12 Years a Slave: Original
August 19, 2014  /  234 pages  (is this book fiction or nonfiction?)
Twelve Years a Slave (1853) is a memoir and slave narrative by Solomon Northup, as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York, details his kidnapping in Washington, D.C. and subsequent sale into slavery.
After having been kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana by various masters, Northup was able to write to friends and family in New York, who were in turn able to secure his release. Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.
Tricked by two men offering him a job as a musician in New York State in 1841, Solomon Northup was drugged and kidnapped. His life in jeopardy, he was forced to assume a new name and fake past. Taken to Louisiana on a disease-ridden plague ship, he was initially sold to a cotton planter. In the twelve years that follow he is sold to many different owners who treat him with varying levels of savagery; forced labour, scant food and numerous beatings are his regular fare. Against all odds, Northup eventually succeeds in contacting a sympathetic party and manages to get word to his family. The ensuing rescue and legal cases are no less shocking and intriguing than the rest of the tale. Northup’s meticulous first-hand recordings of slave life provide a true-life testament to tremendous courage and tenacity in the face of unfathomable injustice. A new film premiering in 2014, featuring Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch, is sure to introduce this amazing story to a new audience.
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