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Twelve Years a Slave, a chronicle of the amazing ordeal of a free African-American kidnapped in the north, and impressed into slavery in Louisiana, is one of the most compelling and detailed slave narratives in existence. The text and story were virtually unchallenged by Southern apologists or partisans of the era. Northup resists the urge to laud himself as an exemplary character or focus solely his own experience, giving contemporary readers a remarkable account of the lives of the slave community as a whole. As an educated man, torn from freedom and plunged into slavery, he brings into horrible and tantalizingly exact clarity the life and labor of slaves in the antebellum American South, the complex economic choices and ironic moral concessions of slaveholding, and the calamitous effect of slavery on the foundations of civilization."
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About the Author

Born in 1808, Solomon Northup lived the life of a free man and educated tradesman in New York. He was early acquainted with voting and civic life through his father, and he developed a strong sense of his own liberty and dignity. Like his father, he maintained a cordial relationship with the white family that had previously held his own family in bondage, an association that would help secure his freedom. Northup and his wife, Anne Hampton Northup, were engaged in a quintessentially American quest for social and economic advancement when he was enticed away from the safety of Saratoga Springs, New York, with the promise of work and kidnapped into slavery in 1841.

Reviews

First published in 1853, this account presents rare original source material about slavery in the 19th century. Northup was born a free man in New York in 1808, kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841, and sold as a slave. He worked the next 12 years on a Louisiana plantation, trying to get word of his plight to his relatives in the North so his freedom could be restored. This engrossing account describes how thoroughly slaves were under the control of their masters. Narrator Richard Allen does an excellent job conveying Northup's thoughts and emotions. His rich voice imparts the frustrations, hopes, and fears of the author. VERDICT Recommended for students and anyone seeking to understand this sad period of history.-Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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