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Review: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Posted on Jun 16, 2021 by in Solomon Northup | 0 comments

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Solomon Northup

BLURB

NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY BESTSELLER
ACADEMY AWARD WINNER FOR BEST PICTURE
GOLDEN GLOBE WINNER
SYNCS TO AUDIBLE AUDIOBOOK BY LOUIS GOSSETT

“I wish to thank this amazing historian, Sue Eakin, who gave her life’s work to preserving Solomon’s story”
— Steve McQueen, 2014 Academy Awards acceptance speech for Best Picture

In this enhanced/authenticated edition by Dr. Sue Eakin of the riveting true slave narrative that reads like a novel, you are transported to 1840’s New York, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and twelve years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War. It validated Harriett Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition. Now a major motion picture by Director Steve McQueen (produced by Brad Pitt), you can sync this e-book with our Movie Tie-in Audiobook performed by Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr.

Northup’s harrowing true story was authenticated from decades of research by award-winning historian and journalist Dr. Sue Eakin, who rediscovered the narrative in 1931 as an adolescent and made it her life’s work. Dr. Eakin’s enhanced e-book includes the original narrative plus over 100 pages of fascinating new background information based on her research and photos. A portion of proceeds from this book supports organizations fighting modern-day slavery in the form of human trafficking. To enhance your book and movie experience see our website listed in the e-book’s sample pages and download a free PDF Collector’s Extra for your library.

SYNOPSIS: Hard working Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color in 1841, enjoys family life with his wife and three children in Saratoga, New York. He delights his community with his fiddle playing and has positive expectations of all he meets. When he is deceived by “circus promoters” to accompany them to a musical gig in the nation’s capital, his life takes an unimaginable turn. He awakens in shackles to find he has been drugged, kidnapped and bound for the slave block in D.C. After Solomon is shipped to New Orleans, he is assigned his slave name and quickly learns that the mere utterance of his true origin or rights as a freeman are certain to bring severe punishment or death. While he endures the brutal life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated Bayou Boeuf plantation country, he must learn how to play the system and plot his escape home.

For 12 years, his fine mind captures the reality of slavery in stunning detail, as we learn about the characters that populate plantation society and the intrigues of the bayou. When Solomon finally finds a sympathizing friend who risks his life to secret a letter to the North, a courageous rescue attempt ensues that could either compound Solomon’s suffering, or get him back to the arms of his family.

REVIEWS – Below is from the original 1853 reviews of the narrative:

“…the extraordinary narrative of Solomon Northup is the most remarkable book that was ever issued from the American press.” – Detroit Tribune

★★★★★

Twelve Years a Slave was put on my radar after watching a BookTuber talk about it. After I started reading it I learned it was also made into a movie. I haven’t decided if I’ll watch it or not – it was hard enough reading it so I can only imagine watching it play out on my tv screen would even be more crushing.

The book is a memoir by Solomon Northup. He was a born free Black man who was kidnapped from the north and enslaved in the south for 12 years. Solomon not only shares about his experiences but also of those who he witnessed.

The experiences shared are not easy to read. They portray a time of suffering and cruelty of what life was like for Solomon and other slaves in 1841. He was rescued in 1853. To think that was only 168 years ago is mind baffling. It’s hard to wrap my head around how this was ever considered acceptable practice. “I could not comprehend the justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or recognizes the principle of slavery;”

“Really, it was difficult to determine which I had most reason to fear—dogs, alligators or men!”

Last year there was a Twitter thread about what seems racist but isn’t. And several people posted German Shepherds. I was confused by that until I read the comments relating to dogs. People talked about how dogs have been used by police to gain compliance. After reading how they were used in this book with the slaves I could see why they are viewed negatively.

While this a hard-hitting book it’s one to read to help understand the dynamics of a system of oppression.

Audiobook source: Audible Plus
Narrator: Hugh Quarshie
Length: 7H 22M

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