Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Twelve Years a Slave” as Want to Read:
Twelve Years a Slave
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Twelve Years a Slave

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  77,060 ratings  ·  5,541 reviews
Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, ...more
ebook, Enhanced Edition, 363 pages
Published August 8th 2013 by Eakin Films & Publishing (first published 1853)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Twelve Years a Slave, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rèñjh yes, if you have relation to the similar story. It did me because I'm a 4th generation from indentured labour system when Indians were tricked into…moreyes, if you have relation to the similar story. It did me because I'm a 4th generation from indentured labour system when Indians were tricked into British ships in early 1800 to go to Fiji and work the lands there. They had nothing except themselves while facing the injustice system of sexual abuse and inhumane living conditions.(less)
Ryan M The way the story is written, I would say no this book is not to graphic for a 14yr old. Especially in light of the day and age we live where violence…moreThe way the story is written, I would say no this book is not to graphic for a 14yr old. Especially in light of the day and age we live where violence in media is the main stream. I find video games and cartoons to be more violent than this book, because they are violence without meaning or a message to go behind them.

The message of the book, is a true story depicting a very dark side to American history, for a young adult reader (anyone in their teens) it is not a book to be read alone, it needs discussion and reflection.

I found the story to be inspiring, filled with hope, faith, and resilience against great odd's and a unique view of slavery in America during the victorian era.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not your 14yr should read the book, you should read it first and decide for yourself it is acceptable for your family as it does deal with some heavy issues. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Miranda Reads
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
What difference is there in the color of the soul?
Solomon Northup, born a free man during slavery times in America, is tricked and subsequently sold into slavery.

He goes from respectable carpenter, clever violinist, father of two to "Platt" (a slave from Georgia) in only a few days.

At first he tries to resist but soon learns that any sign of rebellion would result in his death.

This book chronicles his twelve years as Platt - through the working conditions, the harsh overseers, the inhuma
...more
Brian
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: William T. Vollmann
Shelves: ruard_referred

There's a sin, a fearful sin, resting on this nation, that will not go unpunished forever. There will be reckoning yet ... it may be sooner or it may be later, but it's a coming as sure as the Lord is just.

-Solomon Northup, 1855

I am a middle-age American white guy obsessed with my country's shameful chapter, our "peculiar institution" - slavery. No matter how many books I read, movies I see or any other means of approaching the subject there exists a gulf of understanding that can never be bridg
...more
Petra X
I know it's a genuine slave narrative, but it is just one-note. It concentrates on episode after episode of intense and repeated physical abuse. I don't doubt its veracity but there are far more nuanced - and readable - narratives out there.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is about life as a slave when not being physically abused. For most slave owners slaves were extremely expensive farm animals and only the richest who could afford 'herds' of them would be able to maltreat them on a cont
...more
Rowena
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
“Now had I approached within the shadow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the sweet light of liberty for many a weary year.”

I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea that this was a true story. I find it odd that I’d never heard of this particular slave narrative, given how powerful and informative it is. I decided to read it after all the media frenzy surrounding the movie (which I hav
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Twelve years a slave, Solomon Northup (1808 - 1863)
Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured hi
...more
Maria Espadinha
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um Herói da Vida Real


Existem múltiplas e variadas ficções sobre a escravatura nos USA. Mas estórias verdadeiras, narradas por alguém que as sofreu e viveu, não conheço outra além desta!

Solomon Northup nasceu e viveu livre no Norte dos USA.
Um dia foi emboscado, raptado e vendido como escravo no Sul. E por lá permaneceu até ao dia em que reconquistou a liberdade que lhe fôra tão barbaramente roubada.

Por um lado, esta é uma narrativa chocante, onde somos, como em muitas outras, confrontados com a
...more
Becky
I cannot fathom this book. Everything that happens in this autobiography is so distant from anything that I have experienced that I cannot even conceive of the injustice in any sort of measurable or reasonable amount. I feel angry and heartbroken that this sort of crime ever took place in our country, disgusted to the point of choking, so horrified that human trafficking through America is still so present and strong, so helpless because I don’t even know how to help, because I want to help, bec ...more
Bookdragon Sean
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
“My sufferings I can compare to nothing else than the burning agonies of hell!”

This book is told from the view point of a man who was a slave, not some historian’s interpretation of the events or a novelist’s aggrandisement. It is a frank narrative of the events that surrounded one man’s persecution into a woeful existence and allows the reader to form their own opinion of the life of a slave. This is a unique enlightenment into the American slave system, of the 19th century, conveying the hypoc
...more
Greg
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciated this excellent book (some of its scenes still haunt me), but compared to other non-fiction slave narratives such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, there was a bit more distance of perspective here. The facts are still searing; the antidotes still filled me with horror. But sometimes the narrator feels a step removed.

