Read 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup Online


Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington,Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, D.C., sold into slavery, and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, as well as describing at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana....

Title : 12 Years A Slave
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780141393827
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

12 Years A Slave Reviews

  • Brian
    2019-06-20 06:43

    There's a sin, a fearful sin, resting on this nation, that will not go unpunished forever. There will be reckoning yet ... it may be sooner or it may be later, but it's a coming as sure as the Lord is just.-Solomon Northup, 1855I am a middle-age American white guy obsessed with my country's shameful chapter, our "peculiar institution" - slavery. No matter how many books I read, movies I see or any other means of approaching the subject there exists a gulf of understanding that can never be bridged. I can feel pity, shame, anger or any other emotion, but I will never know. Only sympathy. I've got nothing in my present or past that can make for empathy.Northup's harrowing, page-turning narrative is the first book that I have read on the subject of American slavery that has allowed me the first inkling of answers to some of my questions of "how" and "why". Northup was a free man, born free in New York State, married to a free black woman and father of three children. Humanity's dark side shows its teeth and while away on business he is drugged, chained and then sold into slavery in Louisiana until he is rescued 12 years later. A horrible story with a happy ending, but as Northup makes clear by way of his being an interloper into that sickening economic system: his tale only runs parallel with the multi-generational truth of slavery. He fell into it, got out of it. For those hundreds of thousands of men, women and children that are born and ultimately die into it, there is only hopelessness.So what Northup does, where he reaches across the ages and a race divide that I can never cross - he takes a look at his oppressors and states: "I get it." You take a white boy, the son of a slave owner, and from his birth you instill in him that there is no humanity in a slave. Northup: "..with such training, whatever may be his natural disposition, it cannot well be otherwise than that, on arriving at maturity, the sufferings and miseries of the slave will be looked upon with entire indifference." So in 2013, I am equally unable to understand the mind of a white slave owner. I was not born into this - how could I ever empathize with a multi-generational slave owning white southern man? "Brought up with such ideas - in the notion that we stand without the pale of humanity - no wonder the oppressors of my people are a pitiless and unrelenting race."William Tanner Vollmann refers to this book several times in Rising Up and Rising Down - and this is how I first became aware of it. I wish that everyone would get the chance to read it - Northup's writing style and the story itself, while horrific and sad, is still so very important. This past weekend I was in a movie theater and I saw a preview for an upcoming big budget movie made from this book. I nearly choked on my popcorn. I just hope that Hollywood didn't make hashwork of this story and for those that won't get the chance to read the book, that Northup's tale will educate and inspire a new generation. And perhaps help those of us that are searchers for truth get a little bit closer to understanding.

  • Petra X
    2019-06-08 23:33

    I know it's a genuine slave narrative, but it is just one-note. It concentrates on episode after episode of intense and repeated physical abuse. I don't doubt its veracity but there are far more nuanced - and readable - narratives out there. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is about life as a slave when not being physically abused. For most slave owners slaves were extremely expensive farm animals and only the richest who could afford 'herds' of them would be able to maltreat them on a continual basis. If you want hard work from your oxen, and you want to breed from your cows, they have to be kept healthy and in good condition. Well fed, rested, and with down-time. Not a life of ease or quality, not one without the whip, but one designed that the animals will do their job dawn to dusk and breed on a regular basis. So it was with slaves.Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is that of a slave who escaped and became a famous abolitionist, in the US and the UK, and a newspaper publisher. In the UK, which had never had slavery (view spoiler)[UK slavery was concentrated in the Caribbean, not in the UK, where the few slaves were mostly in London and treated much the same as the other servants (hide spoiler)] Douglass was an enormously popular public speaker. A little known, but important fact about him, is that after the death of his wife, he remarried a white feminist, and supported feminism as strongly as he did anti-slavery measures.The House of Bondage: Or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves is a collection of short slave narratives that provide an immensely depressing look at a period of American life that makes one wonder how people could actually have thought it was all right to treat other people like that for mere profit by the mental device passed from one white person to the other, of pretending that black people weren't quite human. In the New Testament, it is said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." The Church at the time, as do many now, preached that wealth and mistreatment of other human beings was a perfectly good way to be considered a decent religious person and no bar to eternal life at all. So it was without guilt, these men and women who owned other people and treated them like animals and beat them and took their children from them went to church on a Sunday with a clean and pure conscience and were generous, no doubt, at the collection. Not only that, but in order for their souls to be saved, and in order to control them with less beatings encourage the docility of fatalism, plantation owners taught their slaves Christianity. That way they could see their pre-ordained place in the world, the stain of their blood, and that accepting this would give them eternal life in heaven. Amen. (view spoiler)[This is not anti-Christian. The religion of the South was Christianity and this is how it was. The more modern experiences of slavery, set in the 90s, books such Mende Nazer's chilling Slave: My True Storyand Francis Bok's Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America both set in Sudan (and in Mende's case, in London, about a mile from my flat. I used to walk past where she was enslaved every day without knowing it) do not show any religious involvement. The slaves in Sudan were/are usually Muslim, occasionally animist or Christian, the slavemasters being Muslim. However, the Muslims of Sudan do not preach one way or another about slavery. It is interesting to note that Saudi Arabia which had an estimated 300,000 slaves in the 1950s, did not ban slavery until 1962. In Mauritania slavery was not banned until 2007. In Niger, in 2003 when slavery was finally banned 8% of the population were enslaved. However it is very politically-incorrect to mention African slavery of Africans, this would lessen the effect of hate-speech against all whites which is very prevalent and acceptable in the Caribbean, I don't know about the US. (hide spoiler)]To sum up, the book is not an easy read, it is very distressing. For those not responsible but looking back to their country's involvement in that awful institution, I suppose it could be some kind of mea culpa. And from that point of view, in a fulfilling way the book could be a deep emotional experience.

