While up north on hurrication, I needed something to read. I snooped through the bookshelves at my in-laws and found an intriguing book. It’s titled <i>Twelve Years a Slave</i> and it is by Solomon Northup. This book is now on my list of life-impacting books. It’s not exactly a common book to find, but if you can get ahold of it from anywhere, I’d suggest that you do.
This book is the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man born in New York State a few decades before the Civil War. He was near Washington D.C. on business when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. With his papers proving his freedom stolen and no one willing to hear his tale, he was sent to the New Orleans slave market. From there, he worked on several plantations around the Bayou Boeuf. (This is near the Red River, around present-day Alexandria, Louisiana.) For twelve years (as is made obvious by the title), he lived as a slave. His wife and children only heard that he had been kidnapped. They didn’t know where he was or how to find him.
The story is written in the typical early-1800s style. It details the kindnesses of some people he encountered as well as the evil present in others. Nothing is sugar-coated. Unlike Uncle Tom of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Solomon Northup isn’t perfect. He shows the behavior that results from being treated as nothing but chattel. Above all, his perseverance under extreme injustice is laudable. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
If you’re from Louisiana or have spent any time here, it’s especially interesting. The places he describes are places I’ve heard of or places I’ve been. It makes it all the more real.
I’ve got several other books that are on my short list of highly recommended reading. Periodically I’ll write about them as well. If you have any books you think I’d like to read, please feel free to leave me a comment here or on the book page. (See the tab at the top.) I’m always open to suggestions!