"For sheer drama, few accounts of slavery match Solomon Northup's tale of abduction from freedom and forcible enslavement." --Ira Berlin, from the Introduction "When I read ["Twelve Years a Slave"] for the first time, it was like the first time I read Anne Frank's diary. And I wondered to myself, 'Why isn't this book on everyone's bookshelf.' . . . For me, it's a classic. It should be in every school." --Steve McQueen, director of the film adaptation of "Twelve Years a Slave, "in "Entertainment Weekly" "Frightening, gripping and inspiring . . . Northup's story seems almost biblical, structured as it is as a descent and resurrection narrative of a protagonist who, like Christ, was 33 at the time of his abduction. . . . Northup reminds us of the fragile nature of freedom in any human society and the harsh reality that whatever legal boundaries existed between so-called free states and slave states in 1841, no black man, woman or child was permanently safe." "--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "The Root"" "A moving, vital testament to one of slavery's 'many thousands gone' who retained his humanity in the bowels of degradation. It is also a chilling insight into the 'peculiar institution.'" --"Saturday Review"
Northup’s only written work is his autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave: 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 (1853) Northup’s slave narrative, the tale of a free African American man who is kidnapped, sold into slavery, and lives as a slave for twelve years, was not only a best seller for its genre and time, it was revolutionary. Twelve Years a Slave is praised for its meticulous examination of slavery and plantation society, especially against the contrast to his previous life as a musician and citizen of New York. Northup’s story has also has also been cited as representative of slavery’s horrors and has been used to support the depictions in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Northup’s narrative is valuable or the accurate description of his experiences and defines many of the slave experiences that are known. Also included: A Study Guide.