I read much of the account before I realized why I felt that way .. and then I got to Northup's description of the Christmas celebrations among the slaves. He
...more
Kyriakos Sorokkou
 cotton 


description

After reading this book, I will never see cotton under the same way ever again.

When we think of cotton, we see something we consider fluffy, comfortable, and cosy, but for thousands of people, cotton and more precisely cotton fields were hell on earth.
A lot of people were unlucky to be born in an era where your skin colour defined whether you were a master or a slave.
Black people from their late teens up to their deaths were working for 360 days in cotton fields, in maize fields, on su
...more
Richard Knight
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. It reads like a man telling his life story, which is fascinating, giving what the man became for twelve years, but not as engrossing as some of the new journalism that came out in the 60s and 70s by people like Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. Call it a book of its time.

I actually saw the movie before I read the book, and there's an interesting difference. The movie is about the life of a slave, while th
...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from a free black man sold into slavery and his first to be free again.

Twelve Years a Slave is gut-wrenching stuff written by an immensely readable writer. Northup's journey is incredible...almost too incredible to believe. One has to continually remind oneself that he was not born into slavery, nor was he taken from overseas. His education is evident. This is no ignorant man denied an education and made to struggle along communicating with Englis
...more
Hadrian
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a horrifying story made only worse by the fact that it is all true. I'll leave other reviews to go on in detail about it.

I don't even have the consolation that 'well, at least it doesn't happen anymore'. Chattel slavery and abduction are still hideous problems the world over. It's all very grim to think about. Still, the world owes Northrup a debt of gratitude for bring the truth about such an awful system and the abuses it caused.
kisha
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
12 Years a Slave is probably the most unique slave book that I've read so far because I can't say that I have ever read about a free person being kidnapped and sold into slavery. The concept was new to me and I imagine it was probably very common considering that is full profit for a slave trader (not having to buy a slave and then sale for profit). I can't say that I absolutely loved his book. I also can't say that I believe most of what was written to be a fact. What I believe is that he was k ...more
Angela M
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. I did not know about this book until I saw the movie last month. During the brutal lashing scenes and the heart breaking scene of a mother separated from her children, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.
I left the movie theater, frantically looking in the Amazon app for the book. After I finished the book, I felt that same
...more
Alice Lippart
Distressing, powerful and fascinating. This offers up an interesting, and in some ways, singular perspective into a part in history. Although some people may compare it to other narratives of the same time and find them more valid, I disagree - this is one mans experience of Slavery in the south and an experience equally worth reading about.
Duane
The gut wrenching account, apparently true, of Solomon Northrup, a free black man, with wife and children living in New York State. He is kidnapped and sold as a slave, then shipped south to work on the plantations in Bayou Boeuf Louisiana. He spends most of the twelve years under the cruel tyranny of a sadistic plantation owner named Epps. His eventual escape and return to New York and his family occurs only after a series of events that aren't much short of a miracle. The narrative is painfull ...more
Lela
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
"There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones--there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnesses is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one, Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not--may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance--discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the plea ...more
Ken Moten
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
"I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation—only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage."

I feel intense guilt saying this, but I read this book after seeing the movie. I don't simply mean the film in thea
...more
Eugenie
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read, although distressing in parts. This true narrative is a must read, especially for right thinkers. It left me pondering the profound evil that was/is slavery. What folly is man's inhumanity towards other men! We all bear the responsibility to prevent even an inkling of such injustice wherever in the world it is still perpetrated.

Chrissie
Dec 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Slavery is an abomination. The United States was from its independence from England a nation that relied heavily on slavery. It was not a land of equality and it did not offer freedom for all.

This book is an autobiography written by Solomon Northup, a free Black kidnapped and taken into slavery for twelve years. He was from Upper-state New York. He played the fiddle. Given a proposition to earn extra money doing just this, he agreed to travel to Washington D.C. It was here he was kidnapped and
...more
Ken
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this prior to seeing the movie, narrated through Solomon Northup a black man living in New York who is kidnapped and thrust into slavery.

Being told as a memoir makes this tough subject matter seem even more horrifying real, especially the experiences that some of the black women had to endure.