  • Rowena
    2019-06-15 02:38

    “Now had I approached within the shadow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the sweet light of liberty for many a weary year.”I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea that this was a true story. I find it odd that I’d never heard of this particular slave narrative, given how powerful and informative it is. I decided to read it after all the media frenzy surrounding the movie (which I haven’t watched and probably won’t).This narrative was written by Solomon Northrup, a freeman kidnapped from the North, and taken to a work on a plantation in Louisiana, where he lived for 12 years until he was rescued. The whole account was very detailed; we are given names, dates and so on. There are also graphic depictions of violence and plenty of sadness and grief.The more stories about slavery that I read, the more I realize what a diversity in stories and experiences exist. There are always common themes though: the brutality of the slavedrivers who don’t get their comeuppance, for one, and the injustice of the whole system too. The fact that the slaves were treated as less than animals is something that makes these kinds of stories difficult to read.I was expecting to be more affected by the pain and violence that I knew slaves experienced at the hands of their masters. However, I found myself more affected by the psychological pain that they had to endure. Coincidentally, I just read a poem by African-Canadian poet Dwayne Morgan entitled “The Academy Awards” which goes: “And you don’t know the psychological And spiritual trauma, Of constantly having to justify your existence, Your location and your presence.”I felt quite ignorant about American history while reading this narrative; I was unaware that there was a time when some blacks were free while others were enslaved.As difficult as it is for me to read anything related to slavery I believe it is important for stories like this one to be heard. I’m in awe at how much resilience African-American slaves showed.

  • Maria Espadinha
    2019-06-04 05:30

    Um Herói da Vida RealExistem múltiplas e variadas ficções sobre a escravatura nos USA. Mas estórias verdadeiras, narradas por alguém que as sofreu e viveu, não conheço outra além desta!Solomon Northup nasceu e viveu livre no Norte dos USA. Um dia foi emboscado, raptado e vendido como escravo no Sul. E por lá permaneceu até ao dia em que reconquistou a liberdade que lhe fôra tão barbaramente roubada.Por um lado, esta é uma narrativa chocante, onde somos, como em muitas outras, confrontados com a força do lado mais negro da alma humana, que no caso concreto, fôram as atrocidades cometidas contra os escravos do Sul dos USA.Por outro lado, também nos anima, ao mostrar com um exemplo muito real que a resultante do trio: coragem, determinação e causa nobre é uma força capaz de derrotar a anterior. Solomon Northup, é sem sombra de dúvida, mais uma figura inspiradora, que prova que o melhor da natureza humana tem um poder capaz de milagres!São homens desta craveira que demonstram quanto vale a pena investir no nosso potencial positivo.Podemos aproximar-nos dos "deuses" ou dos "demónios". A escolha é nossa!

  • Becky
    2019-06-20 05:36

    I cannot fathom this book. Everything that happens in this autobiography is so distant from anything that I have experienced that I cannot even conceive of the injustice in any sort of measurable or reasonable amount. I feel angry and heartbroken that this sort of crime ever took place in our country, disgusted to the point of choking, so horrified that human trafficking through America is still so present and strong, so helpless because I don’t even know how to help, because I want to help, because I would want to kill the person that took my freedom from me and forced me to work, in any capacity, that treated me like chattel.There were times that I felt Northrup was being too forgiving, or wasn’t being hard enough, on the people he encountered in the South, but having read substantially from this time period this lack of emotion seems to be due in part to stylistic choices- effusive emotion never really comes through writings from this period. I don’t know if it just wasn’t distinguished to write with unbridled passion, but you don’t see it in literature from this time, and so I assume that Northrup was just writing in the style of his day. There were other times where you could feel his rage and dismay, but it was all bundled up in what I am sure was the editorial process. And maybe I willfully distanced myself from some of it, because it was just so hard to force myself to confront the beatings, the whippings, and the separation and sorrow he was writing about.In fact, there are times that its dry, matter-of-fact portrayal of this tragedy (not just of Northrup, but the tragedy of slavery) was its strong point. He is a reliable narrator, it never feels that he is embellishing, and hearing about the forced desertion of a child as the mother is sold separately in such dry tones, makes it harder to turn away from. You are just faced with the bare starkness of it all. This IS what happened, and simply put. It is powerful in its relation. How this isn’t mandatory reading is beyond me. I feel that even excerpts from this work would have substantially and radically changed my perception of my history lessons. The truth can never come too early for children, while sugar-coating history has the same effect as sugar coating teeth- you are left with decay, holes, and false teeth and tales. Perhaps it would be too hard and too brutal, but most of the world is too hard and too brutal, and if we never force ourselves to confront it in our comfortable castles in America, then it will also, inevitably, never change.

