12 Years a Slave

The basis of the 2013 Academy Award–winning film 12 Years a Slave, this is the autobiography of Solomon Northup—an African American man born free in New York state who is tricked, kidnapped, taken to Washington, DC, and sold into slavery.

Solomon experiences the true horrors of the slave trade—intense cruelty, beatings, sickness, negligence, barbarism, starvation. Throughout the book’s melancholic prose, Northup recounts these horrific experiences in excruciating and agonizing detail. In one of the book’s passages, he states: “My sufferings I can compare to nothing else than the burning agonies of hell!” For the next twelve years, Northup kept his identity hidden only to himself and remained imprisoned in this state of bondage.

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