- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 Nov. 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00GJVS9X4
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Twelve Years a Slave Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
I've put off reading this for several months, knowing the content from the Oscar-winning film. Actually, it wasn't as hard to read as I'd feared, but scenes will linger for me.
I've read The Long Song, Chains, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Beloved. Solomon made it more real for me, the husband and father doing what he can to get home.
His writing style is very much of the period, which I don't have issues with, though some descriptions of farming procedures held little interest in the context of the book for me.
Some of the more shocking scenes were actually those in which slaves are 'granted' three days holiday for Christmas, treated to sumptuous meals and dances by their usually whip-wielding 'masters'. The enjoyment and laughter resulting had me in floods of angry tears.
Solomon wisely state facts and leaves opinion to us his readers. The actions of the participants speak for themselves. Bass I would want awarding medals. To stand out against public opinion and speak as he did - commendable.
It's a book that by rights should be reqiired reading by every secondary school student in the UK and USA. More than textbooks, films, question sheets, students will be forcsped to think about what nations did in their past, what happens when greed trumps humanity.
Not a book you will enjoy but one you won't regret letting into your conscience.
The other level is that it's a true story.
In places it's not at all an easy book to read. Not because of the writing, which is straight forward and remarkably detached - Northrup wrote just to tell his story and let it speak for itself - but because of the things and the events it describes.
If you've seen the film but not read the book be warned that the film does not come close to depicting the violence in the book. The film had to look away; Northrup couldn't.
Northup's story is very powerful on the barbaric and brutal levels of violence, on the senseless hate, the screaming injustice, and the sheer stupidity of slavery and on the way a slave-owning society above all brutalises itself.
That perhaps is the most horrifying aspect - that an entire society, with a few brave exceptions, thought all this was perfectly Christian and reasonable.
How can a book like this have disappeared from bookshelves? I am thankful to the film for bringing this story back from obscurity. Twelve Years a Slave conveys the brutality of African-american slavery in a graphic style – the horrors that Solomon has to put up with are unbearable. Yet in an archaic fashion, despite the horrors, Solomon expresses hope and a longing to see his family. All the while expressed through a neutral tone with no hint of bias or bitterness.
Twelve Years a Slave is as hard-hitting and memorising as The Dairy of Anne Frank – a story which needs to be read.
Although Northrup told his story to a ghostwriter following his release from slavery, the writing does feel authentic and spirited. What I loved about the book - and Northrup himself - was that he never stops giving up hope of regaining his freedom. Even when he has spent years under the whip and can plainly see the futility of his situation, he is ever vigilant for means of escape. His wit, bravery and love for his family ensure his survival, and the reader will be rooting for him throughout. As a huge wake up call to the slavers and anti-abolitionists, this account of an intelligent man trapped in unremitting drudgery and treated worse than an animal was surely a sign that their superiority beliefs were completely unfounded.
The other outstanding quality of this book is the balanced portrayal of Northrup's bondage. There is violence, horrific in places, but it is never gratuitous. There is humiliation and hard work, and Northrup is open about the way his fellow slaves were treated as well, but it never feels like he is asking for us to pity them. Northrup is even able, on occasions, to describe moments of peace and reminders of the man he is. The fact that he was allowed to keep his violin and escape for a while in his passion for music must have been a godsend to him. He himself admits that it was sometimes the only thing that kept him going.
Even if this had been written as fiction, it would be well worth a read. Unlike the aforementioned Uncle Tom's Cabin, which muddied its narrative with superfluous passages, characters and situations, Northrup's tale flows easily and never deviates from its central message. It is obviously not something you can really call enjoyable, due to the content, but it is certainly engaging.
For those who have seen the film and may have been left a bit confused by some scenes, the book will answer every question. Be warned though, the violent scenes depicted in the book are actually far worse than what you will have seen on screen. They are necessary to show us just how easily and badly ultimate power can be abused, but they don't make for comfortable reading.
The feeling I was finally left with when the book reached its conclusion was one of awe and inspiration. Northrup was an amazing man, held back only by the colour of his skin. Who knows what he might have achieved in another time?
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