  • Miranda Reads
    2019-06-13 00:32

    What difference is there in the color of the soul?Solomon Northup, born a free man during slavery times in America, is tricked and sold into slavery. He goes from respectable carpenter, clever violinist, father of two to "Platt" (a slave from Georgia) in only a few days. This book chronicles his twelve years as Platt. Upon release, he wrote and published his account as propaganda against slavery. There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones - there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one.Now, while this was used as propaganda, it was not a fantasy story. Everything that could be verified through documents has been - this is a true account. And because of that, it is absolutely heartbreaking. The conditions, the overseers, the cruelty.I don't want to survive, I want to live.You can learn about slavery in history class but reading bland facts does not compare to first hand accounts. This sheds a complete new light on this shameful part of history. I regret not reading this book earlier. Audiobook Comments--I listened to the Blackstone Audioversion, read by Louis Gossett Jr. He read it rather well. There's another version that gives Solomon a posh (almost English) accent. That threw me off too much, so I went with this one.

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-05-27 03:27

    “My sufferings I can compare to nothing else than the burning agonies of hell!”This book is told from the view point of a man who was a slave, not some historian’s interpretation of the events or a novelist’s aggrandisement. It is a frank narrative of the events that surrounded one man’s persecution into a woeful existence and allows the reader to form their own opinion of the life of a slave. This is a unique enlightenment into the American slave system, of the 19th century, conveying the hypocrisy of the land of liberation, allowing insight into the prejudices and cruelty these men and women were subjected to.This novel is a sad read, such as was the enslavement of Solomon Northup but nonetheless an interesting one. The sadness is personified when you realise he almost accepts the situation when he is with “Master Ford” because of his kind treatment regardless of being a slave. Epps truly was a cruel man, like many other plantation owners at the time. Solomon was truly lucky of the intervention of Bass who rescued him from his persecution without whom, he would have spent the rest of his days forced to work as a Louisianan slave.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-05-30 07:31

