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Twelve Years a Slave | [Solomon Northup]

Twelve Years a Slave

In this riveting landmark autobiography, which reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York; Washington, D.C.; and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and 12 years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War.
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Publisher's Summary

Official Movie Tie-in Audiobook for the Academy Award's Best Picture and Golden Globe's Best Drama winner.

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.

In this riveting landmark autobiography which reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and twelve years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War. It validated Harriett Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had become the best-selling American book in history a few years earlier and significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition. Experience our official movie tie-in audiobook for the award-winning motion picture, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong'o. This audio edition with an accompanying custom map is based on the research of Dr. Sue Eakin, the nationally recognized authority on Solomon Northup who spent a lifetime authenticating his story.

Hard working Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color in 1841, enjoys family life with his wife and three children in Saratoga, New York. He delights his community with his fiddle playing and antic spirit, and has positive expectations of all he meets. When he is deceived by “circus promoters” to accompany them to a musical gig in the nation’s capital, his joyful life takes an unimaginable turn. He awakens in shackles to find he has been drugged, kidnapped and bound for the slave block in D.C.

After Solomon is shipped 1,000 miles to New Orleans, he is assigned his slave name and quickly learns that the mere utterance of his true origin or rights as a freeman are certain to bring severe punishment or death. While he endures the brutal life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated Bayou Boeuf plantation country, he must learn how to play the system and plot his escape home.

For 12 years, his fine mind captures the reality of slavery in stunning detail, as we learn about the characters that populate plantation society and the intrigues of the bayou – from the collapse of a slave rebellion resulting in mass hangings due to traitorous slave Lew Cheney, to the tragic abuse of his friend Patsey because of Mrs. Epps’ jealousy of her husband’s sexual exploitation of his pretty young slave.

When Solomon finally finds a sympathizing friend who risks his life to secret a letter to the North, a courageous rescue attempt ensues that could either compound Solomon’s suffering, or get him back to the arms of his family.

AUTHENTICATION: Northup’s harrowing first-hand account was authenticated from decades of research by Dr. Sue Eakin, who rediscovered the original narrative as a 12-year old in 1931 and made it her life’s work.

For additional audio clips, background info and images, see our website at www.12YearsASlaveBook.com.

Download your unique free map based on Solomon's narrative.

©2013 Eakin Films & Publishing (P)2013 Eakin Films & Publishing

What the Critics Say

“...Gossett infuses the words with a quiet, seething power." (AudioFile, 2013)

“I can never read his account of his days in slavery, of his independence of spirit, of his determination to be free…without believing that it would make a difference in today's world if our contemporaries knew of such a man as Solomon Northup." (Dr. John Hope Franklin, past president of the American Historical Association, best-selling author, recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, nation's highest civilian honor)

"[T]he extraordinary narrative of Solomon Northup is the most remarkable book that was ever issued from the American press." (Detroit Tribune, original 1853 review)
"Its truth is far greater than fiction." (Frederick Douglass, famous writer, former slave and abolitionist)
"It will be read extensively, both at the North and the South." (New York Tribune, 1853, published by Horace Greeley)

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  •  
    Neysha Grand Prairie, Texas, United States 03-13-14
    Neysha Grand Prairie, Texas, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Do not purchase this audiobook for use with kindle"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is not linked to the correct kindle edition. I have called Audio several times and they suggested that I purchase another kindle version of this same book. The kindle version that they suggest does not include the extended research. In addion when I click on the audible link for the version of the kindle book that they suggest it takes me to a different audiobook that is not narrated by Louis Gossett Jr. They refuse to fix this problem. If you intend to use this with whispersync do not purchase.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Houston, TX USA 04-09-13
    Amazon Customer Houston, TX USA 04-09-13
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    "Great story told by a great voice"
    Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

    I may go back and listen to certain parts after I see the movie.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That it was true!


    What about Louis Gossett, Jr.’s performance did you like?

