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12 Years a Slave and Other Slave Narratives

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  4,132 ratings  ·  294 reviews
Kindle Edition, Illustrated, Includes Additional Slave Narratives, including Uncle Tom's Cabin
Published November 18th 2013 by Maplewood Books (first published 1853)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  4,132 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for every American History class. There are so few first-hand accounts of slavery, this is a gem, particularly because he knew freedom before he was forced into slavery. It wasn't very graphic, I think because of the time - mid-1800s, before spill-all accounts became the norm. What struck me was how he emphasized that every slave, no matter their station, their knowledge of the world, or their opportunity, longed for freedom. They knew what it was, even havin ...more
Sheila DeChantal
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
12 Years A Slave was a powerful listen. Narrated by Louis Gossett, in a smooth tone that made you feel that he really was Solomon Northup, retelling his days and months and years with all of his rights as a free man stripped from him.

What makes this book all the more breathtaking is that it is non fiction. Solomon shares with his readers the good, the bad, and the extreme ugliness of man during this time period. I found my heart heavy as I can not wrap my mind around what it had to have been li
Sam toer
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
“12 Years a Slave”, subtitled “Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana”, tells the story of Solomon Northup, an African-American freeman who, in 1841, was snatched off the streets of Washington, and sold into slavery. Thereafter, he was passed from master to master, ending up in the plantation of the brutish drunk Edwin Epps . After 12 years, he was saved by the help ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is well worth reading. Solomon Northup's biography is not just about his own personal suffering, which is truely terrible, but also about the mindset that sustained slavery in the southern states for so long. The economic dependency of the sugar cane and cotton industries upon slave labour and consequent dehumanisation and exploitation of slaves without which estate owners would never have survived the South.
The film faithfully captures the sentiments of the book and also well worth s
Pat Elliott
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to rate a book such as this, takes some thinking. I cannot rate it as enjoyable, because the suffering it details is not enjoyable. Amazing as in astonishing is a better rating. The kidnapping and being sold into slavery is harrowing. The appalling treatment is harrowing. This history is important, because it serves to remind us both of the cruelty meted out to slaves, and of the humanity of those who fought to conquer it.
Zoe's Human
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lt
My rating is an average of the ratings of each individual component of this collection rounded up. My overall review would be to go ahead and download this since it is free and some of the works within are must reads. The breakdown:

Twelve Years a Slave 5 stars
This is the most well written slave narrative I've ever read. It's a pity Mr. Northup never had a literary calling beyond sharing his experience for the cause of abolition. He is not only insightful but also has that gift of making the read
Liara ( I read dead people)
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction works.
With a necessary dose of reality, the autobiography 12 Years of Slavery promises to thrill and shock readers worldwide. The book that gave rise to the eponymous film is full of strong emotions and portrays perfectly the appalling experiences lived by author Solomon Northup during the period in which he was forced to undergo a life of slavery.

"Having been born a free man and enjoyed for over thirty years, the blessings of liberty in a free state and at the end of that period and abducted and sold
Ami Sahl Nicholson
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Nightingale
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
After seeing the movie I wanted to read the book. That said, I did it with much trepidation. I didn't want to be disappointed if the book was done exactly like the movie. What the movie, failed, I feel, in their rendition was how educated and well spoken Solomon Northup was. His elegant style reflected on each and every page. He did not transgress into how brutal the overseers and plantation owners were but the reader was informed and enlighten to how conditions were. As he stated at the end of ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio. A little stiff as language for the 1800's can be.
But incredible descriptions of slave life.
Emily Jameson
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I feel as if my high school AP History teacher and college American History professor failed me by not enlightening me to the existence of this book. It took Hollywood and an Oscar-nominated movie (which I have not yet seen) to clue me in. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but nothing compares with a first-hand narrative of a historical experience. This one was excellent.

Twelve Years A Slave is told from the perspective of Solomon Northup; a freeborn black man living in New York,
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was incredibly moved by this book--a first person account written in 1850 about what it was really like to be a slave. The author, Simon Northup, describes heinous acts of cruelty in a matter-of-fact manner, which somehow gives the book even more power. He is quick to give credit to the few "nice" slave-owners he encountered, but makes it clear that every slave desired to be free, regardless of how he or she was treated. Although I certainly knew that slaves got whipped, I had no idea how freq ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book. I'm so glad I decided to read the book instead of seeing the movie. I was hesitant to see the movie because of the graphic violence. The book has no foul language or graphic violence. It does describe what is happening to the slaves, but it does so in such a stark way, that it is powerful without being overly descriptive. Solomon Northup comes across as an educated, dignified and religious character who never loses sight of who he truly is despite the abuse that is hea ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only read Twelve Years a Slave and not the other books included. Twelve Years was excellent. It was so well written that I could vividly see the scenes of which Solomon Northup wrote. This is the truest account of slavery that I have ever read. It is so disappointing that he was taken away from his family and not listened to when he stated he was free. To live those 12 years in slavery took more than courage to endure. I highly recommend this book.

