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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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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Sarah austin, TX, United States 04-18-14
    Sarah austin, TX, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Essential, but Difficult"
    Any additional comments?

    Another book gone Hollywood. At this point, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I guarantee, the book says so much more. This powerful autobiographical look at slavery from the inside out, and considered to be the best insight into that life, by many, was a difficult read/listen. The most obvious reason for my difficulty was the subject matter and the frank depiction of real people, real places and real occurrences. Horrific. Brutal. Inhumane. Unthinkable. My list could go on and on. Like the Holocaust, I just can’t wrap my head around slavery. And, knowing it still exists on this planet sickens me. First published in 1853, this book, written by the Solomon Northup, was obviously written in the language of its time. The sentences were quite formal, making the listening a bit more challenging. However, the story will grab you by the throat and squeeze. Difficult, but well worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richelle Sparta, MI, United States 04-18-14
    Richelle Sparta, MI, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2013

    Nellie

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    "The Movie was better than the book"

    This is a pretty horrifying tale but I did like the Movie much better. The narrator was OK.
    Just personal preference I think you may think otherwise. It is hard to believe such atrocities went on back then.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tenesha Ocala, FL, United States 04-03-14
    Tenesha Ocala, FL, United States 04-03-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Brutality...."

    The brutality depicted in this book was unspeakable, so much so that I do not think I would ever be able to watch the movie. It was a very sad account of Solomon Northrup's life to be born free, educated, and then kidnapped and sold into bondage for 12 years. As sad as it was, I could not help but to smile when he received his freedom once again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Torrance, CA, United States 04-02-14
    Steven Torrance, CA, United States 04-02-14
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    "Outstanding"

    I thought I'd give the book a try, since I had already decided to not see the movie.
    I'd rather hear exactly what the author had to say.
    This book is very well written by an extraordinarily perceptive individual.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Joplin, Missouri 03-13-14
    Andy Joplin, Missouri 03-13-14 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Very Sad Tale"
    What made the experience of listening to Twelve Years a Slave the most enjoyable?

    The writing. It was very interesting to hear a first hand account of slavery.


    What other book might you compare Twelve Years a Slave to and why?

    I do not think there is a comparison, this is a very unique story.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr.?

    I would, but he was kind of hard to understand at times.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Not One of the United Stat's Proudest Moments.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra LI New York 03-12-14
    Sandra LI New York 03-12-14 Member Since 2013

    Bookworm

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    "TWELVE YEARS BRAIN WASHED"

    I happen to admire Lou Gossett as an actor. But, it has always been my opinion that only PROFESSIONAL narrators should be used for audiobooks. Mr. Gossett is a perfect example of lacking the ability to tell the story without it seeming to be a lecture. (Each sentence begins and ends with the same reflections.) Had I listened to this book first, I would never have seen the movie. (It was much better.) Sadly, this being a true story, I found it very disappointing that the main character, thriough the years of slavery, seemed to mellow and rarely showed his desire to flee or rebel against his inhuman condition. To witness such cruelty and yet, even when he was about to be freed; he says good-bye to his, 'masters.' Clearly, all of his pride and sense of honor had been beaten out of him. Worst, were his discriptions of the 'good masters,' who once a year gave a Christmas celebration for the slaves. Where in his life could a relatively intelligent young man, find any justification for one race holding another race in human bondage, allowing one race to become rich through the toil, sweat and sorrow of people working for scraps and treated worst than animals? That question was only asked by the white man who succeeded in helping him to return to a family who had not seen him for twelve years. He did express his frustration; but never the anger he should have felt.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ladonna E. Remmers Beatrice, Nebraska 03-09-14
    Ladonna E. Remmers Beatrice, Nebraska 03-09-14 Member Since 2013

    ldreader

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    "Very Disappointed!"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The only thing that keep me listening was the excellent narration. I found value in the story line for history but was bored at the same time.


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

    The most entertaining part of the book!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanie 02-24-14
    Jeanie 02-24-14

    Truelongmont on Facebook. I like listening while exercising and cleaning. I just want entertainment!

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    "Not for me"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Louis Gossett, Jr.’s performances?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I found the accent/acting distracting. I found it hard to follow. I've not seen the movie and had no expectations. . just couldn't get into it. Not gripping for moi.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stuart Jenner Auckland, New Zealand 02-06-14
    Stuart Jenner Auckland, New Zealand 02-06-14 Member Since 2014

    Stu

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Totally Spellbound."
    If you could sum up Twelve Years a Slave in three words, what would they be?

    Engrossing, Heart-wrenching, Inspiring


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

    Obviously the conclusion stands out though the realisation of what was in store for Solomon when he was first in the slave pen in is hard to forget.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Because of the brutish, violent nature of this narrative it is hard to describe a scene as " favourite" but it is hard to surpass Solomon being forced to beat a fellow slave as a scene that will linger.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Whilst uplifting at times, this is a violent tale that captures the brutality faced by many slaves, both male and female, of the that era. I found it difficult to continue with often but impossible to stop.


    Any additional comments?

    Louis Gossett Jr's narration was superb both capturing the horror faced and the compassion shown by Solomon. If you have any interest at all in civil rights you will want to have this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dan 01-14-14
    dan 01-14-14
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    "I must corrrect Audible"

    I am about half way through Twelve Years a Slave and am thoroughly enjoying the book. It is well written and masterfully performed. However, on Audible.com's main page today (01/14/2014) it is stated that Chiwetel Ejiofor won the Golden Globe award for best actor in a drama for his role in the movie adaptation of this book. That is not true. Matthew McConaughey won the award for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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