of the attitudes of human beings haven't changed in that time. There are still those that strongly believe in slavery, since it still exists in many nations of the world.

a
annanina
Sep 08, 2015

What an incredible, profound, truly moving account of the real-life tragic events! The book had been published in 1853(!) and yet, when I started reading it I couldn't put it down. The author's incredible intelligence, attention to detail, his philosophical stance - all this contributed to truly remarkable book. I watched the movie - it's good as an illustration to the book. However, the movie skipped on the last part, the escape back to freedom - how the author was helped by so many good people, and what was involved, including the court proceedings and other documents appended to the book. Actually, as I was reading the Chapter 21 and on, my heart was racing! Highly, highly recommended.

s
savtadina
Jun 27, 2015

This is an absolutely amazing story of a NY-born freeman who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep South and after 12 years managed to regain his freedom. It was published in 1853. It not only tells of the indignities that he went through but of the suffering of so many others that were treated so horrifically.

There is no way that I could have seen the movie as the horrors described in the book would have overwhelmed me. Also, the verbal written descriptions are truly worth reading.

a
AnnemarieG
Jun 20, 2015

I finally stopped reading it because the brutality was pretty distasteful. I didn't need it on EVERY page.

b
becker
Mar 25, 2015

A very interesting book. A look into the life of a slave from a first hand account.

m
mary498
Jan 04, 2015

Man's inhumanity to man will never cease to amaze, astound and sicken me. Having said that, an amazing account of one man's resilience, unending hope and faith in God during our country's darkest days.

r
readsalot80
Aug 13, 2014

Great book about a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. He wrote this after he was rescued. Its hard to imagine what he went through to survive. This book should be mandatory reading in high school.

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erinsnest
Jul 09, 2014

July 5, 2014....Just starting this book, and so far it's great..........July 9, only about 60 pages left. Where has this little gem been hiding. I can hardly wait to watch the movie, I just checked out the trailer and it looks great. So glad that I read the book first tho. I love Northup's story telling style. To those people who call non-fiction "boring research books," you have to check this out. It will open your eyes!

e
erinsnest
Jul 07, 2014

July 5, 2014....Just starting this book, and so far it's great..........July 9, only about 60 pages left. Where has this little gem been hiding. I can hardly wait to watch the movie, I just checked out the trailer and it looks great. So glad that I read the book first tho. I love Northup's story telling style. To those people who call non-fiction "boring research books," you have to check this out. It will open your eyes!

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mary498
Jan 04, 2015

An amazing account of a "free" black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Solomon was educated and after his eventual rescue, was able to write about his twelve years in captivity. Excellent narrative and true to the language and events of the time period.

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