Twelve Years a Slave is the incredible story of a northern free black man, Solomon Northup, who was drugged, kidnapped, beaten, and sold into slavery in the deep south of Louisiana. It is a story about man’s inhumanity to man, but also about an indefatigable human spirit. It is an incredible book, that I am sorry as to not have read until now.
Solomon made his living as a violinist and carpenter in New York. He was married and had three kids. He was approached by some traveling circus men and enticed to play his violin for a large sum if he traveled with them to Washington D.C. Solomon agreed and decided to go with them. He was not able to tell his wife as she was away for work in a nearby town.
After arriving in D.C. he was drugged by the men and put into a cage with other black men who were also kidnapped. When he protested that he was a free man, he was severely beaten and whipped so bad, that he never mentioned it again to his masters during his next 12 years as a slave. He was put on a ship as they traveled to Louisiana. On the ship, one of the men died from an outbreak of smallpox, while Solomon was disfigured by it.
As a slave Solomon had many near death experiences that he recounts with incredible fidelity. You’ll be amazed at how, against all odds, he finally reunites with his family in New York 12 years later.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it. You can get it for free on Google Play at the above link, or listen on YouTube below.