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Twelve Years a Slave | [Solomon Northup]

Twelve Years a Slave

Hugh Quarshie reads the extraordinary autobiography of Solomon Northup. His harrowing true story, first published in 1853, was a key factor in the national debate over slavery prior to the American Civil War, significantly changing public opinion on the topic of abolition. It tells the horrifying tale of Solomon Northup, an educated, free black man living with his wife and children in New York State, whose life takes an appalling turn when he is kidnapped, drugged and sold into slavery.
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Publisher's Summary

Hugh Quarshie reads the extraordinary autobiography of Solomon Northup. His harrowing true story, first published in 1853, was a key factor in the national debate over slavery prior to the American Civil War, significantly changing public opinion on the topic of abolition. It tells the horrifying tale of Solomon Northup, an educated, free black man living with his wife and children in New York State, whose life takes an appalling turn when he is kidnapped, drugged and sold into slavery.

Shipped to New Orleans, he endures the life of a slave in Louisiana's isolated plantation country. For twelve long years, he endures the unimaginable brutality and inhumanity of daily life, while keeping his dignity intact and dreaming of one day returning home to the arms of his family.

Twelve Years a Slave is soon to be a major motion picture, starring Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.

©2013 AudioGO Ltd (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd

What the Critics Say

  • 10 Best Audiobooks of 2013 (Salon)
  • "The resurgent interest in '12 Years a Slave' has everything to do with Steve McQueen's masterful film adaptation, but the book has more to offer than the movie, and the Ghanian-British stage actor Hugh Quarshie's conversational delivery stands out among a slew of newly released competing audiobook adaptations." (Kyle Minor, Salon)

    "A moving, vital testament to one of slavery s many thousands gone who retained his humanity in the bowels of degradation. It is also a chilling insight into the peculiar institution.” (Saturday Review Online)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (105 )
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4.5 (101 )
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4.6 (100 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 01-23-14
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2007

    Joel Szerlip

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What an Experience"

    In mid-2013 I first saw the trailer for the movie Twelve Years a Slave and knew right away I wanted to see it. I've got to be honest I'd never heard of Solomon Northup nor his story. What I appreciated most about reading Twelve Years a Slave was it was the most honest telling of that time period I've ever read. The descriptions that Solomon had on being a slave, his masters, and his fellow slaves made you feel like you were back in the mid-1800's in the South,

    What can I possibly say that hasn't already been said before. To me Twelve Years a Slave should be required reading for all students in America. It shows slavery through the eyes of a slave not something we have many first hand accounts of. I'm so glad I read Twelve Years a Slave and cannot wait to see the movie.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caro Miami 12-01-13
    Caro Miami 12-01-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hugh Quarshie performance -- strongly recommended"

    After seeing the movie, I wanted to read or hear the book and had to decide which of several versions to go with. So glad I selected the Hugh Quarshie audible.com performance. I can't imagine a better reading. It felt as though I was hearing it straight from Soloman Nothrup, including some of the pronunciation nuances.

    Believing this understanding should be part of every American's education, I have read a number of very enlightening slave narratives/histories. I do agree with another reviewer who said that Northrup's story, because it is told from the perspective of a free as well as enslaved man, is special and builds a helpful bridge that a 21st century free person can relate to. Normally I wouldn't say this, but I do recommend seeing the movie before reading the book. In this particular case, it enhanced my ability to "see" what was happening.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy Millet, Alberta, Canada 02-10-14
    Tammy Millet, Alberta, Canada 02-10-14 Member Since 2005

    Wife, mom of one amazing son, and I have the second best job in the world, working in a bookstore :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The best but hardest story to listen to"
    Where does Twelve Years a Slave rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's definitely in my top 10.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that this story is in Solomon's own words


    Have you listened to any of Hugh Quarshie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't but he was amazing. The perfect voice


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

    Yes. I had to know what happened and I basically did listen in one sitting. Thank goodness for 2x speed.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. E. Cole Oregon 07-14-14
    P. E. Cole Oregon 07-14-14 Member Since 2008

    audiobook devotee

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
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    "SAD, SAD, SAD!"
    Where does Twelve Years a Slave rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a moving, gut-wrenching story. I absolutely cannot believe that one human could treat another as they did in this story! And in the name of a God, who is love! They must be in the darkest part of Hell today!


    Would you ever listen to anything by Solomon Northup again?

    Yes, definitely.


    What does Hugh Quarshie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Easy to listen, too. Amazed that he can read the story without choking.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy 06-07-14
    Timothy 06-07-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    12
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "It Will Make You Cringe"
    Which scene was your favorite?

    I really enjoyed the description of the Christmas feast.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is a tremendous recounting that provides gruesome insight into the details of the tragedy of slave life. Anyone with a conscience should read this to remind them how terrible humankind can be when we fail to do what is clearly right.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher United States 02-13-14
    Christopher United States 02-13-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "One of the best..."
    What made the experience of listening to Twelve Years a Slave the most enjoyable?

