Twelve Years A Slave

By Solomon Northup

"So we passed, hand-cuffed and in silence, through the streets of Washington--through the Capital of a nation, whose theory of government, we are told, rests on the foundation of man's inalienable right to life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness! Hail! Columbia, happy land, indeed!" Solomon Northup, kidnapped free man at the outset of his twelve years a slave.

Solomon Northup is the reason the term, "required reading" was coined. Twelve Years A Slave is an eye opening, heart wrenching first-hand account of slavery near the Red River in Louisiana. Gripping and detailed, Northup's story is full of victims and villains, along with a kind-hearted few who, raised in milieu of Southern slavery, were ignorant but willing participants and perpetrators of its insensibility and insanity. Northup's account is well written and unvarnished, the stories as raw as the backs of the whipped slaves we meet. As he notes at the conclusion of his dark account, "If I have failed in anything, it has been in presenting to the reader too prominently the bright side of the picture." Readers of The Warmth Of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) will find this a comparable volume for the way it transports the reader to another time and place, albeit an era that preceded the Great Migration about which Wilkerson writes. A "must read" that I wish I read much earlier in life.