This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a Slave (original 1853; edition 2013)

by Solomon Northup (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,052784,674 (4.2)120
Title:Twelve Years a Slave
Authors:Solomon Northup (Author)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2013), 152 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (1853)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 120 mentions

English (76)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
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 |
So many times I've heard flimsy defenses of American slavery in the form of "not all slave owners were awful! There were Christian slaveowners who were kind to their slaves." This may be true - but this autobiography brutally reminds us that good, kind slaveowners are STILL slaveowners - they still actively participate in unjust ownership of their fellow human beings. The system in which even the good, kind slaveowners grew up made them unable (unwilling?) to see their unjustices, instead believing that justice and love was merely displayed in how they treated their slaves. This discussion of the value of humanity was really a small part of Northup's narrative tale, but definitely the part that hit closest to home. ( )
  booksofmoerman | Dec 22, 2017 |
This unforgettable memoir was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. This is the true story of Solomon Northup, who was born and raised as a freeman in New York. He lived the American dream, with a house and a loving family - a wife and two kids. Then one day he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the deep south. These are the true accounts of his twelve hard years as a slave - many believe this memoir is even more graphic and disturbing than the film. His extraordinary journey proves the resiliency of hope and the human spirit despite the most grueling and formidable of circumstances. ( )
  cdiemert | Jul 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» 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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 57 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.2)
1 1
2 5
2.5 1
3 48
3.5 13
4 140
4.5 25
5 127

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 128,960,060 books! | Top bar: Always visible