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198 of 212 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 16 months ago by Anari

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43 of 56 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars true account, 27 Jan. 2014
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I liked the frankness of the writer.
I thought that more could have been written about his family and their concerns of his disappearance.
This could be a good book for someone researching the use of slaves and people who were taken off the street and sold as slaves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enormously powerful, 1 Mar. 2015
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, which first appeared in 1853 [the year after Harriet Beecher Stowe's `Uncle Tom's Cabin' was published and sold over 300,000 copies; Stowe cited Northrup as one of her first-hand sources], is one of the most detailed slave narratives published before or after the American Civil War.

Northup and David Wilson, a white lawyer, published this book which sold 30,000 copies in its first two years with later editions following. One wonders how much Wilson contributed since many stories of ex-slaves were edited by abolitionist supporters. Unlike Stowe's more sentimental book, Twelve Years a Slave fell into obscurity until the 1930s and this edition was published in 2014 to coincide with the Steve McQueen's feature film. This edition includes a brief Foreword by McQueen, the original engravings and Appendices that contain the various documents that were needed to secure Northup's release.

Northup, 1808-1863?, was a well-educated free man, an ex-farmer and logger, and a skilled violinist and carpenter who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841. The book follows his upbringing, marriage and various jobs but focuses on his years as a slave. The early biographical detail brings Northup to life, he was married on Christmas Day, 1829, to a wife who was in demand for her cooking skills and father of three. Perhaps he was also a little too ready to roam, which caused his downfall.

The book benefits from his literacy [a slave's attempt to learn to read or write could be punished by severe beating or even amputation, since it was seen as a first step to contacting those outside the plantation] and from detailed descriptions about the kidnapping, the marketing of slaves, and their everyday lives on the Louisiana cotton and sugar cane plantations. He details the backbreaking labour of cultivation and harvesting, and violent treatment meted out by owners and overseers.

The treatment of male and female slaves are contrasted in an environment where the jealousy of an owner's wife often led to severe beatings of the latter. Northup's narrative describes the fate of a number of those kidnapped with him or with whom he worked and emphasizes the way in which all were worn down by the abusive system.

Not all slave-owners were cruel and Northup's descriptions of them are surprisingly nuanced; however, all the owners were able to behave towards their indentured slaves without constraint. He shows particular insight in appreciating that slavery dehumanised the slave owner, overseer and the slave [`It is not the fault of the slaveholder that he is cruel, so much as it is the fault of the system under which he lives.'] and he describes the way in which the children of slave owners were brought up to emulate their fathers [`....with such training, whatever may be his natural disposition, it cannot well be otherwise than that, on arriving at maturity, the sufferings and miseries of the slave will be looked upon with entire indifference.'].

He also contrasts the Christmas period, when slaves were able to eat, dress up and dance, and even have a few days off if they wished, with the rest of the year when every day was beset by the worry of not waking up in time for work, or being judged to have underperformed - in both cases beatings were the result. There was no work on Sundays unless it was required and it provided an opportunity for the slaves to to earn a pittance that they could use to buy eating utensils from their masters.

Abolitionist arguments are presented by a Canadian carpenter named Bass who is instrumental in securing Northup's release but the story makes it very clear just how dangerous it was for such opinions to be voiced in public.

The people described in the novel are real and this brings an extra emotional impact to the story of fellow slaves and owners that are now lost in the mists of time. Similarly lost is knowledge of what happened to Northup after the early 1860s. He may have succumbed to poverty or drink, or become depressed when public and media interest in his story and experiences declined, or may have set out for the American West or Virginia where his daughter lived. This mystery simply adds to the visceral power of Northup's story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars moving!, 6 April 2014
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Paperback)
If you love you will also like 'They don't want us here' by Kevin Watson. It is based on a true story set in England where the author has gone through his own middle passage. It makes painful reading while reminding us that little has changed where racism is concerned! You owe it to yourself to get this book if you enjoyed '12 years a slave' then you will love the book also.

The scenario:

The writer has kept diaries on his experiences while living under Bromford Housing Association. What could only be described as a slow psychological hanging where each day he was subjected to harassment, which finally led to arson attempt on his life and property by his white neighbours. The racism he experienced became tucked under carpet by Bromford Housing Association

Eventually after years of hell and endurance; he was only free from this nightmare hell because his neighbour was put into prison for nearly four years after trying to set fire to his flat. Kevin contacted the black 'Voice' newspaper who ran an article. now Bromford Housing Association had nothing to lose! how dare he contact the voice newspaper exposing this racist institution?

