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195 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When All Else Fails, Only Hope Remains
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...
Published 12 months ago by Anari

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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good book, poor edition
This is a fascinating book, but this edition is a hard copy of an e-book edition from Digireads.com, and like many ebooks it's full of typing errors. Some are so bad you can't even guess what the word is even meant to be, and the frequency of errors starts to grate after the first couple of chapters. I have decided to throw it away and buy a good, honest, old-school...
Published on 10 Mar 2011 by Richard75


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195 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When All Else Fails, Only Hope Remains, 27 Oct 2013
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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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, 9 Mar 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Twelve Years a Slave: A True Story (Collins Classics) (Paperback)
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.

Because Solomon was from the State of New York, this actually turned out to be his salvation as that State had already passed a statute if such a thing should happen to a black resident, with regards to kidnapping and sold into slavery. For twelve long years Solomon was a slave, and then thankfully due to a Canadian helping him his friends from New York were able to locate him. Mainly in part to the new film release of this that we do in part owe a thanks to this book once more being widely available as it reminds us all of man’s inhumanity to man and that as we are now in the Twenty First Century perhaps more thought and action should be given to preventing slavery and other inhumanities from continually occurring. I’m no optimist and I know that things such as wars are inevitable, but slavery and other degradations of our fellow humans should be stopped if we want to progress as a species.

This book also includes some appendices which give you the law as set out by the State of New York with regards to the kidnapping and slavery of their citizens, the memorial sent by his wife to the Governor, and the freedom of passage given to Solomon by the State of Louisiana. This in all is a compelling and harrowing memoir that I am sure most people interested in the history of slavery, or American history will want to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Born free, captivity borne, 4 Mar 2014
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Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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Although it is unclear to what extent this story was "ghosted" at the time, it is a vivid first-hand account of the experiences of Solomon Northup, born to a freed man in the New York area but tricked and kidnapped into slavery in the Louisiana of the early 1840s.

Having seen the film already, I knew what to expect plot-wise, and assumed that, since McQueen's drama is so powerful, I would gain little from reading the book, the reverse of what is normally the case i.e. books usually out-class the films on which they are based. In fact, I was impressed by the immediacy with which Northup's thoughts come through the language which, apart from occasional wording that seem quaint to us now, is for the most part a very articulate and engaging flow. I was also surprised and pleased how closely the director had kept to the book. There is a particularly powerful scene in the film where Northup is forced to beat Patsy, a young slave woman who is guilty only of going to obtain from a kindly neighbour soap denied her by a jealous mistress. I thought that McQueen must have exaggerated this incident for dramatic effect but found that it tallies with Northup's description. The latter's account of how Patsy is caught between a sexually abusive master and vengeful mistress makes almost unbearably moving reading even when one has seen the film.

I respected Northup's honesty, for instance, in regarding himself as superior to those born to slavery and reduced to a bestial state by their treatment, although at the same time he clearly respected and felt sympathy for those left in bondage after his release. He also conveys well the “catch-22” situation in which to reveal his past experience of freedom, and his ability to read and write, put him at greater risk of violence, since the slave-owners felt threatened by workers who did not conform to the stereotypes which seemed to justify their inhuman treatment.

The academic Sarah Churchwell wrote recently of the theory that Northup may have been a bit of a rogue in real life, colluding in his kidnapping in a money-making scam which backfired on him, but there is no evidence of this in the autobiography. Some of the interesting notes at the end of the book suggest that Northup may have fallen into drunkenness after his release, and been recaptured, but this cannot be proven. It could be that Northup became embittered, in view of the irony that, as a black man, he was not entitled, once free, to give evidence in court against those who had wrongfully sold him into slavery.
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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
By 
Mr. J. H. Wheeler "Easy Street" (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This is an appalling first person diary of human cruelty and maltreatment, but it does make for page-turning without cessation...it 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!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe its a true story., 28 Feb 2014
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This book transports the reader to a life of horror that cannot be imagined. From a very violent capture and enslavement to many years of torture, starvation and overwork. To think that the writer celebrates his final freedom, while his 'owner' only looks at the situation as a loss of property is hard to put into perspective. While Solomon Northup is finally safe in the arms of his family, those who were his co-workers, or fellow slaves were left behind to suffer further beatings, starvation diet and eventually death, without ever having the freedom to choose the course of their own lives. The book leaves the reader with joy that Solomon finally returns home, but overwhelming sadness for all of those left behind.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars twelve years a slave, 7 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Twelve Years a Slave (Paperback)
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
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 23 Nov 2013
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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 26 Sep 2013
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Great book I bought this because of the release of the movie, exciting and engaging read don't want to put it down.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 12 years a slave, 22 Nov 2013
This review is from: Twelve Years a Slave (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your pain is my pain. So why do we hurt one another!!!, 28 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Twelve Years a Slave (Paperback)
Saw the film. Had to buy the book which now stands proudly on my bookshelf. It will be passed from my generation to my sons and their children. A history which we are all familiar with. Not a dry eye in the cinema. Joy/sadness/happiness. Such inhumane treatment to another person is shocking, revolting, unbelievable and yet it really took place. This film really brought home the enormity of slavery at its peak. I hope you enjoy the film /book . Now it is all our duty to ensure that people are treated with respect and dignity regardless of the colour or their skin or who they are.
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Twelve Years a Slave: A True Story (Collins Classics)
Twelve Years a Slave: A True Story (Collins Classics) by Solomon Northup (Paperback - 6 Feb 2014)
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