Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave Summary

The story that inspired the major motion picture, with an introduction by the bestselling author of Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing, vividly detailed, and utterly unforgettable account of slavery.

The story that inspired the major motion picture, with an introduction by the bestselling author of Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing, vividly detailed, and utterly unforgettable account of slavery.

Solomon Northup was an entrepreneur and dedicated family man, father to three young children, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. What little free time he had after long days of manual and farm labor he spent reading books and playing the violin. Though his father was born into slavery, Solomon was born and lived free.

In March 1841, two strangers approached Northup, offering him employment as a violinist in a town hundreds of miles away from his home in Saratoga Springs, New York. Solomon bid his wife farewell until his return. Only after he was drugged and bound did he realize the strangers were kidnappers—that nefarious brand of criminals in the business of capturing runaway and free blacks for profit. Thus began Northup's horrific life as a slave.

Dehumanized, beaten, and worked mercilessly, Northup suffered all the more, wondering what had become of his family. One owner was savagely cruel and Northup recalls he was “indebted to him for nothing, save undeserved abuse.” Just as he felt the summer of his life fade and all hope nearly lost, he met a kindhearted stranger who changed the course of his life.

With its firsthand account of this country's Peculiar Institution, this is a book no one interested in American history can afford to miss.

Book Reviews

laural c

Spectacular5 star

This is an awesome autobiography! How awful were Solomon’s 12 years of bondage but how great was his liberation. I couldn’t put this book down, it was definitely a page-turner. Solomon recounts his life as a kidnapped free person who was sold into slavery. How extremely terrible. This is a firsthand account from a person who lived it, telling how horrible slavery is. I highly recommend this book.55


Great Read5 star

I loved this book just as much as Wench, I met this author while in high school & she inspired me in a lot of ways!! Can’t wait to read her next book.55


Page Turner!5 star

I could absolutely not put this book down from cover to cover. I’ve seen the movie some years ago but the book just gives you more first-hand depictions. His articulation is so refreshing and satisfying to read from such a time when ignorance was all a person of color was expected to portray. Now I must watch the movie again and certainly, I recommend this book to any and everyone!55


Great Book5 star

Although it’s hard to “get into” due to the “wordage” it is an amazing story. Couldn’t put it down. A book to keep on the book shelf55


12 years a Slave5 star

This was an excellent book. The kind you don’t want to stop reading. Very well written that I could almost visualize what occurred.55


Gripping Slavery Narrative5 star

The true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. Vivid description of his experiences and emotions during his 12-year captivity, culminating in his liberation. Quite an emotional experience for the reader- anger, hope, suspense, and final elation. Highly recommended.55

Great yas yeah haba

Amazing book5 star

Such an amazing book, after finishing I came to a thought and conclusion this really happened to someone for 12 years. Not only did this happen to Mr. Northup but also countless of other African Americans. However, they may have not had the same outcome as Mr. Northup did. Such an amazing book!!!!55

The worm with a perm

Twelve Years a Slave5 star

I was so shocked with the content of the book that I checked twice to see if it really was non fiction. Although I am not indigenous to the USA, it made me ashamed to be a white human being. Beautifully written by a man who has every right to be angry and bitter with the world but instead chose to embrace his rightful freedom - absolutely inspiring!55


A great book!5 star

This book should be a requirement in every school! A factual picture of the awful system of slavery from someone who'd always been free! The book draws you in. Very descriptive. So glad he was able to regain his freedom!55


Impacts our lives today5 star

This is a true story about this man and he tells us about everything that happened as a slave. This book can relate to our day lives and how we need to treat everyone equally! I highly recommend this book to everyone!55

Other Books by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a Slave


Twelve Years a Slave
4.5     101
Twelve Years a Slave


Twelve Years a Slave
4.5     128

   Users Online