    His voice of course, and his passion.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm listening to the Louis Gossett, Jr. audio book of this on my kindle because it's a super convenient way to absorb the story before the Brad Pitt movie comes out. From what I've taken in so far, it's one of those cases where truth reads like fiction, but is even more engaging because you know it's historical fact. It's clear to see why the big boys decided to make a movie from it. I think I saw where Amazon is making it's whisper sync feature available for it so that when the corresponding e-book comes out for Kindle (soon I hope) I'll be able to read when I can and listen when I can, and never lose my place. Louis Gossett, Jr. is the perfect voice for the audio book. Can't wait to see on the big screen what I'm learning about now from the original source whenever I have a few spare minutes to listen to it on my Kindle.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 07-14-13
    Prsilla 07-14-13 Member Since 2007

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

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    ""PLATT, GO GET SOME WOOD!" & FREEDOM BY LUNCHTIME"

    Beautifully written, beautifully read, an easy listen, never a dull moment, and happens to be true. This is our history (and I'm white). But first of all, click on "PDF" under the title in your library. Roll down to see the map of the neighborhood where the author was kept in slavery for ten of his twelve years before being freed.

    Louis Gossett, Jr. was a great choice to read this book. I got off to a rough start, however, and I suspect he did as well. Just turn up your volume and keep listening. It smooths out. The language is old-fashioned, very courtly, and takes a bit of getting used to. At last Gossett and the listener find their groove for an easy listen. Not easy, however, to contemplate what happened to this precious man whose slave name was Platt. I am amazed that he remembered so many names, dates and places in his journey. The book is a remarkable historical record for many reasons, telling what the slaves ate, how they earned a little extra money, what they used that money for, their efforts to feed themselves better, how both cotton and cane were cultivated, etc.

    Gossett reads with good cheer, announcing the chapter headings joyfully, and getting excited when the story is exciting, like when the dogs are chasing Platt in the swamp and he loses them because unlike most slaves, he knows how to swim. The story is told with dignity, no cheap efforts to make us cry, but . . . what a story! Northup/Platt plays the fiddle, so is in demand at nearby plantations, especially at Christmas. He tells of playing at his master's orders, the master cracking his whip over the dancing slaves, and after a bedtime well after midnight, getting them up before dawn as usual to get out to the fields to their work. He tells how the worst masters whipped their slaves on general principles -- not for any good reason. I hope very much that the film coming out makes something of Northup's description of Patsy, a beautiful and joyful young slave who could pick 500 pounds of cotton to the 200-pound average. Patsy would be an Olympic athlete or run her own dance company in these times. She was physically clever, a joy to watch, and sweet-tempered. Northup indicates tastefully that the master uses her for sex and as this makes the mistress jealous, the mistress asks repeatedly to have Patsy whipped. It's great fun for them! As some couples like to fight because the making up is so good, these slave-owners are pretty disgusting. In fact, the master orders Platt/Northup to whip Patsy on one terrible occasion. Platt must obey or be whipped badly, himself, so he tries. At last, Platt refuses to continue, so Epps, the master, picks up the whip to continue. It's the old business of someone mean wanting to break the spirit of someone possessing a bounty of life force and joy -- what some of us do to our kids. Or wives. Patsy's slave-family poured parrafin into the wounds on her back; Patsy lay face-down for weeks and was never the same again. Northup does describe specific slave-owners who are kind and fair, where an un-free life is at least tolerable. He is anxious to be believed but says this is only what he experienced around the Red River area, so the situation may be different in other parts of the country.

    I enjoyed Platt's cleverness in that he designed a trap to catch fish to supplement the slaves' wormy pork allowance. He made a curved axe handle which amazed his owner. He knew things! The book shares some of the music he heard, i.e., verses of popular songs. He describes the making of sugar. He could not google something or make a quick phone call for confirmation; he simply remembered!

    Northup tells in detail how he finally got his freedom. The book has a happy ending, except the half-grown family he left was grown up when he finally got home. There was a trial and the men who sold Northup into slavery presented a pack of lies and were acquitted. Still happening!

    Good read! Lots to think about!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LifetimeRoad Deep South 07-04-13
    LifetimeRoad Deep South 07-04-13
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    "From a central Louisiana native"
    Where does Twelve Years a Slave rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the top 3.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Twelve Years a Slave?

    Platt's flight through the swamp.


    Which character – as performed by Louis Gossett, Jr. – was your favorite?

    Platt.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The tearing away of little Emily from her mother.


    Any additional comments?

