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Twelve Years a Slave is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man and resident of New York, who was kidnapped in 1841and sold into slavery. He was rescued in 1853 after spending 12 years as a slave. Northup tells the story of how two men approached him under the guise of circus promoters who were interested in his violin skills. They offered him a generous but fair amount of money to work for their circus, and then offered to put him up in a hotel in Washington D.C. Upon arriving he was drugged, bound, and moved to a slave pen in the city. He is sold as a slave and spent 12 years working on farms in the South. It is not until a white carpenter from Canada, Samuel Bass, arrives at the farm on which Northup works that he reveals his past of a free man. Bass would deliver letters to Northup's wife that would start the legal process of earning Northup his freedom. This classic of American history sheds light on slavery and the life of slaves in the mid 19th century.
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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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