    Twelve years a slave, Solomon Northup (1808 - 1863)Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured his release with the aid of the state. Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation and slave treatment on major plantations in Louisiana. The work was published eight years before the Civil War by Derby & Miller of Auburn, New York, soon after Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling novel about slavery, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), to which it lent factual support. Northup's book, dedicated to Stowe, sold 30,000 copies, making it a bestseller in its own right. ...تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هفدهم ماه سپتامبر سال 2014 میلادیعنوان: 12 سال بردگی؛ به روایت: سالومون نورثاپ؛ مترجمها: فرناز گنجی؛ محمدباقر اسمعیل پور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، جامی، 1393، در 288 ص، شابک:9786001761089؛ عنوان گسترده: دوازده سال بردگی؛ موضوع: بردگان، ایالات متحده، لوئیزیانا، سرگذشتنامه، بردگی و برده داری، تاریخ، قرن 19 منورثاپ 10 ژوئیه سال 1807 میلادی در شهر «مینروا» در کوه‌های «ادیراندک» به دنیا آمد. پدرش که قبلا برده بود، خانواده را به شهر مجاور «واشنگتن کانتی» منتقل کرد، و در نهایت در دهکده «فورت ادوارد» در «هادسن ریور» در 40 مایلی شمال «آلبانی» مستقر شد. نورثاپ، در اواخر دهه 1820 میلادی با «آن همپتن» ازدواج کرد. این زوج در خانه‌ ای قرن هجدهمی در «فورت ادوارد» - که اکنون یک موزه است - زندگی می‌کردند. نورثاپ در مزرعه پدرش کار می‌کرد، و زمانی که کانال «شامپلین» بین «فورت ادوارد» و رود «شامپلین» در حال تعمیر بود، در آنجا مشغول کار شد. او همان زمان برای انتقال کلک‌های چوبی بزرگ از رود «شامپلین» تا «تروا» چند قرارداد بست. زمانی که «آن»، همسر نورثاپ، در یکی از هتل‌های بزرگ «ساراتوگا اسپرینگز» در« نیویورک» کار پیدا کرد، خانواده به «نیویورک» نقل مکان کرد. نورثاپ، در آنجا به عنوان موزیسین مشغول کار شد. در سال 1841 میلادی دو مرد سفیدپوست، با یک پیشنهاد کاری خوب، نورثاپ را راضی کردند همراه آن‌ها به «واشنگتن دی‌.سی.» برود، اما در آنجا او را ربودند، و به «نیواورلینز» بردند، جایی که نورثاپ به عنوان برده فروخته شد. نورثاپ 12 سال بعد را، در یک مزرعه پنبه، در «لوئیزیانا» بردگی کرد، تا اینکه بالاخره دوستانش در «ساراتوگا» باعث آزادی او شدند. نورثاپ، در 1853 میلادی خاطرات خود را از آن دوران پرعذاب، در قالب کتاب منتشر کرد، و کتاب او مورد حمایت طرفداران الغای بردگی قرار گرفت. نورثاپ سپس با فعالان «جنبش آزادسازی بردگان» همراه شد، و به برده‌های فراری کمک کرد تا در شمال شرقی آمریکا و کانادا، آزادانه زندگی کنند، اما او حول و حوش سال 1863 میلادی در اوج جنگ داخلی، از انظار عمومی خارج شد، و دیگر کسی چیزی از ایشان نشنید. حتی در پایان فیلم «12 سال بردگی»، نوشته شده: «سالومن نورثاپ احتمالا بین سال‌های 1863 تا 1875 میلادی از دنیا رفت. تاریخ دقیق، محل و نحوه مرگ او مشخص نیست.». درمورد اینکه چه اتفاقی ممکن است برای نورثاپ افتاده باشد، نظریه‌های مختلفی هست. یک سناریو این است که او وقتی برای ارتش ایالات شمالی جاسوسی می‌کرد، به دام افتاد و کشته شد. مردی که کمک کرد نورثاپ فرار کند، گفت: «به اعتقاد او نورثاپ بار دیگر به دام افتاد». این احتمال هم هست که نورثاپ در دورانی که جنگ بر سر برده‌داری، آمریکا را از هم پاشیده بود، جایی که هیچ‌کس او را نمی‌شناخت، یا دلیلی نمی‌دید یک آمریکایی آفریقایی‌تبار را به شکلی شایسته دفن کند، مرده باشد. دیوید فیسک یکی دیگر از نویسندگان کتاب «سالومن نورثاپ: داستان کامل نویسنده دوازده سال بردگی»، می‌گوید: «شاید او سرگردان و آواره شده بود و جایی که کسی او را نمی‌شناخت، مرده باشد و آنجا دفن شده باشد.». کلیفورد براون، استاد دانشگاه و دیگر نویسنده این کتاب هم می‌گوید: «هیچ مدرکی از او موجود نیست.». چوئیتل اجیوفور، در فیلم «دوازده سال بردگی» نقش سالومون نورثاپ را بازی می‌کند. فیسک میگوید: نواده‌های نورثاپ نیز هیچ مدرکی ندارند، که نشان بدهد چه بر سر نورثاپ آمد، و او کجا دفن شده است. فیسک برای پیدا کردن محل دفن احتمالی نورثاب، راه‌های مختلف را پی گرفت. او قبرستان‌های اجتماعات بیرون «ساراتوگا»، همین طور دیگر جاهایی که همسر و بچه‌های نورثاپ، بعدا در آنجا زندگی کردند، بررسی کرد، اما در نهایت دست خالی برگشت. هیچ مدرکی مبنی بر علت مرگ نورثاپ وجود ندارد. فیسک می‌گوید: تا اواخر سال‌های 1880 میلادی صدور گواهی‌های فوت در نیویورک حالت سیستماتیک نداشت. سلیگمن، متصدی موزه‌ای در کالج اسکیدمور است، جایی که هر سال در ماه ژوئیه یک روز به سالومون نورثاپ اختصاص دارد. برای سلیگمن، معمای مرگ و محل دفن نورثاپ، بخشی از جاذبه کاری یک مورخ است. او می‌گوید: «این چیزی است که به مورخان انگیزه می‌دهد، کار خود را پی بگیرند. این پازلی است که هنوز حل نشده است.» اقتباس از آسوشیتدپرس، ترجمه: علی افتخاریا. شربیانی

  • Kyriakos Sorokkou
    2019-06-15 04:36

    cottonAfter reading this book, I will never see cotton under the same way ever again. When we think of cotton, we see something we consider fluffy, comfortable, and cosy, but for thousands of people, cotton and more precisely cotton fields were hell on earth. A lot of people were unlucky to be born in an era where your skin colour defined whether you were a master or a slave.Black people from their late teens up to their deaths were working for 360 days in cotton fields, in maize fields, on sugar plantations, bringing high profits for their masters, but they were never considered workforce or (even) humans. They were something better than animals, but not humans.And what is worse than being born a freeman, live as a freeman, create a family and suddenly, at your early 30's you're kidnapped and you are sold as a slave, working for twelve miserable years.Solomon's story has a happy ending. But for thousands and thousands of people their stories didn't. Let's make this book a symbol that indicates thatAll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, something obvious to me but not for many people, even today.I don't think I will be able to watch the film. The great actor Michael Fassbender, was able to create an absolutely terrifying portrayal of the plantation owner Edwin Epps.but nevertheless, this is a: Highly recommended book :

  • Richard Knight
    2019-06-20 01:23

    A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. It reads like a man telling his life story, which is fascinating, giving what the man became for twelve years, but not as engrossing as some of the new journalism that came out in the 60s and 70s by people like Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. Call it a book of its time. I actually saw the movie before I read the book, and there's an interesting difference. The movie is about the life of a slave, while the book is more about slave life. There's actually a huge difference between the two. While I could empathize more with Solomon in the movie, in the book, you actually get a sense that slave life wasn't as horrific as it truly was, given that Solomon presents a fair depiction of both a kindly slave owner and a tyrannical slave owner. There's also much more hope in the book, which is refreshing, but it makes the situation not feel as dire as it truly was. This is one instance where I think the movie is better than the book. Give it a read to get probably the most accurate depiction of slave life ever put to page. Just don't expect it to read like a movie, because it doesn't.

