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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story For Every Reader
The passion behind the sharing of this story runs deep. It started with Solomon Northrup's courage to tell his own story published in the 1850s, continued with Dr. Sue Eakin's life-long commitment to researching and publishing his experiences in the 1960s, was brought to life by Frank Eakin's desire to expand and complete his mother's work today, and finally, was...
Published 11 months ago by leigh

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book vs Movie
The book was an easy read. The vocabulary was simple and direct. It was easy to follow whereas the movie was confusing, very dark and difficult to follow (watched on a DVD).
Published 3 months ago by Lois Brown


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story For Every Reader, September 6, 2013
The passion behind the sharing of this story runs deep. It started with Solomon Northrup's courage to tell his own story published in the 1850s, continued with Dr. Sue Eakin's life-long commitment to researching and publishing his experiences in the 1960s, was brought to life by Frank Eakin's desire to expand and complete his mother's work today, and finally, was portrayed by the readers and actors who applied heart and soul to expressing Solomon Northrup's experience which is, sadly, applicable still today in the form of human trafficking. With roots and branches like these, the story is for every reader- historian, activist, parent, child, and life-long learner.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great price!, September 18, 2013
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This a great price for a great book. I'm rushing to finish it before the film premieres in November. It's nearly unabridged which is a plus.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the book, April 10, 2014
By 
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Paperback)
I saw the movie and had to read the book. I found it fascinating to hear in more depth Solomon's account of being forced into slavery. A lot more details than were in the movie. Hard to imagine this happened in our country. It is a must read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 Years a Slave, a must read for us all., April 6, 2014
By 
Rowrich (CUSTER, SD, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Paperback)
I am glad I read "12 Years a Slave". I had heard the movie discussed in the media and knew that the movie was hard to watch because of the slave history in our country. But I was surprised to find the book was published in 1854 and that it was actually written by the citizen enslaved for the 12 years just preceding it publishing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a beautifully written memoir read by Louis Gossett Jr., January 31, 2014
This is the harrowing account of a free black man who was kidnapped. His free papers were stolen, he was viciously beaten into submission and then transported to plantations in the south as a slave. His whereabouts were unknown to any and all who could free him. The idea that any man, of any color, or any background, could be captured and penned, treated like no more than a brute animal, should have been, then and surely now, nothing short of anathema to any breathing human being. Ignorance could not be a legitimate excuse, anymore than it could have been during the Holocaust. Myself, I am at a loss to understand why an economy driven by slaves would be exalted, why greed would be elevated to heights higher than human dignity.
Man’s inhumanity to man, man’s ability to turn a blind eye to human suffering for monetary gain, will render the reader speechless and horrified. As a Jew whose history is steeped in slavery, I felt personally affected by his plight and angered to the point of distraction, because there is absolutely nothing anyone can do today to reverse the effects of the terrible injustice imposed upon people, simply because of their color. They were kept illiterate, forbidden to improve their station in life, beaten violently for the slightest infractions, by people who would not have wanted such a life for themselves or anyone they associated with, and yet, they turned a blind eye to accumulate the all-mighty dollar. Those who hated, taught their offspring to hate. Those who hated, hired overseers who hated. Those who hated often got away unscathed. Justice was usually not served for the black man. No matter how many times one reads about slavery, it is impossible to get used to the idea that human trafficking existed in this country with very little opposition, for many years, and today, still exists in other avenues of the culture.
The successful economy of the plantation depended upon slavery, but while the South flourished, the slaves did not. They worked until their deaths, without hope of freedom or any basic civil rights. In this book, there is a definitive description of the life of a slave, by a man who walked in those shoes. No man or woman could possibly begin to understand the horror of a slave’s existence, the helplessness, the shame, the humiliation, the human suffering, unless they walked in those shoes, themselves. The reader will come to understand, more fully, how cruel and barbaric the practice was and will understand why it has been so hard, for those enslaved and their descendants, to achieve success, even today.
Families were torn asunder, children were separated from mothers, husbands from wives, friends from friends, and then subjected to abuse, beatings, rape, overwork, starvation, unlivable living conditions, and brutal masters, until they were completely subdued and weakened, unable to defend themselves, unable to change their circumstances, unable to do anything but acquiesce or die.
From Solomon’s descriptions of the despicable treatment of the slaves, as if they were less than human, lower than animals in bondage, made to respond like automatons, the reader will come to understand how strong these people had to be, mentally and physically, in order to withstand so much cruelty and exploitation, in order not to succumb. One will wonder why they would even want to live under such conditions, yet they found a way to find enjoyment and pleasure in the few moments they could share together, on holidays, in evenings, in moments when they were alone. They managed to create communities for themselves, even under such horrendous circumstances. Solomon makes it a point of saying that not all masters were cruel. He often found goodness in unexpected places. He, himself, was sometimes forced to be cruel to his friends and fellow slaves, forced to lose his own humanity by joining forces with the masters in order to avoid his own abuse and beatings. His plight, during his years as a slave, when he was required to whip fellow slaves, reminded me of that of the Kapos, during the Holocaust. Kapos were prisoners who meted out the justice and punishment upon other prisoners, for their Nazi captors. Were they co-conspirators or simply saving their own skins? It is an ethical conundrum.
Perhaps not all masters were the same, but all owned their slaves and valued them more for their purchase or resale price and their productivity, rather than for their lives. Some slaves, realizing they would never be free, tried to escape. When caught, the punishment was inhuman. They were whipped beyond comprehension or murdered. Although many tried hard to please their masters, they were often caught between the petty jealousies of the master and the mistress, neither willing to understand that a slave had no choice but to do what they were told, that they had no free will. There was no safety for them. There were no defenders of their plight.
Simply reading about the beatings, often beyond human endurance, made my skin crawl, made me want to find those barbaric, immoral, insensitive savages who treated other human beings so maliciously, though they are long gone. These poor victims had no recourse whatsoever. The mercilessness of the owners and the overseers leaves the reader aghast and hoping there is an afterlife where these people do get their just desserts. They were totally selfish and cold-blooded, pitiless and callous. There are simply no adequate words to describe that blight upon our history.
The years of beatings and abuse never broke Solomon’s spirit; he saw good qualities in almost everyone he met and always maintained a positive attitude, hoping to be free again.
In this memoir, he presents a clear, concise description of slavery from a slave’s vantage point. His daily life was one of monotonous, unending labor and fear. Solomon was luckier than most. He played the violin and could entertain plantation owners, occasionally escaping the toil of his fellow slaves. He was clever and could build and repair most things, unlike the vast majority of slaves who were kept totally imprisoned by their forced life of ignorance. He was therefore, more valued. He knew of the outside world, while they knew of no other than the world of master and slave. He lived to go from his capture and captivity to freedom and his wife and family. He lived to try and see the worst of these slave traders cringe in fear, but not, unfortunately, brought to justice. Even though he was a free man in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the world, he was still subservient, still second class. Once free, I read that he lectured on his experiences and also worked on behalf of the cause to abolish slavery and to aid other slaves seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad.
The descriptions of the cultivation and picking of the cotton and the process of planting and cutting of the sugar cane, as well as the explanation of how some of the crude equipment worked, was sometimes tedious, and that was the only drawback I could find in this beautifully written memoir, read by Louis Gossett Jr.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve years a slave is a heart wrenching slave narrative., October 9, 2013
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An incredible story triumph of the human spirit over the brutality of slavery . This intense,heart wrenching narrative by Solomon Northup is a must read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, September 10, 2013
By 
Melissa Burkhalter (Memphis, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
I actually listened to the audio book three times. This book was able to reach into the depths of my emotions and reel me in from the beginning. I found myself trying to put myself in Simon's position, and his family's for that matter, so many times. This version certainly demonstrated the terror and fear in the hearts of the black people in this era. Excellent read, highly recommend. You do not have to be a historian to fall in love with this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book! Mesmerizing and important! Page-turner!, April 18, 2014
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Paperback)
I got this book after watching the movie. It let me experience the epic story and characters in a new way. I highly recommend it. The price was also great and I loved the paperback size for carrying it with me when I am on the go traveling. I recommend this book! It is an important story that must be read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Freedom Came, February 20, 2014
By 
The Prissy Snob "Prissy Snob" (Jackson, MS, United States) - See all my reviews
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“If they don't know as much as their masters, whose fault is it? They are not allowed to know anything. You have books and papers, and can go where you please, and gather intelligence in a thousand ways. But your slaves have no privileges. You'd whip one of them if caught reading a book. They are held in bondage, generation after generation, deprived of mental improvement, and who can expect them to possess much knowledge?”

