|Twelve Years a Slave
"Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoying the blessings of liberty in a free State - and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained until happily rescued in the month of January 1853, after a bondage of twelve years - it has been suggested that an account of my life and fortunes would not be uninteresting to the public."
This unforgettable memoir was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. This is the true story of Solomon Northup, who was born and raised as a freeman in New York. He lived the American dream, with a house and a loving family - a wife and two kids. Then one day he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the deep south. These are the true accounts of his twelve hard years as a slave - many believe this memoir is even more graphic and disturbing than the film. His extraordinary journey proves the resiliency of hope and the human spirit despite the most grueling and formidable of circumstances.
Reading this was very powerful and something I would recommend everyone to do. This journal (or would you call it a memoir?) is written with such a story-telling feel that I had to constantly remind myself this was a true story. I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm a purest at heart and love to read the book first. I find if I see the movie, it construes the images while reading the book, taking away the fun of imagining what things would look like. I'm actually reviewing this book without watching the movie at all! I will get to the movie, it won awards for obvious reasons and the book clearly presents some fantastic reasons of it's own.
For those of you, like me, that wanted to wait to see the movie (or live under a rock)... I will start with a short synopsis of the book. Solomon Northup, the Author, was a "freeman" living in New York with his wife and family. One day he takes on a job with some characters and winds up drugged and kidnapped to be sent South and sold into slavery. This amazing account of his struggles goes into massive detail (even though the book is fairly short), each chapter gives us insight into what it was to be a slave. Since Solomon started off as a free man, he had to learn how to be a slave himself... this journey tells us exactly how it was and we learn step by step along with him.
For example, he goes into lengthy detail on how to pick cotton, cane sugar, harvest crops and more. We learn that the only Holiday slaves got off was Christmas, and we get to peek into the celebrations of the Holiday. We learn what it feels like to whipped and left out in the sun for punishment. Every detail Solomon gives us, brings us one step closer to an awful truth, one history should never forget. To be honest with you, I started thinking I've read so much on slavery and the Civil War that I couldn't be surprised by much on the topic. I was wrong! I did NOT know that "freemen" were kidnapped and sold as slaves. It just goes to show you that there is SO much we don't know and we should never stop learning from our past. I urge you to pick this book up (the e-book is FREE) and read it.
P.S. - As usual, I feel the need to share some of the things I've come across while googling.