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Showing 1-10 of 5,986 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 6,703 reviews
on October 12, 2013
As slave stories go, this one is, in my view, without peer. Northup's s captivating tale -- which has gained attention because of the movie that shares the book's title -- is told in exacting detail with an easy prose. He sets the stage masterfully, describing people and places before proceeding into the narrative. Unlike works of fiction, this book is so compelling because, by all accounts, it is true. There is no polemical axe to grind, as with Uncle Tom (a novel at one point wryly referenced by Northup). Here you see both the brutality of slavery and the moments of kindness by slaves and even some slave owners. Solomon tells the story with clarity and intelligence.

The free versions on other sites I found were pretty poorly formatted, so spending a dollar for a polished version on Amazon is worthwhile, but this one is not the best of them. Granted, the book is formatted adequately, and any typographical errors in this version seem to be simple reproductions of the original.

However, the supporting material is a letdown. I read the version that includes the introduction by novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez. That introduction is borderline insulting, as it makes only a weak attempt to separate accounts with fictional elements like Roots from an authentic account like this one. Worse still, Perkins-Valdez can't resist indulging in repeatedly referencing her own recently released slave novel, even going so far as to quote herself. There are almost no historical elements to this version beyond the main book -- no mention of Northup after the book, no mention of he writer who helped him pen the book, nothing. There is more information on the writer of the introduction than there is the author. One other oddity worth mentioning: the original book's preface -- the one done by the man who helped Northup write the book -- has been curiously excised from this version too. That makes this version something less than complete.

For those looking for a better version, you might consider Twelve Years a Slave - Enhanced Edition by Dr. Sue Eakin Based on a Lifetime Project. New Info, Images, Maps, which contains a robust amount of supporting material and, better still, is right now the same cost as this version.
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on October 17, 2013
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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on January 26, 2017
I bought this after watching the movie. I am a college student that works full time, so I usually don't have much time for reading things that aren't school related. I finally got around to finishing this. This is an extremely difficult book to read. What this man went through was astoundingly awful. It is an important narrative though. If you want to understand southern culture as it is today, if you want to get a deeper understanding of race relations in America, or if you just want to read a good book, I highly recommend it. You get a real picture of what institutional (versus man to man) racism is. You will also understand how far our country has come from it. If one black man can triumph over adversity in that day, all of them certainly can now. A history professor once told me that it's not enough to just say that the south was wrong, you have to understand why they thought like they did. This will definitely shed some dark light on the subject.
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on October 16, 2015
A story that illustrates the hardness of a slave's existence. It was so sad that he lost twelve years of his life and his own daughter didn't know him when she saw him again. Heartwrenching. I'm from Louisiana, and I know all planters were not as mean and cruel. as coldhearted as the one in this book, but I also know many were. I thought it beautifully portrayed the way the author showed the kindness of one to her slaves to illustrate that not all were alike. I can't get over how they only ate boiled bacon and cornbread. No wonder so many grew sick. The only rest and joy they had were at Christmas. I love historical romance and write my own, so I wanted to read this book. I'm glad I did. I read Uncle Tom's cabin as a young girl and my heart went out to slaves and how their families had to be ripped apart. In this book, not only is the man ripped apart from his family, but a young woman loses her son and daughter when they're split up and sold. That part tore my heart apart. I could just picture the mother clinging to her little girl and begging. A well written book, but I didn't care for the formatting of giant capital letters that took up pages and pages at the beginning of each chapter. That is not necessary. However, the story is well illustrated verbally for the reader to visualize. Vivid description right down to Louisiana swamps full of gators and snakes.
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on February 27, 2014
Northup's classic biography presented for the most part the evil side of slavery without neglecting the bright side. Almost everybody are willing to be enslaved to people we love and respect, to the causes we believe in and to the hobbies and addictions we have. It is only enforced slavery that brings pain and suffering that is unbearable.

Solomon Northup presented very eloquently his true tale of enforced slavery where he encountered good slave masters like Ford and evil ones like Epps. Excellent narrative even though it was written in archaic English. The length was just right without the immense length of classics with a a similar story line e.g. Les Miserable. Les Miz, although similar, had a different focus in that it presented the life and charities of Jean Valjean after he was set free from prison and released from his demons by the loving kindness of the priest and the two silver candle sticks. In contrast, the story of Solomon in 12 years ended when he was freed.

Sobering closing to Platt's (Solomom) life story of him being robbed of his freedom and prosperity, descending into the cruel shackles of slavery, despair and immense suffering for many years to his final triumph of redemption and humbling gratitude. Only the count of Monte Cristo suffered more and longer and more spectacular was his escape. Nevertheless, Solomon's story should inspire us to accept life's adversities in stride and endure without whining and bitching. There will be a silver lining at the end for those who love God and vice versa no matter how unbearable our sufferings are in the present life. That's a promise because that 's God's will.
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on January 14, 2014
Wonderful and moving story. Gives much more insight into the characters and what happened than the movie did. Only negative is that it is written in the very formal English of the time and can be hard to read. It was also written as a description, and was not written to entertain. So it can be a little dry in parts. Amazing story, very informative. Very glad I read it.
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on December 3, 2013
The book itself is great -- absolutely wonderful. But I see that all sorts of folks have rushed it into print in the last month or two, to cash in on the film (which is also great) - This edition is quite cheap and shabby; it doesn't even include page numbers. I'd recommend one of the other editions (although some of them are probably also shabby... but at least look for one from a reputable publisher. And really: the book itself should be considered a classic. It's beautifully written, and powerful in its descriptions and insights.
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on February 4, 2017
I can say from experience that bigotry is still alive in this region. I can feel the hate and distrust in the gaze of African Americans upon me because I am white. Although it feels undeserved, after first feeling resentment, and after a moment of reflection, my resentment turns, not toward those who gaze upon me, but towards the white forebears that perpetrated these incredibly evil crimes against humanity. Like the German sons and daughters of Nazi criminals, bearing the same looks from Jews, the legacy we are left with is the mark of Cain. Our white skin betrays us as the progeny of some of the most evil people to have lived in the last two centuries on this planet. If you are white and American, until you can truly accept this reality, you cannot console yourself by claiming that "it's all in the past".
If you ask yourself "well what can I do about it now?" It is simply this; endure the gazes, even the thinly veiled animosity, with humblness and fortitude.
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on January 15, 2015
Because "Twelve Years A Slave" was written by Solomon Northrup himself, it is all the more horrifying that any human being should have to suffer Mr. Northrup did. All those in bondage with him were treated so badly, it was counter intuitive. Ancient Rome and Greece before her had laws concerning slaves, that they should be clothed, housed, and fed well and be given medical attention as needed. Gladiators faced death in the arena but could earn there freedom. Still, Patrician in Rome crucified personal slaves over trifles. The laws concerning slaves in Louisiana were more concerned with usury. The most terrifying incident was the court's dismissal of the charges against the brute who sold Mr. Northrup into slavery and that Mr. Northrup's testimony was inadmissible due to his race. As Mr. Northrup was an educated man, his testimony carries more weight in documenting a brutal period of time in American history, which still has consequences in the twenty first century, long after the war between the states
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on January 27, 2017
Everyone should read this book. Even though Solomon went through horrific experiences he was still able to see the light in the darkness, the good side of human nature. His view of slavery was unique, not what you would imagine. Read it knowing that slavery was an institution of the time, one which was passed down through generations with no definition or reason. Humans sold into slavery and families who were split apart, many knew no different, had no ability to tell the world about what they experienced. Solomon was a free black man, highly educated and aware of his options to gain freedom again. I'm so glad that his story was not lost to time and the tendency of people to rewrite history.
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