Reading about slavery from Northup's perspective was quite insightful because he was born free. It felt like he was soaking in every detail from the landscape to the nature and personalities of the other slaves so that he tell this story. Being without pen and paper during his 12 years of slavery did not hinder Northup's memory. I appreciated the details even though most were painful to read.

"Truly, Patsey was a splendid animal, and were it not that bondage had enshrouded her intellect in utter and everlasting darkness, would have been chief among ten thousand of her people."

After viewing the movie based on this book, I could not wait to read Northup's actual narrative about Patsey played by the actress Lupita Nyong'o. Patsey was known by her master as Queen of the Field because she could pick 500lbs of cotton a day. She was a tortured soul and only 23 years old {per Northup's documentation}. It makes my heart glad that this slave who was treated so brutally and only praised for her labor is now known of by people all over the world. Epps nor the mistress could not stop the power of the written word.

Patsey you made it. Slavery did not keep you bound. That evil institution did not keep your story from us. Northup gave you your freedom by writing your story. You are more than the Queen of the Field you are the Queen of our Hearts. I will never forget you.

Another remarkable woman of this narrative was the slave, Celeste. Her cunningness was inspiring. She evaded the dogs. They refused to follow her tracks. Knowing something about the area that Northup writes from, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, I can only speculate that Celeste may have dabbled in "roots." She ran away and stayed in the woods for months. When the terror from the beasts of the swamps overwhelmed her she returned to her master. He fastened her neck in stocks and sent her back to the fields.

Celeste your spirit of courage and determination was not lost. Other women put it on such as Ida B. Wells and Fannie Lou Hamer. The stocks did not bind your spirit you found us.

Personally, I think the only thing Solomon Northup had to get him through those twelve years was his music. Had he not gotten to play and travel to play I believe slavery would have stolen him from his family and us forever.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, April 8, 2014
By 
Melissa McCauley (North Little Rock, AR) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Paperback)
This is one of those books everyone should read. Northrup’s account of his kidnapping and twelve years of enslavement is made even more poignant by the matter-of-fact style of his narrative.
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12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave by Dr. Sue Eakin (Paperback - February 21, 2014)
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