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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.

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

Critic Reviews

“...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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Great read - reluctant to see the movie.

Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

Yes - definitely. Great combination of a historical account and a compelling story.

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

Several parts stick out for me. One of my favorite parts is the account of his kidnapping and imprisonment. The story drew me in and took me on the journey from surprise, through acceptance and all the other emotions that he experienced.

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

I lost myself in his performance. I had the opportunity to listen on a long road trip that seemed to end too soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Melinda
  • Shoreline, WA, United States
  • 12-12-13

A story for the ages

I saw the INCREDIBLE film… and I knew I had to read this book. It is lovingly narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr. (I met him one time!) and the story is just as gripping and moving and horrible/wonderful as the film. AND! If you loved the book, do not be afraid to see the film… it is a VERY faithful re-creation of the book. It is an AMAZING story of loss, anger, submission, living on nothing but wits, endurance and redemption. It's a book to be experienced. It's a "must-read".

It deserves a place on your shelf or in your Audible library right along with The Known World by Edward P Jones and Beloved by the incomparable Toni Morrison. It's WAY better than Uncle Tom's Cabin and much better than The Confessions of Nat Turner….

Get it! Listen to it! Love Soloman Northup! You will not regret reading this memoir.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • LARKSPUR, CO, United States
  • 10-27-13

A Listen of All Times

What made the experience of listening to Twelve Years a Slave the most enjoyable?

First is that such an incredible story is true and autobiographical. Yes, it is tragic, but the author intermingled the sweet with the bitter, so that the sweet became "comic relief" to the bitter and gave hope, although for some of Solomon Northrup's fellow kidnapping victims, hope came in relief after a too short life. His talent with the violin was part of that relief on the light side. The versatility and cleverness of Solomon, but also his refusal to suffer extraordinary abuse, along with his resourcefulness, added continuous interest to his story. The story is so well told and read...I often "rewound" and would re-listen to parts. I can hardly wait to see the 4-star movie version.

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

Possibly The Island Beneath the Sea, but that one is a number of individual stories along with one of the masses and is fiction.

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

Of course Solomon.

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

A slave beyond slavery...

Any additional comments?

Listen to it, if you haven't! I read about what is supposably happened to him after he was freed. His talents continued with his doing public speaking and he bought a property, but he became reckless and ambitious, and lost his property and wealth. It is conjectured that he may have gone in quest of the gold in the gold rush to the west. He was obviously never the same man as before being kidnapped.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Val
  • Jackson, MS
  • 10-09-13

Awesome book.

What did you love best about Twelve Years a Slave?

The whole thing was great. I'm so happy he lived to tell his story.

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

There were parts that made me teary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • Norwalk, CA, United States
  • 09-22-13

This is an amazing story...

This story is nothing short of amazing. This book took me into the hardships and everyday life of freeborn man who was kidnapped in the the horrible world of slavery. The book was not written with hate. It was written as an account of an individuals personal experience.

I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 6 people found this review helpful

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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 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Julie
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 10-11-13

Excellent book, well read

This is an excellent, first-hand account of slavery in the American south written by a man who was kidnapped from his home in New York State and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Solomon Northup's story is a heartrending story of a man's patient fight for survival and freedom. Even his fair portrayal of 2 kind masters cannot balance the years he suffers in unrelenting, back-breaking labor, the unfathomable cruelty and unbelievable brutality of several of his masters, and his constant deep longing for freedom and his family. Louis Gossett, Jr.'s narration is as expert as you would expect. It is not a "performance" read, which I think works well with a first-person point of view.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • ELSA
  • LAREDO, TEXAS, United States
  • 10-10-13

BEAUTIFUL

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

I loved this story... it was reminicient of Federick Douglass. The story is very well read, Gossett is great! I can hardly wait to see the movie. A TERRIFIC LISTEN!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Solomon is my favorite character because when he was in charge of the slaves he found his way around the beatings.

What does Louis Gossett, Jr. bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His tone of voice makes everything come to life.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Denyse
  • Hopewell, NJ, United States
  • 09-05-13

Imagine Being Free And Then Not in 1830s America

Would you listen to Twelve Years a Slave again? Why?

I was fascinated by the evolving account of everything that transpired from kidnap into slavery to return to freedom, family and life. The reader takes the journey and endures the cruelty and despair. The day to day life of a slave is not one of sloth. It's one of industry and life preseverance. Louis Gosset, Jr's narration made it hard to put the book down.Highly, well-developed descriptive writing /oral history skill.<br/><br/>I will certainly listen and read this book again and will recommend it highly to others.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Solomon Northrop -- he was inventive, courageous, and acted with considerable integrity and grace. He delivered his promise to be candid and only relate what he personally witnessed and experienced.

Which scene was your favorite?

Bass listening to Solomon's / Platt's story -- signalled the end of Solomon's suffering was near.

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

First-hand Account of a Free Black Man's Kidnap and Journey Back From Slavery

Any additional comments?

The stories of the other slaves were equally interesting and touching. The Afterword describing Sue Ekin's historian's fascination with what was an out-of-print jewel, was important to include. I have ordered the print book for my library.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful