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Twelve Years a Slave

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  110,181 ratings  ·  7,539 reviews
Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, 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 a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, ...more
ebook, Enhanced Edition, 363 pages
Published August 8th 2013 by Eakin Films & Publishing (first published February 5th 1853)
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Chai Lặng "I don't want to survive, I want to live". A great quote in this brave story that make me cry.…more"I don't want to survive, I want to live". A great quote in this brave story that make me cry.(less)
Ryan M The way the story is written, I would say no this book is not to graphic for a 14yr old. Especially in light of the day and age we live where violence…moreThe way the story is written, I would say no this book is not to graphic for a 14yr old. Especially in light of the day and age we live where violence in media is the main stream. I find video games and cartoons to be more violent than this book, because they are violence without meaning or a message to go behind them.

The message of the book, is a true story depicting a very dark side to American history, for a young adult reader (anyone in their teens) it is not a book to be read alone, it needs discussion and reflection.

I found the story to be inspiring, filled with hope, faith, and resilience against great odd's and a unique view of slavery in America during the victorian era.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not your 14yr should read the book, you should read it first and decide for yourself it is acceptable for your family as it does deal with some heavy issues. (less)

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Miranda Reads
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Old books get a bad rap...but do they deserve it? Check out my latest BooktTube Video - all about the fabulous (and not so fabulous) Olde Boies.

The Written Review
What difference is there in the color of the soul?
Solomon Northup, born a free man during slavery times in America, is tricked and subsequently sold into slavery.

He goes from respectable carpenter, clever violinist, father of two to "Platt" (a slave from Georgia) in only a few days.

At first he tries t
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ruard_referred
There's a sin, a fearful sin, resting on this nation, that will not go unpunished forever. There will be reckoning yet ... it may be sooner or it may be later, but it's a coming as sure as the Lord is just.

-Solomon Northup, 1855

I am a middle-age American white guy obsessed with my country's shameful chapter, our "peculiar institution" - slavery. No matter how many books I read, movies I see or any other means of approaching the subject there exists a gulf of understanding that can never be bridg
Ahmad Sharabiani
Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (1808 - 1863)

Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson.

Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South.

He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured hi
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Sep 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book discusses the story of Solomon Northup, born in New York and leading a peaceful life there.

He was kidnapped in Washington city, sold into slavery, and had to work as an enslaved person for 12 long years in Louisiana.

The author delineates the slave trade in Washington D.C., and New Orleans in the 19th century. We will also get detailed information regarding the functioning of cotton and sugar cultivation in Louisiana at that time.

What I learned from this book
1) Slavery
Petra has the Chinese gift that keeps on giving
I know it's a genuine slave narrative, but it is just one-note. It concentrates on episode after episode of intense and repeated physical abuse. I don't doubt its veracity but there are far more nuanced - and readable - narratives out there.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is about life as a slave when not being physically abused. For most slave owners slaves were extremely expensive farm animals and only the richest who could afford 'herds' of them would be able to maltreat them on a cont
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
“Now had I approached within the shadow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the sweet light of liberty for many a weary year.”

I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea that this was a true story. I find it odd that I’d never heard of this particular slave narrative, given how powerful and informative it is. I decided to read it after all the media frenzy surrounding the movie (which I hav
I cannot fathom this book. Everything that happens in this autobiography is so distant from anything that I have experienced that I cannot even conceive of the injustice in any sort of measurable or reasonable amount. I feel angry and heartbroken that this sort of crime ever took place in our country, disgusted to the point of choking, so horrified that human trafficking through America is still so present and strong, so helpless because I don’t even know how to help, because I want to help, bec ...more
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very powerful and important book. It seems like lately a lot of my selections have focused on the dark side of American history - and this one is particularly dark, sad, and disturbing.

I missed the big rush to read this book a few years ago when the movie came out. But I am finally glad I picked it up. I am not sure if I will follow it up any time soon with the movie. But, I can see how this story would make an equally moving and impactful motion picture.

I think my one issue with the b
Sean Barrs
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
“My sufferings I can compare to nothing else than the burning agonies of hell!”

This book is told from the view point of a man who was a slave, not some historian’s interpretation of the events or a novelist’s aggrandisement. It is a frank narrative of the events that surrounded one man’s persecution into a woeful existence and allows the reader to form their own opinion of the life of a slave. This is a unique enlightenment into the American slave system, of the 19th century, conveying the hypoc
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciated this excellent book (some of its scenes still haunt me), but compared to other non-fiction slave narratives such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, there was a bit more distance of perspective here. The facts are still searing; the antidotes still filled me with horror. But sometimes the narrator feels a step removed.

I read much of the account before I realized why I felt that way .. and then I got to Northup's description of the Christmas celebrations among the slaves. He
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“What difference is there in the color of the soul?”

A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from Solomon Northup, a free black man, tricked and sold to slavery after which he was rescued 12 years hence.

I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. The brutality of the slave masters is so finely detailed, the complete lack of justice so well elucidated and the st
Kyriakos Sorokkou


After reading this book, I will never see cotton under the same way ever again.

When we think of cotton, we see something we consider fluffy, comfortable, and cosy, but for thousands of people, cotton and more precisely cotton fields were hell on earth.
A lot of people were unlucky to be born in an era where your skin colour defined whether you were a master or a slave.
Black people from their late teens up to their deaths were working for 360 days in cotton fields, in maize fields, on
Richard Knight
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. It reads like a man telling his life story, which is fascinating, giving what the man became for twelve years, but not as engrossing as some of the new journalism that came out in the 60s and 70s by people like Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. Call it a book of its time.

I actually saw the movie before I read the book, and there's an interesting difference. The movie is about the life of a slave, while th
Angela M (On a little break)
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. I did not know about this book until I saw the movie last month. During the brutal lashing scenes and the heart breaking scene of a mother separated from her children, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.
I left the movie theater, frantically looking in the Amazon app for the book. After I finished the book, I felt that same
Jason Koivu
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from a free black man sold into slavery and his first to be free again.

Twelve Years a Slave is gut-wrenching stuff written by an immensely readable writer. Northup's journey is incredible...almost too incredible to believe. One has to continually remind oneself that he was not born into slavery, nor was he taken from overseas. His education is evident. This is no ignorant man denied an education and made to struggle along communicating with Englis
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
12 Years a Slave is probably the most unique slave book that I've read so far because I can't say that I have ever read about a free person being kidnapped and sold into slavery. The concept was new to me and I imagine it was probably very common considering that is full profit for a slave trader (not having to buy a slave and then sale for profit). I can't say that I absolutely loved his book. I also can't say that I believe most of what was written to be a fact. What I believe is that he was k ...more
Distressing, powerful and fascinating. This offers up an interesting, and in some ways, singular perspective into a part in history. Although some people may compare it to other narratives of the same time and find them more valid, I disagree - this is one mans experience of Slavery in the south and an experience equally worth reading about.
The gut wrenching account, apparently true, of Solomon Northrup, a free black man, with wife and children living in New York State. He is kidnapped and sold as a slave, then shipped south to work on the plantations in Bayou Boeuf Louisiana. He spends most of the twelve years under the cruel tyranny of a sadistic plantation owner named Epps. His eventual escape and return to New York and his family occurs only after a series of events that aren't much short of a miracle. The narrative is painfull ...more
It is a true story of a free man who is forced into slavery. Solomon Northup was born and brought up in Saratoga County, New York, married to Anne, and had three children. He was tricked by two men named Brown and Hamilton, they kidnapped him and sold in Washington. He was a slave for 12 years under different masters. One of them is Edwin Epps, who is a drunkard and has no humanity. He was merciless, and for his entertainment, he beats the slaves to death.

In the words of the author, my back is
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: three-times-read
Required Reading
B. P. Rinehart
"I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation—only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage."

I feel intense guilt saying this, but I read this book after seeing the movie. I don't simply mean the film in thea
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
"There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones--there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnesses is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one, Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not--may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance--discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the plea ...more
Rating: 3.0/5.0

The subject of this book is very hard to read especially because it is a non-fiction. Slavery just shows the ugly face of humanity and the ugly face of United States in the 19800s. The narration and the writing of this book are really good and easy to grasp especially since this is considered a classic. I cant say this is the best book I have read on this subject but definitely it is a decent one.

In the book, we follow Solomon's life who is a free man but then he is kidnapped and
Dec 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Slavery is an abomination. The United States was from its independence from England a nation that relied heavily on slavery. It was not a land of equality and it did not offer freedom for all.

This book is an autobiography written by Solomon Northup, a free Black kidnapped and taken into slavery for twelve years. He was from Upper-state New York. He played the fiddle. Given a proposition to earn extra money doing just this, he agreed to travel to Washington D.C. It was here he was kidnapped and
WOW!! What a book! This is a must read! It's hard to imagine being taken away from your home and made a slave for 12 long years. It was a hard read, but again a must read. ...more
3.5 Stars. Solomon Northup, a free man, survives a brutal twelve years after his capture into slavery and is finally able to procure his way back home through the diligence and persistence of one true friend. While a true story written in 1853, I sometimes found it unconvincing (not that I doubt it as fact) and difficult to connect with Solomon during the telling of this horrific time in his life perhaps bc of the narrator and/or writing style, I'm not sure? A good portion of the story is spent ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this prior to seeing the movie, narrated through Solomon Northup a black man living in New York who is kidnapped and thrust into slavery.

Being told as a memoir makes this tough subject matter seem even more horrifying real, especially the experiences that some of the black women had to endure.

It’s important that books like these get adapted into movies, as I feel it raises its profile.
It’s so important that everyone should read it.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read, although distressing in parts. This true narrative is a must read, especially for right thinkers. It left me pondering the profound evil that was/is slavery. What folly is man's inhumanity towards other men! We all bear the responsibility to prevent even an inkling of such injustice wherever in the world it is still perpetrated.

Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Is it weird to have a favorite slave narrative? This is my favorite slave narrative, mainly because Solomon Northup was BAD. ASS.

Somebody needs to make a superhero-style comic about this man.

Northup was born free and lived most of his first thirty-three years in New York, where he married and had three children. His wife, Anna, was a chef and one of his talents was playing the violin, so during the social season they often parted ways and took temporary jobs in catering and entertaining.

In 1841
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
2021 Review
Just as good as the first time I read this. This wound still hurts 😢

2018 Review
A very powerful slave narrative which will make you cringe at times because of it's brutal honesty. The perspective is unique - coming from a free man who was dragged into slavery by deception. Heartbreaking, obviously!
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Solomon Northup was a free-born African American from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is noted for having been kidnapped in 1841 when enticed with a job offer. When he accompanied his supposed employers to Washington, DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. From Washington, DC, he was transported to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. After 12 ...more

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