  • kisha
    2019-06-24 05:25

    12 Years a Slave is probably the most unique slave book that I've read so far because I can't say that I have ever read about a free person being kidnapped and sold into slavery. The concept was new to me and I imagine it was probably very common considering that is full profit for a slave trader (not having to buy a slave and then sale for profit). I can't say that I absolutely loved his book. I also can't say that I believe most of what was written to be a fact. What I believe is that he was kidnapped, drugged and brutalized and then sold. I also believe he gained his freedom. But I must admit that I have my doubts about a lot of the "meat" inbetween. For that reason alone I took away a star. I took another star away because it was a very dry read and filled with unnecessary information. I think everyone should read it at least once. I believe it is an important book and I can't believe that I didn't know who Solomon was before it was choosen by a member in my bookclub! It was a bit disappointing because I was a bit bored with Solomon's story and was more interested in some of the side characters (Patsey, Celeste, and Eliza). The end was rushed. I would have loved a full chapter or two once he returned home. But 3 stars I think will suffice for this sad story.

  • Hadrian
    2019-06-07 00:33

    This is a horrifying story made only worse by the fact that it is all true. I'll leave other reviews to go on in detail about it. I don't even have the consolation that 'well, at least it doesn't happen anymore'. Chattel slavery and abduction are still hideous problems the world over. It's all very grim to think about. Still, the world owes Northrup a debt of gratitude for bring the truth about such an awful system and the abuses it caused.

  • Angela M
    2019-05-30 02:51

    I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. I did not know about this book until I saw the movie last month. During the brutal lashing scenes and the heart breaking scene of a mother separated from her children, you could hear a pin drop in the theater. I left the movie theater, frantically looking in the Amazon app for the book. After I finished the book, I felt that same sense of being speechless that I felt after the movie. What can you possible say that would do it justice?I recently read The Invention of Wings, an amazing book and said that the depiction of slavery here felt so real, but it is in Solomon Northup's memoir that we can see the reality of what slavery was about. He tells it with such eloquence.This should be part of the curriculum for every course in American History.

  • Greg
    2019-06-04 02:30

    I appreciated this excellent book (some of its scenes still haunt me), but compared to other non-fiction slave narratives such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, there was a bit more distance of perspective here. The facts are still searing; the antidotes still filled me with horror. But sometimes the narrator feels a step removed. I read much of the account before I realized why I felt that way .. and then I got to Northup's description of the Christmas celebrations among the slaves. He writes, "Marriage is frequently contracted during the holidays, if such an institution may be said to exist among them." He wasn't one of "them." He was a Northerner. Not only does he not consider himself one of them, he wonders here if their marriages are even fully real. That comment struck me immediately as odd; looking back, I remember many of them.Solomon Northup was an exceptionally intelligent man. Southern culture wasn't his, and at times he almost seems to take the tone of an anthropological study. Perhaps that's why he includes long tracts on various customs and planting methods. The planting methods are eye opening in giving a true depiction of the slaves' grueling labor, but he goes beyond this to describe the methods in great detail - the irrigation, the plowing process, the sort of mounding for each crop. In the end, I think his objective is much larger than telling his and his fellow slaves' human stories. Much as an anthropologist studying a foreign tribe, he tries to give full picture of the Southern life and culture in that area of the South.This focus and his striking intellect make for a unique experience. Yes, sometimes the human story is slowed down a bit by the seeming diversions, but the fuller picture he provides is fascinating as well as searing. If being moved by a human story's raw power is primary, I would recommend Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl first - that book is unforgettable in its immediacy; the reader is pulled directly down into the dark pit of horrors that was slavery. If instead, one wants a fuller historical and cultural study of the period, I would highly recommend this excellent book. In the end though, the distinction is a bit artificial. The world could be improved much if every American were to read both books and many other stories besides from other periods, books that describe periods of history in enough detail that they can be understood not only with the mind but also, even more importantly, with the heart!

  • Duane
    2019-06-12 05:43

    The gut wrenching account, apparently true, of Solomon Northrup, a free black man, with wife and children living in New York State. He is kidnapped and sold as a slave, then shipped south to work on the plantations in Bayou Boeuf Louisiana. He spends most of the twelve years under the cruel tyranny of a sadistic plantation owner named Epps. His eventual escape and return to New York and his family occurs only after a series of events that aren't much short of a miracle. The narrative is painfully difficult to read and is a reminder of the tragedy that was inflicted on generations of a people that lived, suffered, and died in bondage.

