Twelve Years a Slave



This unforgettable memoir was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film "12 Years a Slave". This is the true story of Solomon Northup, who was born and raised as a freeman in New York. He lived the American dream, with a house and a loving family - a wife and two kids. Then one day he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the deep south. These are the true accounts of his twelve hard years as a slave - many believe this memoir is even more graphic and disturbing than the film. His extraordinary journey proves the resiliency of hope and the human spirit despite the most grueling and formidable of circumstances. (summary and book cover courtesy of


“12 Years a Slave” was an interesting book I would recommend everyone to read.  There was a very conscious effort to avoid exaggeration, hyperbole or judgment and document the facts.  This has the effect of the writer appearing very honest and resonating with the reader, but is also what also had me demote the book a star because it can also be a bit dull.

That being admitted, read in the modern context, we have to understand that the factual writing style protected Northup.  In 1853 when the book was published, slavery/racism was very much present in the US and his approach protected against accusations of slander.  

When being written, the goal wasn't to create propaganda.  The purpose was to provide an accurate description to one individual’s experiences and leave the judgment to the reader.

Historically, this is an important book as the matter of fact presentation encouraged many people to take abolitionist action preceding the Civil War.  I would highly recommend taking the time to read the book.

Rating: 3 stars! 

Who Should Read It? Everyone interested in a unique historically accurate perspective of slavery preceding the Civil War.