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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)2014 Audible, Inc.

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 (174 )
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4.6 (161 )
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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 2011

    Joel Szerlip

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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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caro 12-01-13
    Caro 12-01-13
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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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diva Bryant 02-18-15
    Diva Bryant 02-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent"

    Better than the movie!!! Excellent ❤️this book should be added to the high school preferred reading list. Love this book

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar Ali 12-31-14
    Omar Ali 12-31-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Required reading"

    This book reads like a novel. The events depicted are raw and emotional. Just an inspiring effort written with con conviction. Maybe in the next life I can thank Solomon for this gift.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. E. Cole Oregon 07-14-14
    P. E. Cole Oregon 07-14-14 Member Since 2014

    audiobook devotee

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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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy 06-07-14
    Timothy 06-07-14 Member Since 2013
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy 02-10-14
    Tammy 02-10-14

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

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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
  •  
    Dianne M. Nida 02-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Unbelievable!"

    As a native of Alexandria, LA, this narrative was of great interest to me. It showed vividly the evils of slavery in a way I have never read. Though emotionally difficult to listen to, I think it has given me a better understanding of that period of history. A must read for those who love the truth!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris alameda, ca 12-16-14
    Chris alameda, ca 12-16-14 Member Since 2004
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    "I can't find the words. Read it."

    This was an incredible listen, one of the best audiobooks I've heard.While I had some slight idea of what U.S. slavery involved, this brought it home more than anything else I've heard. Every time I listened, I came away feeling as if I'd seen a new light shined on human nature as well as on our history. Hearing of humanity's capacity for casual and unthinking cruelty left me thinking about how I live my life, how aware or unaware I am of the suffering of others, and how able or unable I am to look beyond what seems good enough. I also learned of how a human's spirit can be utterly destroyed by unremitting cruelty.

    The author spoke with striking insight and eloquence about what he saw and experienced. I was especially struck by his observations that most of the people involved had a mixture of good and bad in them. He had high praise for one of his owners, who he considered one of the finest people he'd known aside from the single blind spot that he thought that whites should own blacks, because he'd never known anything else and couldn't see beyond it. And I thought again about John Brown's predictions around the same time that slaveholders would not reform without a bloody war, which was soon in coming.

    The narrator was as outstanding as the material, completely owning the material. I can't say enough about this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Christopher United States 02-13-14
    Christopher United States 02-13-14 Member Since 2013
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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: 1-10 of 10 results
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  • BillyBlackBear
    South Wales
    3/21/14
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    "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
  • Venetia
    St Cirgues la Loutre, France
    12/13/13
    Overall
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    "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 13 people found this review helpful
  • Shaza
    West Sussex, UK
    5/6/14
    Overall
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    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
  • mrs wendy watson
    4/29/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    This book is well narrated, it's a brilliant book, I enjoyed a lot, but be warned does have very emotional and heartbreaking at times. By Wendy

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Reb
    United Kingdom
    4/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting"

    Very nice tone and pace to the reading this made the rich language even more enjoyable to hear than it would have been had I read the book. I had seen the film and wanted to learn more which I am not sure I did but felt I should listen to the wider story. Interesting but not quite as good as I had hoped.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MR
    Tobermory, Isle Of Mull, United Kingdom
    2/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A truly harrowing insight"

    A truly harrowing insight but a must read/listen.
    Written in beautiful language and skilful turn of phrase. Narration read with heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • maria
    Hull, United Kingdom
    1/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unbelievably absorbing"

    On beginning this audio book, I was unable to think of anything other than getting back to it. Solomon Northup's story is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming in the knowledge that he was saved after 12 terrible years being degraded by unscrupulous white slavers. His fortunate meeting with Bass leads him back to his rightful place. The overriding sadness Is for all the many black people that were held in captivity and the injustice felt will stay with the reader. This is truly a masterpiece of immeasurable importance.

    0 of 0 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
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