    During a Bogo sale this book piqued my interest. Then I discovered I live only 34 miles from the location of Northup's slavery! I was born in Alexandria,La. and have lived here nearly all of my life. I am familiar with the locations of all the places mentioned in the book. It's stunning to realize that the events in this book are so close geographically, and culturally to me. Even if this book weren't true, (and it is), it is still gripping and deeply moving. It made me to considering more the suffering of African Americans and the reasons why the Deep South culture is what it is today. Nevertheless, neither resentment nor prejudice comes from the pen of Northup, but only thankfulness and honesty.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claude F LeSage Greenwell Springs,, LA, US 05-01-13
    Claude F LeSage Greenwell Springs,, LA, US 05-01-13
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    "Outstanding Work Non Fiction"

    A first hand account of life as it was in that time in history. The untiring voice of Louis Gossett Jr. brings to life the words of the author.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-08-14
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-08-14 Member Since 2009

    I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.

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    "Not as good as Frederick Douglass, still good"
    Any additional comments?

    A good story of a freeman kidnapped and made into a slave. Amazing it was pretty much ignored until recently, as it was much better than Uncle Tom's Cabin.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Taylor 03-17-14
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    "Heartbreaking true story."
    What did you love best about Twelve Years a Slave?

    Mr. Northup was careful to remind his readers that he was writing only from his own experiences and not from what he had heard from others. He was an impressive gentleman.
    Mr. Gossett did a wonderful job in his narration. He made you believe that it was actually Mr. Northup telling the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy KEIZER, OR, United States 03-09-14
    Amy KEIZER, OR, United States 03-09-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A Journey You Must Take"
    Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

    I absolutely would listen to this story again. The narrative was remarkable. Louis Gossett at his finest.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Twelve Years a Slave?

    The recounting of a free-man being stolen away into captivity. It's just riveting. Everyone can imagine the emotions that must have flowed.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene is when the family is reunited.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ra G Atlanta, GA 02-18-14
    Ra G Atlanta, GA 02-18-14

    RaG

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    "Excellent"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. Louis Gossett, Jr provides an excellent speaking voice in this audio book. His voice keeps the listener wanting to hear what will happen next in the narrative.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course, Solomon. He was the focal point in the story and his plight was meant to be heard.


    What about Louis Gossett, Jr.’s performance did you like?

    Loved it!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but because of human obligations, I was forced to listen in multiple sitting, which proved to be very entertaining.


    Any additional comments?

    The story is phenomenal. I read along in the book just to be sure I did miss anything.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alysia Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-27-14
    Alysia Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2012

    Just another girl with too many books and not enough time for them all.

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    "Wonderfully Written"

    Like most book lovers I NEVER, EVER see the movie before reading the book. NEVER! Until now.
    A week before I started reading this book I went to see the movie with the ladies from my book club. This book was selected as our November book of the month. The theme of the month was "Book to Movie", so of course we had to see the movie together.
    FYI, this is not going to be a review about the movie at all.
    The story of Solomon Northup starts out giving the reader a sense of the life he lead as a born-free African American living in the North with a wife and three children. Solomon was a musician and very well respected in his community by Whites and Blacks alike. After accepting a temporary job to play with a traveling "circus" Solomon is mislead and drugged by his employers in captivity. This is were the book gets...sad...upsetting...frustrating...speechless!
    Solomon gives the readers an overview of his twelve long agonizing years as a plantation worker who's life and family mean nothing at all to his overseers and Masters. Solomon unlike many of his fellow slaves could read and write and if anyone knew it, would mean his death.
    Could you image? First being kidnapped then having your name changed? Sold into slavery with all of its brutality, hunger, and misery? Despite all of that Solomon keep a small glimmer of hope throughout it all.
    At times I had to remind myself this is non-fiction. This is the real deal 100%.
    I loved his writing style and the way the author described his environment. But there were a few places where I felt the descriptive writing was not needed. But overall it was a eye-opening read.
    I feel this book should be a must read for ALL American High School students at the junior and senior level. This a must read for everyone.

    Audiobook: 7 hours and 51 minutes
    Narrator: Louis Gossett
    Again, I have found myself reading and listening to a book to help me get through it faster. I have to say, I found myself listening more than reading on this one. The audiobook is narrated by Louis Gossett Jr. a wonderful actor and now a great narrator. He did a marvelous job. The book is written in a more formal English and as I was listening to his voice read, he made it seem like poetry at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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