  • Lela
    2019-06-09 06:39

    "There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones--there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnesses is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one, Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not--may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance--discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life; but let them toil with him in the field--sleep with him in the cabin--feed with him on husks; let them behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they will come back with another story in their mouths. Let them know the heart of the poor slave--learn his secret thoughts--thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night--converse with him in trustful confidence of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' and they will find ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves."These words found in the book written by Solomon Northrup about his 12 years as a slave in the 1840/1850's say so much about the history of the US and all the darkness in our past. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know about the dreadful institution of slavery but it was enlightening to read a first hand experience of the horror of a free Black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in Texas and Louisiana. He survived by wit, cunning and by being smarter than white human cockroaches (my apology to the insect) around him. My heart ached for all the thousands of souls who didn't make it out of bondage.It's hard to read because of the sordid and painful content and I had to take time away from it. The writing is good, though written in a very old style and syntax and I found the narrative fascinating. Highly recommended for those who can bear it.

  • Eugenie
    2019-05-31 05:25

    An enjoyable read, although distressing in parts. This true narrative is a must read, especially for right thinkers. It left me pondering the profound evil that was/is slavery. What folly is man's inhumanity towards other men! We all bear the responsibility to prevent even an inkling of such injustice wherever in the world it is still perpetrated.

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-06-07 06:46

    A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from a free black man sold into slavery and his first to be free again.Twelve Years a Slave is gut-wrenching stuff written by an immensely readable writer. Northup's journey is incredible...almost too incredible to believe. One has to continually remind oneself that he was not born into slavery, nor was he taken from overseas. His education is evident. This is no ignorant man denied an education and made to struggle along communicating with English as an untaught second language. In his accounts of his time upon Louisiana plantations he often is clearly more intelligent than his masters. So accustomed have we become to hearing former slave accounts relayed in some kind of pidgin English that it makes this cleanly and concisely related narrative seem like a fabrication.The brutality is so finely detailed, the complete lack of justice so well elucidated and the story unfolded so seamlessly, that a reader wouldn't be faulted for mistaking Northup for an established novelist. Twelve Years a Slave is gripping for its subject and execution, and I highly recommend it.

  • Ken Moten
    2019-05-29 23:42

    "I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation—only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage."I feel intense guilt saying this, but I read this book after seeing the movie. I don't simply mean the film in theaters as of November 2013, but the old Gordon Parks directed tv-movie called Solomon Northup's Odyssey. So I should have tracked this one down before watching that amazing film that is out now. That said, this book is incredible in its scope and detail. Northup's book distinguishes itself because it is a slave narrative written by someone not born and raised a slave. He describes his family history, the circumstances of his kidnapping, the history of his life in bondage and his rescue, and the mechanism and culture of Slavery in great detail. He tries his best not to leave any little detail to the imagination, so if you know nothing about Slavery in the United States, this is the book you should pick-up first. It is a story so real and sadly so relevant given the problem of human-trafficking and slaver that still exist.The thing I find interesting about the autobiographies of slaves is the variety of experience from the different perspectives. Most Americans, if they read any Slave Narratives at all, will read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave. I, myself, feel that Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the best slave narrative I ever read (as a part of The Classic Slave Narratives) and I will most likely do a review of it one of these days. Not much more to do beyond recommending you check this book out and letting Mr. Northup have the last word:"My narrative is at an end. I have no comments to make upon the subject of Slavery. Those who read this book may form their own opinions of the "peculiar institution." What it may be in other States, I do not profess to know; what it is in the region of Red River, is truly and faithfully delineated in these pages. This is no fiction, no exaggeration...I doubt not hundreds have been as unfortunate as myself; that hundreds of free citizens have been kidnapped and sold into slavery, and are at this moment wearing out their lives on plantations in Texas and Louisiana. But I forbear. Chastened and subdued in spirit by the sufferings I have borne, and thankful to that good Being through whose mercy I have been restored to happiness and liberty, I hope henceforward to lead an upright though lowly life, and rest at last in the church yard where my father sleeps."

  • Elizabeth
    2019-06-21 02:41

    “Life is dear to every living thing; the worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for it.” ― Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave“There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones - there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not - may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance - discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life; but let them toil with him in the field - sleep with him in the cabin - feed with him on husks; let them behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they will come back with another story in their mouths. Let them know the heart of the poor slave - learn his secret thoughts - thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night - converse with him in trustful confidence, of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and they will find that ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.” ― Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave

  • Chrissie
    2019-06-24 01:53

    Slavery is an abomination. The United States was from its independence from England a nation that relied heavily on slavery. It was not a land of equality and it did not offer freedom for all. This book is an autobiography written by Solomon Northup, a free Black kidnapped and taken into slavery for twelve years. He was from Upper-state New York. He played the fiddle. Given a proposition to earn extra money doing just this, he agreed to travel to Washington D.C. It was here he was kidnapped and illegally sold into slavery. This was in 1841. In 1853 through the help of a white Canadian he regained his freedom. Within a few months his story was published. According to Wiki, "The first scholarly edition of Northup's memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate." He worked on three plantations in Louisiana.This is an excellent book to read after Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad; it gives you the personal story of the historical events summarized in Foner's book.I liked this book because it shows how history played out in ONE person's life. What I admire most is the dignity with which Solomon Northup relates his tale. This is no sobfest. It is without melodrama. This isn't necessary given that the events themselves are so terrible. I admire his restraint. I admire that he details other aspects than his own tragic events. He talks of Christmas celebrations and cotton and sugar cane production, clothing and meals and food and of course the injustices committed. The writing is clear and straightforward, as well as the audiobook narration by Hugh Quarshie. I did sometimes wish I could have questioned the author about facts that seemed a bit unclear.A three star book IS worth reading. I feel I must repeat this over and over again.

