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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.

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

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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!

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michael
  • 08-11-17

Amazing reading

I was extremely impressed with this audiobook. The quality of the reading is great, as is the shocking story.

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  • Baz94
  • 08-02-17

Gripping and eye opening

Quarshie delivers nothing short of a perfect narrative to an amazing heart breaking story that grips you from the start and keeps you gripped right the way through. I cannot recommend this book enough. the story, the narrator... everything is 100% first class.

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  • miss tracey kench
  • 02-08-17

Poor narration

I desperately wanted to listen to this book, and still do. But found the narrator to be very monotone.
I may try another version with a different narrator.

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  • Bluelesley
  • 09-20-16

Fascinating and awful,

I found this book to be both fascinating and awful in equal measure. The fact that the 'Land of the Free' has this terrible history has always fascinated me. I know that slaves were a common occurrence in many countries but the USA slaves seem to be still at the forefront of many people. There is always the misconception in history that the 'Slaves' in the North were 'Free' but it seems to me that you are not free unless you have the same rights as the white citizens around you and i don't think for one moment that was the case. I feel that this trade was and still is a shameful part of mans history. I have so many feelings about this, i could write an essay here!! I guess we should just leave it at that.

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  • Jacqui Hastings
  • 09-01-16

A personalised story of life as a slave.

Brilliant, touching and to the point. The story telling is masterful and gives grace and dignity to this true story of a life stolen by evil evil men during an evil time in world history.

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  • Ravi
  • 06-10-16

great book

better than the film. Historic based. great adjectives. well done 8.5/10 easy to follow. I enjoyed and feel sorry for all slaves


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  • lizzie
  • 05-12-16

Wow I really enjoyed this

Where does Twelve Years a Slave rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my favourites

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

The return to his family

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

Has to be the "slave"

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

there are too many to mention

Any additional comments?

I have seen the film which is excellent but the book is even better than the film

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  • Donalea
  • 04-16-16

An amazing recount of ones life

I waited to watch the film till after I finished reading the book, and I am very pleased I did.
Northup depiction of his experience and observations a so raw, honest, reflective, ironic & funny - it made me angry, laugh and cry. But most of all it taught me about the complex practises, law & psychology of slavery which no history text book or film I've watched on the subject have been able to convey.

Performed beautifully, I will have to relisten to this narrative again.

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  • G. Rance
  • 03-12-16

Engrossing book,very moving and informative.

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

No, i rarely listen to books again as so many more to read!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Solomon Northup, who endured 12 years of hell but somehow found the strength to keep going.

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

No. I enjoyed the narration.

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

A tale of endurance.

Any additional comments?

Fantastic book, moves me to tears to listen to it.

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  • Caroline A
  • 02-02-16

Absorbing...

If this is not part of the school curriculum, it should be considered so. This audible narrative is excellent in every sense.