Also, the movie is good, but does not do this
Chris Webber
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I get God triggers when I read books like this. For a person who already is aware of too much of the ugly animal side of humans, these confirm my negative bias rather than make me aghast that human events like this have happened all through history, and they continue to happen.

Kudos to the author for the bravery and courage to speak his truth in such a descriptive manner. Maybe if ALL people started opening up both eyes to the atrocities we commit to each other instead of glossing it over and pr
La Wah
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is awesome!!i would recommend it to history class. The book is touching and you can feel what solomon is through.
First he was a free man and stolen in to slavery. He been treated bad as a slave and he weren't allowed to say he was a free man,and he have to work until day light is gone. As he work on building a new cabin and he found a man who would let him have his freedom backs.
I would tell my friends to read book because it's awesome!!.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Does not work

Bought this for my African-American course because it is supposed to have several of the works we are reading. However, once downloaded it seems not to work. I cannot access any of the texts, and only see a few black and white images. I removed from kindle and downloaded again, and the same thing is happening. Disappointed in this purchase but glad that it was so cheap. I feel like I just got tricked into donating money.
Shannon Canaday
Oct 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: whiffers
I bought this book quite a while ago and put it in my "not finished" folder on my kindle after about 20 pages. Recently on a holiday and with my credit card expired, I had to pull out something to read that I already owned.

I've given it a good long go, can't really say how far I've gotten because I've read about 200-275 pages and my kindle says I still am only at 4% and 27 hours to go. So...........ya, no. I couldn't connect in this book. I wanted it to be a book similar to Book of Negroes and i
Noel Burke
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This was truly a sad story, but the ending was very good. It was well worth my time to listen to the story. Slavery was truly a horrible thing. I appreciated viewing slavery not simply from a history book but through the eyes of a person who lived it. I want to see the movie now.
Tristan Maxwell
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a very good book and the perspective made it moving. This being non-fiction and telling what slavery was like through the eyes of a slave that had been beaten, whipped, taken away from his family is really sad.
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
the fact that this is a primary source and is so well-written is simply extraordinary
Ainsley Miller
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd been putting off reading this book for ages, oddly not because of the subject matter but because I was worried about the language used because of the time this book was written.
This book is so good and I found it to be very true to the film. I found that I had to keep reminding myself that this actually happened and that people are that cruel.
I would strongly recommend 12 Years A Slave it is a fantastic history lesson, I'm also visiting Louisiana next September so I'll be able to the visio
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Soloman Northup was born a free man in Minerva, New York in 1808. Soloman originally helped out around his farm, like his father had before him. But soon he realized he had a talent for playing the fiddle. After marrying Anne Hampton on Christmas Day 1829, two men (supposedly) from a traveling circus show asked Soloman if he would join them and Soloman agreed. But soon after joining the two
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing, and one of the very few books I believe every person should read. I thought the language of the 1800's would make it (an even more) a difficult read, but the writing isn't stilted and it almost reads like a novel with great sentences like, "His manners are repulsive and coarse, and his language gives speedy and unequivocal evidence that he has never enjoyed the advantages of an education."

The detailed accounts of the absolute arbitrary and insidious nature of slavery are fascinating
Amy Schumacher
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointed.

I can't even read the book. All I can see are the pictures. At least it only cost 99 cents.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a deeply touching, interesting and tragic account of slavery in nineteenth century America written by a former slave.

Solomon Northup was a free black man living in the State of New York when America was still split between the non-slavery states in the north and the slave-using states in the south. Solomon was drugged, kidnapped and taken into the deep south where he was sold into slavery to work on plantations for twelve years until he was finally able to get word to his family of his w
Annemarie Donahue
HOLY COW! This book was amazing. So I'm not saying anything that is new or ground-breaking as this book has been read by much smarter people who have a better pedigree to say stronger, smarter things.. see they wouldn't even say "things". But this book written by Northup himself was touching, terrifying, truthful and very humbling. Quick overview of plot: he's talked into traveling with two guys to Washington to play the violin as part of a circus, he's paid well and is about to return home when ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
rated based on importance, not reading enjoyment, obviously. It took me a long time to read this, most of the time because my head was just not in the right mindset to read this. It's... the worst book to read on the train because this is the kind of story yu need to make time for, you need to focus on.
Josephine Sorrell
Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave recounts the author’s life story as a free black man from the North who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South.

The son of an emancipated slave, Northup was born free. He lived, worked, and married in upstate New York, where his family resided. He was a hard working, talented laborer and also an accomplished violin player. In 1841, two con men offered him lucrative work playing fiddle in a circus, so he traveled with them to Washington, D
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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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“Whoever visits some estates there, and witnesses the good-humored indulgence of some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and all that; but over and above the scene there broods a portentous shadow—the shadow of law. So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to a master,—so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil,—so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery.” 2 likes
“with a scrap of bacon on her” 2 likes
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