Kevin Watson thought his nightmare was over; but it was only just beginning! Bromford had moved racist neighbours who would continue this reign of terror; but only this time; slowly torturing Kevin to the point of hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide!

In the end what could only be described as provocative and racially motivated; Bromford created situations where they conspired with Kevin’s racist neighbours in which to drive him finally out of his home! In the end Kevin sandwiched between Bromford refusal to deal with the racist abuse, and threats from his white neighbours; while denial from the Staffordshire police trying to deal with the case; Kevin would end up running from his home for his dear life away from his neighbours who were using killer dogs as weapons!

His mental health rapidly declined as a result of institutional racism and its’ failure in which to want to tackled it. Once Kevin left his home he thought that the curse of Bromford was left behind not realising that Bromford wanted to destroy him even if it meant lying or even breaking the law! They wanted him silenced, and would stoop to any level to see that even if it meant lying and fabrication and even falsifying police records!
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5.0 out of 5 stars a Frank history of humanity, 25 April 2014
I decided to read the book before seeing the movie, as most books treated to the Hollywood hype stray too far away from the heart of the story, yet it was the hype of this movie that drew me to read the book! I found Soloman Northrop's story compelling, particularly his honesty, his dignity, and his frankness as he tells his story. Despite his free life at the beginning of his tale, as the story unfolds the cruelty and total disregard for Soloman as a human being is horrifying, and slowly becomes disturbing as it begins to dawn on him, and the reader that he has no choice but to accept the 'white man' as his master. The social deprivation of an African American in 1841 is made brutally obvious, especially when once free again he tries to bring his kidnappers to justice and fails, purely because the white man even in Soloman's freedom is still superior, socially, morally and intellectually. The deep South is in your face shouting out the obvious, that culture doesn't hide the racist bias, but then to find it equally in the North, but hidden in between the hypocrisy of the then so called democratic rights of the free, represented in that courtroom, you get the feeling that Soloman's real heartbreak is realising this. I can't fault this narrative, it is a monumental social documentary of a time in the US that should never be forgotten. It is difficult to read, the immense cruelty and indifference to human suffering is truly shocking, but I am glad I read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mans inhumanity, 27 Mar. 2014
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A great read, this book should be read in schools
Unfortunately slavery still exists in the world.
A sad book to read about mans inhumanity to fellow man, but a book I couldn't put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really powerful and good read., 17 Feb. 2014
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I had an open mind as to how I would enjoy the book, having seen the film first. Obviously the film was dramatised and artistic license used, but the book was wonderful, I really enjoyed it. It was written in such a way that I was moved by the lack of self-pity from the author and also his way of describing events as they unfold with a minimum of words and yet stirred my imagination. I found his style of writing very pleasing even though he had a terrible story to tell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 years, 10 Feb. 2014
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Captivating read ,prefer to read a book before seeing the film just hope the film is half as good..Excellent read recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 12 years a slave, 27 Feb. 2014
This book was very good all in all and felt like a very truthful look in to life as a slave in Louisiana in the 1800s, i was a bit taken aback by the brutality these people endured in America at that time, and in some cases felt almost ashamed to not only be white but also human, only very good books can attract these types of emotions from people by reading!
Good read short and powerful, but observant and again truthful to the point where unlike most who would feel bitter towards there captors, this man (solomon northup) had great admiration for some of them and understood them as products of there own environment, rather than the whip wielding cruel slave plantation masters they where.
Its a very good reminder why discrimination to any race white, black, brown can never be allowed again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal honest and very well written!, 20 Jan. 2014
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This is just a brilliant and well written book, given the subject matter! It tells a true story of Solomon's time as a slave and a brutal account of a mans cruelty to one another! But it's very well written taking the reader along on Solomon's painful journey.
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4.0 out of 5 stars compelling reading, 6 Nov. 2013
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Northup succinctly portrayed slavery as he experienced it 'no way out'. One's liberty and freedom taken away under the most vicious and inhuman conditions. Tortured and whipped senseless but still courageously and quietly focusing on his long term goal; a freed negro returned to his family from whence he came

anyone looking for inspiration under tough and extreme conditions can learn many lessons from 'twelve years a slave': courage, fortitude, determination, resolve amidst a mire of loathsome 'humans'

I just couldn't put this one down until I had finished it
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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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