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12 Years a Slave
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239 of 248 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Growing up in the North,I had always found it hard to imagine that slavery not only existed in this country,but flourished.Through the years,I have read many an autobiography or history book concerning slavery and thought I knew it all. And yet I was blind.
Until I read Solomon Northrup's "12 Years a Slave." Where has this book been? It is a masterpiece of history,of one man,one free man's life. A true picture of 'The Old South'.
Mr. Northrup was a free black man with a beautiful wife and two daughters living in Saratoga,NY. He was lured from his home by slave traders who specialized in the awful practice of kidnapping free black citizens and selling them into slavery. Torn from his home and family,Mr.Northrup endured the worst that can happen to a human being,and still live.
And yet,he remained fair and honest,never stooping to the level some of his white masters did.
I am not going to rewrite the book in this review because I recommend reading it for yourself. Slavery was and is a vile institution.
Solomon Northrup is my new inspiration.
This book will shock you. But you will be the better for having read it.
My highest of fives.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 18, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Although apparently slave narratives existed toward the end of the antebellum period, they were rare. For the simple reason that lifetime slavery did not afford the opportunity for first-hand accounts to be written. And, with the teaching of reading and writing illegal in most Southern states, few bondsmen possessed the ability to communicate their stories through the written word in any event.

Solomon Northup was well educated and was afforded the liberty to write his story. Tragically, this free Negro - born free, educated and a master violinist - was lured from his New York home to Washington D.C. on a promise of employment as a violinist with a show. Drugged in our capital city - very much a southern city fully in support of slavery - Northup woke in a slave pen and soon was shipped south to New Orleans and sold into bondage.

His initial attempt to tell his DC captors he was a free man were met with a promise of death if he spoke of that to anyone. Representing a substantial investment to his owners (he had several), his talk of being a free Negro or display of his education would have invited severe punishment or death. Certainly the southern planters and contractor who owned him at various times would not have cared anyway having shelled out significant money for his purchase.

For twelve years Northup lived the life of a slave. This account is riveting. The witness to the events of slavery - the selling process, vicious whipping and being run to ground by dogs, back-breaking labor, escape attempts, rape of favorite females who caught an owner's lustful look and all of the other atrocious practices of America's "peculiar institution," are dramatic and bring home an appreciation of what it meant to a slave to be a slave far beyond what any general history of the institution can achieve. Northup also provides interesting accounts of the cotton harvesting and packaging process as well as how sugar cane plantations operated as well as general accounts of how slavery was organized and managed in the places to which he was held.

Northup is a skilled writer. His presentation of his story - and the events are so riveting that they could almost stand on their own without a narrative - makes this a very well written as well as important narrative. Although written in conventions common to the era - the author sometimes addresses the reader directly and gives commentary that current writers would feel redundant - this is a very readable and enthralling account of what slavery was probably like for many who endured it. Highly recommended.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Excellent book. Because of the author's excellent vocabulary and ability to write in such a way that the reader can envision the twelve years of horror, this book should be required reading in all high school literature classes. The author writes about his 12 years of slavery like no book I have read. The anger and emotion that is elicited in the reader is testimony that this book is a rare gem of written history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2014
Format: 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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68 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was really excited to start reading what seems to be a priceless literary work until I openedy copy I bought on Amazon. The print is ridiculously small. The front cover looks like a child's book report, which made me suspicious of the inside and for good reason. Clearly SoHo publishing has tried (and failed) to save some money by making the print small and sparing the reader an engaging cover. I'm returning this one to try another publisher. I believe another reviewer posted similar comments about this version. My apologies to anyone looking for a review of the story, I try not to do this, but I couldn't read my copy and wanted to warn others.. I'll write another when I have a legible copy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2014
Format: 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This true story (and a soon-to-be released film) is the amazing journey of Soloman Northrup, a free black man who is kidnapped, and sold into slavery, in the 1850's. His stoicism and determination are remarkable, and so is this book. A must-read for any history buff, and should be required reading for every high-school student in America.
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