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Solomon Northup was an educated, free black man from upstate New York with a wife and children in the 1841 when through a chain of events ended up being kidnapped and sold into slavery. He eventually ended up deep in Louisiana and spent the next 12 years of his life there until he was rescued by a prominent citizen of his home state that knew him.
What stands out in this book to me are the descriptions of the various people he met and how they treated him from being very kind and gracious to vile and wicked. As a southerner I have often heard that slaves were basically happy and contented and this book will immediately put an end such a notion. Even the most illiterate and uneducated slave Solomon met yearned for freedom, as is human nature to do so. That being said there were several decent southern slave owners described in the book who treated their slaves well. One of them William Ford, almost certainly saved Solomon from being lynched by his new owner.
On the flip side there were many vile slave owners as well. Solomon was owned by a carpenter who mistreated him quite badly and Solomon had to fight him twice to prevent himself from being killed by his owner. After one of these fights he fled into the swamp being chased by his owner and several other slave owners with their bloodhounds. His description of the bloodhounds following him into the swamp and him seeing all of the snakes and alligators was quite interesting. Solomon, beside being literate was blessed with a great deal of "street" smarts and common sense. He knew how to evade the dogs when they chased him into the swamp. The aforementioned William Ford saved Solomon from the carpenter's wrath after this episode.
Solomon then went on to spend the rest of his time in captivity with another brutal slave owner. This owner was drunk half the time and continually mistreated all of his slaves. Solomon's rescue came when a Canadian drifter who worked as a laborer agreed to mail a rescue note to Solomon's home town. A few months later Solomon was rescued by a prominent gentlemen from his native New York and was reunited with his family.
This book was fascinating reading and moved at a rapid pace. Most of the books I read I never bother to write a review on unless I found them to be a good read and this is a good read!
If you want to read about slavery as it was and not in glossed over terms or political correct terms then this book is for you. The truth what a concept!
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