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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2014
This is a must-read. It is dated, obviously, but it's still a riveting story with eye-opening detail about the atrocities of US slavery. This gives the lie to Uncle Tom and the 'happy workers' myth put out by those who try to brush the whole thing under the carpet. Essential reading for any complacent Daily Mail reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2013
Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave is a well-written and a deep and moving story not only of man's depravity in his treatment of others, but also of the inner strength we all have and means we can harness to get out of different predicaments without dehumanizing ourselves in the process. Like the story of Josef in Disciples of Fortune, Solomon Northrup's book gives an amazing of Solomon's trials and tribulations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2014
Read this book before you watch the movie... Amazingly readable considering it was written so long ago. Left me yet again questioning, how could humans treat other humans in such a deplorable, degrading and sickening way?We should all read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2015
The book has had a new lease of life as a result of the Oscar winning film, which I waited to watch until I had finished the book and which very much captures the flavour of this extraordinary memoir. Northup was a free man living in New York. On a trip to Washington he was kidnapped and sold into slavery, ending up at a cotton plantation in the South, by then it has been beaten into him that to reveal his real status would only lead to more thrashing and probable death. He cannot even reveal he can read and write. As a slave it’s relentless work, cruel treatments and thrashings for the next twelve years. I was willing on his plan for escape and bitterly sorry for those left on the Epps plantation. He very effectively conveys the futility of the slave existence and the terror that lived inside them all, knowing each day could be their last. There’s occasional deviations outlining how cotton is produced, how sugar is harvested, which is actually quite fascinating and makes his memoir of interest as a historical document as well as a dramatic story. I am ashamed that I did not know of this book before as I have read much Afro-American writing. Thankfully, the film has brought the book back into prominence and Northup’s words can take their place in the canon of great American writing.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 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
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Thought it an excellent if harrowing story all the more so it being true.The author also showed surprising empathy toward the white mans thinking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2014
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2013
For a book written in the 1850's by a man who did not get the sort of education one does today, this book was an excellent read with a personal insight of a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The descriptions of his experiences and of those he lived with for all those years was harrowing and moving.

I understand this book is going to be made into a film. I hope it reflects the hell that human beings sold into slavery experienced and makes people think especially as the spectre of slavery has come to the fore again all over the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2013
The rather interesting true life story of Solomon Northup. Raised as a free man in a Northern state a few years before the American Civil War, he had the misfortune to be tricked into bondage and spends twelve years as a slave in the South before regaining his freedom.

Solomon provides us with his perspective and experience of the institution of slavery as well as describing many of the things he saw during his captivity. The editor's extensive background information included in the enhanced edition complements Solomon's narrative nicely.
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