  • Kells Next Read
    2019-06-18 00:48

    Atlas! I had not then learned the measure of "man's inhumanity to man," nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain. This was such a profound, heart-rending, eye opening and enlightening read. I was literally, an emotional roller coaster while perusing the pages of the book and found it difficult if not impossible to stop once I had started. Words fail me to express how necessary and important it is, to not on read (to gain a better understanding) but also to be able to pass on to our current and future generations the aflications of those held and oppress by such an unfathomable period. *Weeps*

  • Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
    2019-06-09 07:42

    I am afraid that I am guilty this time around of watching the movie before reading the book.Twelve Years a Slave is Solomon Northup’s story of how he was kidnapped, drugged, beaten and sold off as a slave. It is a detailed account of 12 years of his life that he spent as a slave. The brutalities that he had to endure, the psychological torture that it was and the stories of the people who touched his life in one way or the other. He not only narrates his own story, but through knowing him and his life we learn more about other slaves, slave catchers, the general conditions of a slave and also the relationship between the master and a slave.I wish that this was a piece of fiction so that I could just say that it was brilliantly ‘plotted’ and skillfully narrated and move on.But that is not the case… this isn’t just some fiction but the dark facts of humanity. When we hear about slaves, we pity them thinking that they had a hard and difficult life. But to hear the first hand account of that life breaks your heart so badly. It was so difficult to imagine that a person had to live a life like that and then go back to our own comfortable lives. His trials and tribulations over those years are bound to touch a person in the most deepest ways - to be beaten physically in an inhuman manner may still be bearable, but the psychological torture that it was and the effect it can have on a person is so immense.Solomon Northup’s life will touch everyone who reads this book and maybe even influence the readers to treat others better. And while the film deserved the Oscars, it is not even close to the book’s emotional dynamite!A MUST READ

  • Alice Lippart
    2019-06-25 00:47

    Distressing, powerful and fascinating. This offers up an interesting, and in some ways, singular perspective into a part in history. Although some people may compare it to other narratives of the same time and find them more valid, I disagree - this is one mans experience of Slavery in the south and an experience equally worth reading about.

  • Dorothea
    2019-06-10 01:36

    Is it weird to have a favorite slave narrative? This is my favorite slave narrative, mainly because Solomon Northup was BAD. ASS.Somebody needs to make a superhero-style comic about this man.Northup was born free and lived most of his first thirty-three years in New York, where he married and had three children. His wife, Anna, was a chef and one of his talents was playing the violin, so during the social season they often parted ways and took temporary jobs in catering and entertaining.In 1841 Northup was approached by two friendly men who offered him a violin-playing job in New York City. Thinking he wouldn't be gone long, he didn't leave a note for Anna, who had already found a job away from home.The two men persuaded him to accompany them to Washington, D.C., where they drugged him. He awoke shackled in the slave pen of one Burch, who beat him into silence when he protested that he had been kidnapped.Burch sold him down South to Louisiana where, as the title says, he spent the next twelve years of his life enslaved. Until the very end of this period, he kept his history a secret, even his name -- he went by the name "Platt" which Burch had assigned him.This was a country from which total escape, it seems, was unheard of -- too much of the South to travel North through, too much careful searching of departing ships, dangerous swamps. People did sometimes manage to escape to the swamps for a short respite from their work. Northup went there once, on the run after beating up one of his masters (a scene I would very much like to see in comic-book form). He had the advantage of being able to swim, and, although the swamp was full of alligators and poisonous snakes, none of them hurt him.His plan was to send a letter to the white men he had known in New York, enlisting their help to rescue him. It took him nine years to obtain a piece of paper for this act, and then he had to burn the letter because the person he had nearly trusted to tried to betray him. Not until the last year did he find one trustworthy white man who could help him.In his twelve years in Louisiana Northup observed the slaveholding South in great detail, and he reports in his book about the personalities of his different masters and fellow slaves, architecture and social customs, and how the work of cotton- and sugar-production was done. This is all fascinating but what I love best is to read about the ingenuity, courage, and physical prowess of Northup himself. Partly because of what he learned in his early life in the North, but I think mostly because he was an extraordinarily intelligent man, he was able to do so many novel things: For his first master, he proposed and executed a system of river transportation that greatly improved on the road transportation hitherto used. After examining another plantation's loom, he built one himself that worked perfectly. He invented a fish trap so that slaves whose masters had not given them enough food didn't have to hunt at night after exhausting themselves in the fields. He made his own ink for the first letter-writing attempt. Etc. etc.There are also many examples of his strength and dexterity (at some things -- he admits that he was terrible at picking cotton). My favorite occurs when his master Epps makes him a driver of the other slaves, requiring him to whip them:If Epps was present, I dared not show any lenity, not having the Christian fortitude of a certain well-known Uncle Tom sufficiently to brave his wrath, by refusing to perform the office. In that way, only, I escaped the immediate martyrdom he suffered, and, withal, saved my companions much suffering, as it proved in the end. ...... If, on the other hand, he had seen me use the lash freely, the man was satisfied. "Practice makes perfect," truly; and during my eight years' experience as a driver, I learned to handle the whip with marvelous dexterity and precision, throwing the lash within a hair's breadth of the back, the ear, the nose, without, however, touching any of them. If Epps was observed at a distance, or we had reason to apprehend he was sneaking somewhere in the vicinity, I would commence plying the lash vigorously, when, according to arrangement, they would squirm and screech as if in agony, although not one of them had in fact been even grazed.<3 <3 <3 <3

