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Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a Slave (1853)

by Solomon Northup

Other authors: Sue L Eakin (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (78)  French (1)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Wow! What a book. The horror revealed in his quaint 19th century voice was totally engrossing. I admired the film but, as is almost invariable, the book was better. Really feeling history is fairly rare but this little volume evokes it to the bone. Racial prejudice is still extant, almost everywhere, even in my liberal home on the Puget Sound. Why must we be beaten with history before we progress? Why is prejudice, cruelty, oppression, subjugation and manipulation, under the authority of LAW, so tolerated in the face of bare minimal reason? The dialog on pages 178 to 180 (Mr. Epps and Mr. Bass) are at the soul of it. That debate about the law justifying oppression of many by the few, plagues us to this day, having ruined humankind since Eden. The law should be a neutral, sensible, fair, just and equitable guidance of behavior rooted in all being equal. The slavery rationalized for generations by our country but finally abhorred (by most of us I hope), is still extant though in milder form, thank God! Why must we wait to be condemned by our descendants as foolish brutes in order to make truly just laws? As during Soloman Northrup's time it is all about the money. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
A free black man in New York is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana, where he remains for a dozen years before he is rescued. It pulls no punches when describing the horrors of slavery, but what really struck me is how hard Northup worked to see the best in everyone. He does put a little more detail into the act of farming cotton and the description of stocks than I found strictly necessary, but his purpose was to educate his contemporaries about the realities of slavery, setting the record straight. He goes to great pains to give evidence that his story is true, and while he does speak about the wrongness of slavery as an institution, he is reasonable rather than preachy. Fascinating story. ( )
  melydia | Dec 27, 2018 |
I was way ahead on reading Battle Cry of Freedom for my Civil War reading group, so I decided to take a break and read something related. I'd been meaning to read this since seeing the heart-breaking movie, and as I'd found a nice copy at my favorite used bookstore last year, this seemed an obvious choice.

I thought the movie did a fairly good job of keeping faithful to the book, so most of the horrors of this story were already familiar. So what impressed me most in this reading were Northup's remarkable insights into the people around him -- both the slaves who have known such treatment their entire lives, but also the slave owners. Some of his observations of the very real cost to their humanity by the brutalities they have inflicted and/or witnessed as members of the slave-holding class struck me. Northup wasn't just a man thrust into extraordinary circumstances -- he was clearly himself extraordinary, as a writer and observer, to be able to produce such an account. ( )
  greeniezona | Jun 24, 2018 |
Heartbreaking, real, and unflinching. Even with kind treatment, this author doesn't shy away from the reality and horror of slavery - the longing for freedom trumps kindness, any time. ( )
  Cfo6 | Mar 19, 2018 |
Fantastic! When I was studying literature at UT, I did not read this book. What a shame! Enthralling story that is very well-written with an almost unbelievably horrific premise. I became emotionally invested in Northup's journey. With the exception of a few dated story-telling techniques, I really, really enjoyed this book. ( )
  scott_semegran | Jan 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Northup, Solomonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eakin, Sue LEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berlin, IraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colenbrander, AnneEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crisden, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eakin, SueEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foner, Philip S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kok, IngeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McQueen, StevePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nimwegen, Arjaan vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nimwegen, Thijs vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stigter, BiancaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Den Broucke, LeenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Harriet Beecher Stowe:
whose name,
throughout the world, is identified
with the
Great Reform:
this narrative, affording another
Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin,
is respectfully dedicated
First words
When the editor commenced the preparation of the following narrative, he did not suppose it would reach the size of this volume. - Editor's Preface
Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free State—and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained, until happily rescued in the month of January, 1853, after a bondage of twelve years—it has been suggested that an account of my life and fortunes would not be uninteresting to the public.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807101508, Paperback)

Twelve Years a Slave (Originally published in 1853 with the sub-title: "Narrative of Solomon Northup, a 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 the written work of Solomon Northup; a man who was born free, but was bound into slavery later in life. Northup's account describes the daily life of slaves in Bayou Beof, their diet, the relationship between the master and slave, the means that slave catchers used to recapture them and the ugly realities that slaves suffered. Northup's slave narrative is comparable to that of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs or William Wells Brown, and there are many similarities. Scholars reference this work today; one example is Jesse Holland, who referred to him in an interview given on January 20, 2009 on Democracy.now. He did so because Northup's extremely detailed description of Washington in 1841 helps the neuromancers understand the location of some slave markets, and is an important part of understanding that African slaves built many of the monuments in Washington, including the Capitol and part of the original Executive Mansion. The book, which was originally published in 1853, tells the story of how two men approached him under the guise of circus promoters who were interested in his violin skills. They offered him a generous but fair amount of money to work for their circus, and then offered to put him up in a hotel in Washington D.C. Upon arriving there he was drugged, bound, and moved to a slave pen in the city owned by a man named James Burch, which was located in the Yellow House, which was one of several sites where African Americans were sold on the National Mall in DC. Another was Robey s Tavern; these slave markets were located between what are now the Department of Education and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, within view of the Capitol, according to researcher Jesse Holland, and Northup's own account[1]. Burch would coerce Northup into making up a new past for himself, one in which he had been born as a slave in Georgia. Burch told Northup that if he were ever to reveal his true past to another person he would be killed. When Northup continually asserts that he is a freeman of New York, Burch violently whips him until the paddle breaks and Rathburn insists on Burch to stop. Northup mentions different kind of owners that Northup had throughout his 12 years as a slave in Louisiana, and how he suffered severely under them: being forced to eat the meager slave diet, live on the dirt floor of a slave cabin, endure numerous beatings, being attacked with an axe, whippings and unimaginable emotional pain from being in such a state. One temporary master he was leased to was named Tibbeats; the man tried to kill him with an axe, but Northup ended up whipping him instead. Finally the book discusses how Northup eventually ended up winning back his freedom. A white carpenter from Canada named Samuel Bass arrived to do some work for Northup s current owner, and after conversing with him, Northup realized that Bass was quite different from the other white men he had met in the south; he said he stood out because he was openly laughed at for opposing the sub-human arguments slavery was based on. It was to Bass that Northup finally confided his story, and ultimately Bass would deliver the letters back to Northup s wife that would start the legal process of earning him his freedom back. This was no small matter, for if they had been caught, it could easily have resulted in their death, as Northup says.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:27 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Memoir of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped, sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before the American Civil War. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, DC, as well as describing at length cotton cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.… (more)

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