    Absolutely a compelling and gripping story that was also read in a manner that only reinforced the power of the narrative. Highly recommended!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Venetia
    St Cirgues la Loutre, France
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is a book for the school curriculum"
    Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

    Absolutely. This book was touching, poignant, frightening and enlightening. Solomon Northrup was a courageous man and this is a story of hope and triumph. I loved listening to it and it was beautifully narrated.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learnt a great deal about the slave era. I have read many fictional books on this subject and we all know the stories, but, this memoir was much more raw and authentic. I loved the character of Solomon Northrup and his factual, and understated emotional account was powerful and informative. It is an unforgettable story.


    Have you listened to any of Hugh Quarshie’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to this narrator before but I have to congratulate him on this performance. He read the story with exactly the right amount of emotion and at exactly the right tempo. I would love to hear him read again.


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

    I found the book very emotional, although I did not laugh or cry. I think my over-riding emotion was shame. I am white. The slave owners were white. I am ashamed that any person from my race could ever have been so cruel.


    Any additional comments?

    An excellent book that I will never forget.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • BillyBlackBear
    South Wales
    3/21/14
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    Story
    "True Character"

    I almost didn't listen to this book as the language used takes a little getting used to but I am so glad that I did persevere! This is a beautiful story, brutal in many places but it never fails to show true human character in all it's glory and horror.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Shaza
    West Sussex, UK
    5/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing"
    Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

    I would definitely listen to this book again I actually plan to by the book in paper form and keep it to pass down to my grandchildren and hopefully it will be passed down to further generation.


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

    The moment Solomon out run the dogs to get to his former master, and the moment he was found by his rescuer.


    Which character – as performed by Hugh Quarshie – was your favourite?

    Solomon Northup's character.


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

    There were some moments that made me smile, but mostly this was a sad read that made me want to cry from time to time.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Senath
    4/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Human injustices"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, especially to anyone who claims to be too busy to take time to read the book.


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

    I have not read one that I would compare it too.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    When he finally regains his freedom.


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

    Yes the inhuman treatment of a fellow human being.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • MRS
    HARLECH, United Kingdom
    3/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant, heartbreaking and very informative"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    A strong performance by Hugh Quarshie dealing with a heartbreaking story with depth and strength.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    I found out a lot more through this book about slavery than from many other sources previously and although very traumatic is is a story that I believe everyone should read/hear as a reminder of just how cruel mankind can be and yet the courage and bravery of people to overcome.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    The book is full of real facts and personal experience that will me to keep listening in the hope that justice would eventually prevail.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    nothing!!!!


    Do you have any additional comments?

    A brilliant listen which only includes what it need to offer a frank and true expression of one mans incredible bravery and enduring hope…..

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sigrin
    Valdisere, France
    7/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The resilience and strength of a man."

    Hugh Quarshie, was an excellent narrator. I found I grew quite fond of Solomon through the book as he was a very strong character, and just kept going through all the pains as he knew he was a free man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    tipperaryIreland
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Must read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If there is one book you listen to this has to be it. From start to finish I was hooked, the tone of the narration was pleasant and the story unfolded at a reasonable pace.
    My children and me learnt a valuable historical lesson from first hand account, many years ago we covered the slave trade as art of the school history syllabus, I really wish this had been included.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This story is the truth told by an educated hard working man who was lucky to survive to tell of his awful ordeal


    Which character – as performed by Hugh Quarshie – was your favourite?

    The main character Solomon Northup resilience is inspiring. It provided a rare insight into the plight many still suffer today


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

    This was very difficult to stop listening, a very addictive read


    Any additional comments?

    This would be suitable for adults and teenagers alike. It truly made me think twice how lucky we are

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Longtown, United Kingdom
    6/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "mixed feelings about this"

    I have mixed feelings about this book. Like most people, I am appalled by the trading of fellow human beings for slavery and profit and all of the degrading treatment meted out to slaves by their 'masters'. I haven't yet seen the film and generally prefer the book as I am a visual imaginative person and find myself in the character's position. Unfortunately this was not the case in this book, I just couldn't connect with it. I don't know whether it is my abhorrence around slavery that stopped me from connecting or the style of writing. It felt too much like a clinical diary rather than a lived experience and I could not feel the wretchedness that Solomon must have experienced. The only 2 parts that moved me was the whipping of Patsy which rid her of her sparkle and personality and the slaves forced to make merriment at Christmas after grafting all day in the plantations. I feel bad about this and in no way want to take away from Solomon's story. I don't know whether the film is better or has been sanitised for public consumption. I will watch it and see if it is one of the very rare occasions where the film is better than the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jeanette Old
    England
    6/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "12 Years a Slave"
    If you could sum up Twelve Years a Slave in three words, what would they be?

    Well Worth it


    Any additional comments?

    Definitely recommend listening to before watching the film, as lots missed on the screen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Adaeze
    5/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reader read with feeling! Make me cry"
    What did you like most about Twelve Years a Slave?

    What is there to like? What is there not to like?
    Sad, but very eye opening. I cried a lot especially when slavery tears families apart like Eliza's.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Utterly brutal narrative.


    Which character – as performed by Hugh Quarshie – was your favourite?

    I like the way he read and acted the characters. Hugh would change his voice and drawl to match the character, made me feel i could see and hear the characters.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Struck down, but not destroyed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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