New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.
In this riveting landmark autobiography which reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and twelve years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War. It validated Harriett Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had become the best-selling American book in history a few years earlier and significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition. Experience our official movie tie-in audiobook for the award-winning motion picture, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong'o. This audio edition with an accompanying custom map is based on the research of Dr. Sue Eakin, the nationally recognized authority on Solomon Northup who spent a lifetime authenticating his story.
Hard working Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color in 1841, enjoys family life with his wife and three children in Saratoga, New York. He delights his community with his fiddle playing and antic spirit, and has positive expectations of all he meets. When he is deceived by “circus promoters” to accompany them to a musical gig in the nation’s capital, his joyful life takes an unimaginable turn. He awakens in shackles to find he has been drugged, kidnapped and bound for the slave block in D.C.
After Solomon is shipped 1,000 miles to New Orleans, he is assigned his slave name and quickly learns that the mere utterance of his true origin or rights as a freeman are certain to bring severe punishment or death. While he endures the brutal life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated Bayou Boeuf plantation country, he must learn how to play the system and plot his escape home.
For 12 years, his fine mind captures the reality of slavery in stunning detail, as we learn about the characters that populate plantation society and the intrigues of the bayou – from the collapse of a slave rebellion resulting in mass hangings due to traitorous slave Lew Cheney, to the tragic abuse of his friend Patsey because of Mrs. Epps’ jealousy of her husband’s sexual exploitation of his pretty young slave.
When Solomon finally finds a sympathizing friend who risks his life to secret a letter to the North, a courageous rescue attempt ensues that could either compound Solomon’s suffering, or get him back to the arms of his family.
AUTHENTICATION: Northup’s harrowing first-hand account was authenticated from decades of research by Dr. Sue Eakin, who rediscovered the original narrative as a 12-year old in 1931 and made it her life’s work.
For additional audio clips, background info and images, see our website at www.12YearsASlaveBook.com.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Pratheek Deviprasad on 27-10-17
Very poor narration-Illegible/Unclear
I regret buying this audio book. I take long drives and use my purchases during this time. Have worked well in the past, unfortunately not for this one. The narrator is literally mumbling and if you are unable to rewind time and again, it is like hearing an outline story. I just wasted my monthly credit on this.
Later I could see another reviewer mentioning the same.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Book Reader on 04-04-13
I've waited for this a long time
Any additional comments?
Almost forty years ago, Dr. Sue Eakin opened for me the portal to the world of Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color kidnapped and forced into slavery for twelve years in the fields that I had seen growing up in central Louisiana. Her life's mission was to nurture and preserve his true story, and because of her dedication, I know about this remarkable man who over a hundred years ago walked many of the same places I walked ... he in bondage, me in freedom.
In 1975, Dr. Eakin's son, Frank Eakin (my classmate and today the producer of the audiobook), photographed the old plantation house where Northup toiled in the fields of its brutal owner. I was amazed to discover that it was about 5 miles from my home and that I could read all about it in my grandmother's copy of "Twelve Years A Slave." First edited by Dr. Eakin in 1968 to authenticate Northup's original narrative (published in 1853, but hard to find through the cobwebs of time), it has been preserved for eternity in the canon of slave narratives because of her lifetime's efforts. So much did Solomon Northup become woven into her life that he became like a member of the whole Eakin family, and his name is chiseled into my own lifetime of memories.
Thus began my magnificent obsession during these last four decades; I could never forget Northup. He was the subject of many of my college essays and presentations, and his experiences elicited both the delight and horror of my classmates. I've collected Dr. Eakin’s subsequent Louisiana history textbook and her histories of surrounding towns for my "Eakin library," and my family and I have cherished these treasures like priceless heirlooms.
Now imagine that Northup has a voice ... and that of none other than the inimitable Lou Gossett, Jr. A voice is worth a thousand emotions, and Mr. Gossett intones the dignity and the wit, the anger and the anguish, the joy and the sorrow of Solomon Northup. This audiobook allows you to imagine that he's sitting right next to you and telling you all about his kidnapping and the loss of his freedom (in the nation's capital city, no less) and his twelve long years in bondage. Besides being educated and born a free man, Northup was a musician who felt the rhythms in the melody of life. Mr. Gossett's dynamic voice and seamless transitions between characters and events places you in the middle of the 1800s, actually feeling it through the eyes of a slave...an extremely intelligent man with a spirit that could not be "whipped down" when he was made the scapegoat of the lesser men who "owned" him.
Yes, I've waited to "meet" Solomon Northup a long time, as a lover of history and today as a teacher. You'll want to meet him, too. You'll never forget him, and maybe some day you'll want to ride along the winding country roads that are marked as the "Northup Trail" in central Louisiana while Solomon tells you his story. He'll awaken the ghosts of another time, as well as your humanity.
50 of 53 people found this review helpful
By Russell on 04-02-14
Watched the Movie First, Then listened to the Book
The movie made such an impact on me that I purchased the audiobook. Tarantino's Django Unchained with it's slave superman gave me no emotional understanding of what it meant to be a slave in the deep south. This movie did and I wanted to listen to the book to extend that knowledge.
Then it sat for a while, because this started to feel like a homework assignment (I'm ashamed to admit). It wasn't. The book did start slowly as the mundane life of Solomon Northrup was laid out in the first thirty minutes. But that was necessary to identify our ordinary lives with Solomon's average lifestyle and therefore really "feel" his sudden revocation of freedom when it happened.
This story was able to educate, fascinate and spark my outrage towards slavery all over again. If you are like me and have already seen this movie, here are some tips for your upcoming audio adventure.
There are some scenes in the movie that were made up. You will recognize that with the noticeable omissions during your second time through this incredible story. There were some scenes that were in the movie and in the book. They will became richer with a second telling from a deeper perspective. Finally there was a lot that wasn't in the movie or glossed over in the movie. These pieces were totally absorbing as you take in the reality of slavery in the deep south all over again.
Some stories should not be ignored. This is one of them.
23 of 24 people found this review helpful