It’s important that books like these get adapted into movies, as I feel it raises its profile.
It’s so important that everyone should read it.
Elizabeth
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Life is dear to every living thing; the worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for it.”
― Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave

“There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones - there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life
...more
Kells Next Read
Atlas! I had not then learned the measure of "man's inhumanity to man," nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain.

This was such a profound, heart-rending, eye opening and enlightening read. I was literally, an emotional roller coaster while perusing the pages of the book and found it difficult if not impossible to stop once I had started. Words fail me to express how necessary and important it is, to not on read (to gain a better understanding) but also to be ab
...more
Dorothea
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Is it weird to have a favorite slave narrative? This is my favorite slave narrative, mainly because Solomon Northup was BAD. ASS.

Somebody needs to make a superhero-style comic about this man.

Northup was born free and lived most of his first thirty-three years in New York, where he married and had three children. His wife, Anna, was a chef and one of his talents was playing the violin, so during the social season they often parted ways and took temporary jobs in catering and entertaining.

In 1841
...more
Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
I am afraid that I am guilty this time around of watching the movie before reading the book.

Twelve Years a Slave is Solomon Northup’s story of how he was kidnapped, drugged, beaten and sold off as a slave. It is a detailed account of 12 years of his life that he spent as a slave. The brutalities that he had to endure, the psychological torture that it was and the stories of the people who touched his life in one way or the other. He not only narrates his own story, but through knowing him and hi
...more
Mariaelena Di Gennaro
"La schiavitù tende a brutalizzare i sentimenti umani più delicati. Assistere quotidianamente a forme estreme di sofferenza, ascoltare l'agonia degli schiavi, costringerli immobili sotto una frusta spietata, lasciarli squartare dai cani, farli morire senza attenzioni, seppellirli senza una bara, non può che rendere gli uomini spericolatamente animaleschi. Se il padrone è crudele, la colpa non è sua ma del sistema in cui vive, dell'influenza esercitata da ciò che lo circonda, da chi fin da bambin ...more
Joy D
Non-fiction that describes Solomon Northup’s experience as a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he remained from 1841 to 1853, working on plantations in Louisiana before being rescued through the efforts of friends and family. I was impressed by this account, especially since it was documented almost immediately upon his return to freedom when his memories were fresh. This powerful narrative vividly depicts life of a slave in the antebellum American South, including sl ...more
Vanessa
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12 Years a Slave is an utterly affecting non-fiction narrative. It follows the free man Solomon Northup, a man with a loving family and a talent for the violin, who was drugged and sold into slavery where he suffered for 12 years before eventually regaining freedom.

I was already familiar with Solomon Northup's story, having seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation back when it was released a few years ago, and the film affected me so much that I don't think I could ever watch it again. Listening t
...more
Carol
3.5 Stars. Solomon Northup, a free man, survives a brutal twelve years after his capture into slavery and is finally able to procure his way back home through the diligence and persistence of one true friend. While a true story written in 1853, I sometimes found it unconvincing (not that I doubt it as fact) and difficult to connect with Solomon during the telling of this horrific time in his life perhaps bc of the narrator and/or writing style, I'm not sure? A good portion of the story is spent ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
REVEIW 1 4 Dec 11, 2018 09:01PM  
Play Book Tag: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup - 4 stars 9 20 Jul 24, 2018 09:17AM  
Bookworm Bitches : July 2015: Twelve Years a Slave 5 84 Dec 31, 2017 01:28PM  
Around the Year i...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup 2 17 Mar 04, 2017 02:34AM  
Around the Year i...: Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup 10 48 Feb 05, 2017 05:24PM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for Twelve Years a Slave 41 366 Feb 05, 2017 03:36PM  
  • The  Slave Ship: A Human History
  • Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World
  • Ida: A Sword Among Lions
  • While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement
  • American Slavery, American Freedom
  • Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People
  • Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
  • Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
  • The Strange Career of Jim Crow
  • Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South
  • Shadows of the Workhouse
  • Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin
  • Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
  • The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves
  • The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832
  • Men We Reaped
  • American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt
  • The Invisible Woman
339 followers
Solomon Northup was a free-born African American from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is noted for having been kidnapped in 1841 when enticed with a job offer. When he accompanied his supposed employers to Washington, DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. From Washington, DC, he was transported to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. After 12 ...more
“What difference is there in the color of the soul?” 124 likes
“Life is dear to every living thing; the worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for it.” 81 likes
More quotes…
The Colonists [L] [ENG] (2018) (1) [GOG] | The Rider | 1 bulbe demarre d aponogeton madagascariensis plante aquarium tres rare