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Twelve Years a Slave Paperback – 20 January 2016
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- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (20 January 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 94 pages
- ISBN-10 : 152362051X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1523620517
- Dimensions : 21.59 x 0.56 x 27.94 cm
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Top reviews from Australia
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At the Vatican on Monday, West Australian iron-ore magnate Andrew Forrest launched the Global Freedom Network – an organisation led by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt.
The network aims to free the world's estimated 30 million slaves, and has set itself specific, ambitious targets to achieve this.
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It now seems very hard to believe that white men could treat their fellow human beings like animals.
Wouldn't it be interesting if Solomon Northup was alive today to see a black man as President of the United States of America.
Top reviews from other countries
This memoir is divided into 22 chapters and each chapter is description of major events of these years of slavery. There are a few but potent and powerful illustrations of events. The beauty of this book lies in the fact that the narrator admitted that not all whites were mean to him. If his abductors were white so was his rescuer. It's not the colour it's the intentions, greed and lack of compassion which makes or mar a man to be human.
In Northup Solomon's words, "I have no comments to make upon the subject of Slavery. Those who read this book may form their own opinions of the 'peculiar institution'. What it may be in other States, I do not profess to know ;what it is in the region of Red River, is truly and faithfully delineated in these page. This is no fiction, no exaggeration. If I have failed in anything, it has been in presenting to the reader too prominently the bright side of the picture"
I recommend this book whole heartedly as it is a gem of a book. If you skip to read it you are undoubtedly missing one of the finest piece of literature.
Northup was a free man although black, as he was a resident of New York, and his father had been given his freedom in the past. Northup was tricked and then kidnapped and sold on as a slave, which did happen on occasion. It is a part of the slave trade that we seem to overlook when we talk about African American history. You needed to be able to produce documents to prove that you were a free man, and in the case of Northup and many others, they were either stolen, or were not obtained in the first place. Indeed, such tricks were quite old and similar ones were played on those Europeans who sold themselves into bondage to eventually achieve something in America in the past.
Solomon gives us his account of how he found himself to be kidnapped and enslaved, and what he went through whilst dreaming of freedom. He was an educated man, practical with his hands and was married with three children and it was truly appalling what happened to him. This story is quite harrowing as most slave literature is and reminds us that such practices still are with us today, and should be stopped.
Because Solomon was from the State of New York, this actually turned out to be his salvation as that State had already passed a statute if such a thing should happen to a black resident, with regards to kidnapping and sold into slavery. For twelve long years Solomon was a slave, and then thankfully due to a Canadian helping him his friends from New York were able to locate him. Mainly in part to the new film release of this that we do in part owe a thanks to this book once more being widely available as it reminds us all of man’s inhumanity to man and that as we are now in the Twenty First Century perhaps more thought and action should be given to preventing slavery and other inhumanities from continually occurring. I’m no optimist and I know that things such as wars are inevitable, but slavery and other degradations of our fellow humans should be stopped if we want to progress as a species.
Reviewed in India on 4 August 2019
The other level is that it's a true story.
In places it's not at all an easy book to read. Not because of the writing, which is straight forward and remarkably detached - Northrup wrote just to tell his story and let it speak for itself - but because of the things and the events it describes.
If you've seen the film but not read the book be warned that the film does not come close to depicting the violence in the book. The film had to look away; Northrup couldn't.
Northup's story is very powerful on the barbaric and brutal levels of violence, on the senseless hate, the screaming injustice, and the sheer stupidity of slavery and on the way a slave-owning society above all brutalises itself.
That perhaps is the most horrifying aspect - that an entire society, with a few brave exceptions, thought all this was perfectly Christian and reasonable.