  • Vanessa
    2019-06-15 01:36

    12 Years a Slave is an utterly affecting non-fiction narrative. It follows the free man Solomon Northup, a man with a loving family and a talent for the violin, who was drugged and sold into slavery where he suffered for 12 years before eventually regaining freedom.I was already familiar with Solomon Northup's story, having seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation back when it was released a few years ago, and the film affected me so much that I don't think I could ever watch it again. Listening to the original tale written by Northup himself on audiobook was a way for me to re-engage with the tale, and I thought this was a fantastic medium to experience it in again. Hugh Quarshie's narrative was fantastic and full of feeling, and I listened to this for hours at a time.The book itself provides a little more detail than the film does, with explanations of how cotton and sugar is picked and harvested, which I found very interesting. The horrors that Solomon and the other slaves experience are truly sickening, and the young slave girl Patsey's story in particular is one that is haunting and tragic. If you are looking to read this book, I would thoroughly recommend this audiobook as it's a great, immersive way of engaging with the tale. Although I can't say it's an enjoyable listen, it's informative and touching.

  • Carol
    2019-06-06 02:46

    3.5 Stars. Solomon Northup, a free man, survives a brutal twelve years after his capture into slavery and is finally able to procure his way back home through the diligence and persistence of one true friend. While a true story written in 1853, I sometimes found it unconvincing (not that I doubt it as fact) and difficult to connect with Solomon during the telling of this horrific time in his life perhaps bc of the narrator and/or writing style, I'm not sure? A good portion of the story is spent giving a grueling account of life as a slave on a plantation, the drudgery and never-ending long, hard days working in the fields. I plan to see the movie version of the book next month hoping it will recognize Solomon's intelligence and courage dealing with the hardships he had to endure.

  • Lawrence
    2019-05-27 00:36

    WOW!! What a book! This is a must read! It's hard to imagine being taken away from your home and made a slave for 12 long years. It was a hard read, but again a must read.

  • Connie
    2019-05-25 01:34

    4.5 stars. First I must note that I listened to the audio of this and am awfully glad. Louis Gossett, Jr brought Solomon Northup to life for me. His voice is brilliant. I am not sure I could have enjoyed reading this narrative as much as the language and the cadence is from a different time. The story is also from a different time and one that is a mark on history.I should correct myself, as this is not a story....but a narrative. I was amazed that it disappeared for decades and Solomon's voice was not heard. Thank goodness that a young woman discovered it, could not get it out of her mind and spent her life work bring this wonderful book back into the public eye. There are scenes that are horrific, hard to believe and made my skin crawl, though I imagine the truth was much harsher than the narrator describes. There is little joy in this but Mr. Northup had more "luck" than many a slave of the time. I think that there is always a place for the voices that tell of our history. They open our eyes to just how far we have come. Listening to this made me dig a bit further to find out what happened to Solomon Northup and I was sad to find that no one really knows. He seemed to have his brief moment of triumph upon returning to freedom and then once again disappeared. I am pleased that a movie has brought this long lost book to life again....I only hope that it will tell the history as well.

  • Pink
    2019-06-18 07:36

    If this were fiction, I would probably rate it lower. But this is not fiction. This is the story of how a free man became enslaved for 12 years, in that awful period of American history. How this happened, what transpired during his slavery and how Solomon came to achieve freedom again were all fascinating and heartbreaking tales. Equally interesting is how this story came to be told - from the ghost writer who published the book just 3 months after Solomon was freed, to it's 20th century resurrection, after a chance encounter led a young girl to make it her life's work in researching and bringing it to a modern day audience. The film is about to be released in cinemas here in the UK and though I'm sure it has been made wonderfully, I honestly don't think I can watch it. The story is too upsetting and I don't want to be reminded that humankind can be so cruel. The saddest fact for me is that nobody knows what happened to Solomon after he was freed, despite extensive research to find out. No grave, no records, just rumours that he was either murdered or sold back into slavery. I think I need a happy book next...