Twelve Years a Slave (Start Publishing LLC) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 2.28 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Twelve Years a Slave (Start Publishing LLC) on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Twelve Years a Slave (The Original Book from which the 2013 Movie '12 Years a Slave' is Based) (Illustrated) [Hardcover]

Solomon Northup , David Wilson , N. Orr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)
Price: 8.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Wednesday, 23 April? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details
Trade In this Item for up to 2.28
Trade in Twelve Years a Slave (The Original Book from which the 2013 Movie '12 Years a Slave' is Based) (Illustrated) for an gift card of up to 2.28, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

2 Dec 2013
Solomon Northup was born a free man in New York State. At the age of 33 he was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and placed in an underground slave pen. Northup was transported by ship to New Orleans where he was sold into slavery. He spent the next 12 years working as a carpenter, driver, and cotton picker. This narrative reveals how Northup survived the harsh conditions of slavery, including smallpox, lashings, and an attempted hanging. Solomon Northup was among a select few who were freed from slavery. His account describes the daily life of slaves in Louisiana, their diet and living conditions, the relationship between master and slave, and how slave catchers used to recapture runaways. Northup's first person account published in 1853, was a dramatic story in the national debate over slavery that took place in the nine years leading up to the start of the American Civil War.

Frequently Bought Together

Twelve Years a Slave (The Original Book from which the 2013 Movie '12 Years a Slave' is Based) (Illustrated) + The Railway Man (Vintage War)
Buy the selected items together
  • The Railway Man (Vintage War) 3.80

Product details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Engage Books (2 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1927970083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1927970089
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


"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" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Solomon Northup was a renowned fiddle-player who was kidnapped and enslaved for twelve years before he was rescued by an official agent from the state of New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
187 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When All Else Fails, Only Hope Remains 27 Oct 2013
By Anari
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The cruelty of the human race never fails to amaze me. I have no doubt that Solomon Northup's narrative is as accurate as it can be, but the content of this book is truly shocking. This glimpse into African American enslavement is one of horror and shows just how brutal man can be to his fellows.

Solomon is captured and enslaved against his will, removed from his wife and two children and transported by sea to begin his new life as the chattel of another man. What he witnesses in his 12 years of enslavement is harrowing, to say the least. This is a land where Mothers are forcibly removed from their children, brutal whippings occur with frightening frequency, near starvation and being worked literally to death were common occurrences. Slaves were not even given the most basic privileges of a knife and fork or plate upon which to eat. Imagine a life where you cannot travel, marry or even post a letter without your owner's permission!

Thankfully, Solomon eventually finds a way out of his predicament, but it was a risk that might have caused his own death had it backfired on him.

Conclusion: A 5 star read. Once I picked it up, I simply could not put it down. Let's just hope that the world continues to endeavor to allow every man the right to his freedom.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No small wonder it is now a film! 23 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an appalling first person diary of human cruelty and maltreatment, but it does make for page-turning without beggars belief on many levels, but also tells the story of the curse of human bondage. If you are a history buff, you'll enjoy the look into a pre-Civil War life, gain many insights to the mechanics of slave trade, and see how slave owners were loathed and loved as well, depending on their behaviour to their property. The film should be fantastic, but be warned; if it is as graphic as the book's accounts, it'll be disturbing. More than anything, this book is about lousy luck!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars twelve years a slave 7 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book is superb it is about solomon northup a man living in america in the 1800s who was born a free man but ends up a slave for 12 years there is a film coming out later this year telling this story so if you are going to see it i recommend reading the book first
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 23 Nov 2013
By Mr D
An absolutely harrowing read. Brutally honest and direct to a fault, it's a book that will leave you battered but determined that this level of cruelty should never again be levelled at other members of the human race. Highly recommended for those who are human.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 26 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book I bought this because of the release of the movie, exciting and engaging read don't want to put it down.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 12 years a slave 22 Nov 2013
By Trotter
The book reveals nothing we didnt already know about the cruelty of slavery. However the beauty is in how it is written and one can imagine how the very detailed and descriptive text would have been considered truelly shocking in the 1870s when it was written. The book has left me keen to see the film due out early next year which by all accounts is going to be sensational.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing 9 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you decide to read this book you will see that there is an editor’s preface by David Wilson, who did assist Solomon Northup in writing his memoir. This fact, that a white man helped a black man write his experiences may be one of the reasons that when it comes to books by slaves this is often overlooked. At the time of the first publication of this it was quite well known as it came on the back of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and gave more weight to the abolitionist movement. Solomon did give lectures and such like when this was first published and then dropped out of the limelight, and I don’t think anyone really knows what happened to him, when he died, or where.

Northup was a free man although black, as he was a resident of New York, and his father had been given his freedom in the past. Northup was tricked and then kidnapped and sold on as a slave, which did happen on occasion. It is a part of the slave trade that we seem to overlook when we talk about African American history. You needed to be able to produce documents to prove that you were a free man, and in the case of Northup and many others, they were either stolen, or were not obtained in the first place. Indeed such tricks were quite old and similar ones were played on those Europeans who sold themselves into bondage to eventually achieve something in America.

Solomon gives us his account of how he found himself to be kidnapped and enslaved, and what he went through whilst dreaming of freedom. He was an educated man, practical with his hands and was married with three children and it was truly appalling what happened to him. This story is quite harrowing as most slave literature is and reminds us that such practices still are with us today, and should be stopped.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 5 Mar 2014
By Valtat
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked this book though it would not be everybodies cup of tea as the prose of the sentences is a bit hard to understand. Have yet to see the film.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Twelve Years a Slave
Written in a beautiful, elegant style, this book reveals a heartbreaking series of events that lead one into the heart and soul of American life - the division of attitude, culture... Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Mrs. J. Ewins
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
I did not see the film, which I am told was very good, but I would recommend this book as a good read and probably a fairly realistic retelling of an actual slave's experiences. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Sylvia
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve years a slave
I haven't had chance to listen to this E book yet but have listen to a serialisation on radio 4 and know it will be excellent.
Published 2 days ago by dawnT
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I saw there was a film about this book and thought I'd give it a go. You can't believe people could be treated like this. A brilliant book , it makes you think !!!!!
Published 2 days ago by JANET THE GANET
5.0 out of 5 stars staggering
An amazing book, bought this after seeing the film and I found it gripping, it is hard to understand how horrific the slave trade was.
Published 2 days ago by D. Baron
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
I chose to read the book rather than to see the film, the story is well known of the cruelty of slavery, what makes this book different is the horror from a gentleman who was free.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars EASY READING
Good story, easy to read - difficult to put down as it quite a gripping story. Guess I'll have to buy the film, now, from Amazon !
Published 4 days ago by Chas
5.0 out of 5 stars great
never read the book yet bought it for my mother
she was impressed
she hasnt read it yet but has started it
Published 4 days ago by lynn Ilerle
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Glad that I bought three different copies as just love the pictures and the way it was written, it's as though I was there. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Bambi
5.0 out of 5 stars an indelible stain on the human condition
An incredible story which should have been more widely heard a long time before now. A remarkably well told and moving tale
Published 4 days ago by Mr Alan Smith
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category