Twelve Years A Slave

Northup, Solomon, 1808-1863?

(Paperback - 2000)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Twelve Years A Slave
Dover Pubns
Now a major motion picture! Kidnapped into slavery in 1841, Northup spent 12 years in captivity. This autobiographical memoir represents an exceptionally detailed and accurate description of slave life and plantation society. 7 illustrations. Index.

Now a major motion picture!
"A moving, vital testament to one of slavery's 'many thousand gone' who retained his humanity in the bowels of degradation." —Saturday Review
Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841. He spent the next 12 harrowing years of his life as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. During this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life. After regaining his freedom in 1853, Northup decided to publish this gripping autobiographical account of his captivity.
As an educated man, Northup was able to present an exceptionally detailed and accurate description of slave life and plantation society. Indeed, this book is probably the fullest, most realistic picture of the "peculiar institution" during the three decades before the Civil War. Moreover, Northup tells his story both from the viewpoint of an outsider, who had experienced 30 years of freedom and dignity in the United States before his capture, and as a slave, reduced to total bondage and submission. Very few personal accounts of American slavery were written by slaves with a similar history.
Published in 1853, Northup's book found a ready audience and almost immediately became a bestseller. Aside from its vivid depiction of the detention, transportation, and sale of slaves,Twelve Years a Slave is admired for its classic accounts of cotton and sugar production, its uncannily precise recall of people, times, and places, and the compelling details that re-create the daily routine of slaves in the Gulf South. 7 illustrations. Index.

Book News
Born a free man in New York in 1808, Solomon Northrup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. After regaining his freedom in 1853, he published this gripping autobiographical account of his captivity. As an educated man, he was able to present a detailed and accurate picture of slave life and plantation society, from simultaneous outsider and insider perspectives. This is an unabridged Dover republication of the work first reprinted by Dover Publications, New York, in 1970. The original edition was published by Derby and Miller, Auburn, New York, 1853. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Mineola, N.Y. : Dover Publications, 2000, c1970
ISBN: 0486411435
Branch Call Number: B Northup
Characteristics: ix, 336 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 04, 2015
  • mary498 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Man's inhumanity to man will never cease to amaze, astound and sicken me. Having said that, an amazing account of one man's resilience, unending hope and faith in God during our country's darkest days.

With all the hoopla surrounding the movie, I figured I’d better at least gain some idea of Solomon’s story. Being an inveterate nerd, I reached for the book instead. Now that I’ve read it, I don’t think I’m going to watch the film. My imagination painted Solomon’s story in all-too-vivid detail while I read and I have no need to revisit some of the more graphic scenes.

If you're on the lengthy wait list for this eBook, wait no longer. It is freely available online. One site is the University of North Carolina, which is a text version. Another is archive dot org, which has a scan of the original book. The wonders of the internet.

This is a fascinating read. Don't miss it.

Jan 10, 2014
  • kigersthree rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I borrowed the ebook, not the book ( http://download.maineinfonet.org/A5348EB6-AE77-46AD-B06B-B41C4612A528/10/50/en/ContentDetails.htm?id=093D88D1-507F-4C98-87FC-D3D39C414E38 ), Not sure why the ebook doesn't show up in search ....

Anyway! the text of Twelve Years is incredible. The preface by Gates, and the intro by Berlin are both interesting. But if you have the chance, read Dr. Sue Eakin's edition. Besides the complete text of Twelve Years, Dr. Eakin also includes over 100 pages of additional material, including what happened after the book ended, maps, photos, etc.

Dec 20, 2013
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I thought this was an amazing book about a true life situation that was written by someone with the education to describe his experiences objectively.

Dec 09, 2013
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The extraordinary true story that was the inspiration for the best film of the year. Gives a harrowing account of the daily life of slaves. Also see Frederick Douglass's and Olaudah Equiano's narratives.

Nov 18, 2012
  • JoCoAcadian rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Solomon, the author, was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He was educated and had an amazing memory that enabled him to remember names, places, and descriptions for twelve years. Details that he wrote about are corroborated with official documentation and other evidence. That is significant because it means the book can be used as an historical document.

He was sold a few times, so that enabled him to write about the differences in how slave owners treated their slaves. Slave life wasn't all toiling in the fields and working on the plantations even when working for his most severe owner. There was some free time and some enjoyable times. Different owners gave different amounts of days off for Christmas. Certainly that's nowhere near the same as being able to determine your own working and personal time periods, but maybe their time wasn't quite as dictated as it is generally understood to have been. He also had some skills that plantation owners desired so that gave him some advantages. Of course it was absolutely not fun and games. Some owners whipped their slaves and sometimes even made slaves whip other slaves.

His rescue was close to not happening. I was surprised but it seemed to be that no one was told his slave name, so they got kind of lucky to have found him.

It is a small book - only about 250 pages. He wanted to present the description of slavery in a non-biased way, and he does a very good job of it, but there were times when I wanted more description so I could get a better sense of having to live like that and be able to feel more empathy with him. But it is an incredible recounting of his life during those years, and it is a significant documentary of that period in U.S. history.


Add a Summary

Jan 04, 2015
  • mary498 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An amazing account of a "free" black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Solomon was educated and after his eventual rescue, was able to write about his twelve years in captivity. Excellent narrative and true to the language and events of the time period.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Other Formats

Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

Twelve Years A Slave
Northup, Solomon, 1808-1863?
Twelve Years A Slave

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings



Powered by BiblioCommons.
app10 Version jokkmokk2 Last updated 2015/01/29 17:28