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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Solomon Northrup - Twelve Years a Slave

   Book Reviewed live on the bookshow by Maggie Perkovic on 21st Nov 2013
This is a quite engrossing book. Written in the 1850s, it tells how a man born free was
by two white men in becoming trapped as a slave for twelve long yearsuntil he finally
was able to break free and return to his family. I don't think he had counselling!!
Solomon was the son of a man who had been a slave on a plantation, but on
his owner's death  he was granted a Bill of Transmussion which meant he was
his own man as it were. Solomon grew up, married a lady by whom he had three
children. Life was hard finding work but he was an able worker and travelled where the
work was. One day two visiting gentlemen, on hearing of Solomon's ability with the
violin asked him to come with them for some Gigs some way away where he could
earn a lot of money. In his innocence Solomon left imediately without informing his
wife. After a long train journey he was drugged and sold to a slave dealer who
travelled to New Orleans and further where he encountered the best and the worst
of humanity. His retelling of his suffering is all the more interesting for as a free man
he cannot understand the sheer brutality of the owners. One man who ordered him
to split some logs, then called him away for another work, beat him severely because
the first job was not completed, which he obviously had no time for.
A hard working young slave who was the fastest cotton picker of all the workers
was ruined by her master's sexual advances which caused his jealous
wife to order him to beat her into submission. After weeks of this, she could
no longer pick as well as she used to.
Another slave he encountered has two young children that she hoped could be sold with her.
Sadly they were all sold individually which broke her heart and she never saw them again.
How he managed to get word to friends back in his village and finally regain his freedom
is quite incredible. His children were now grown up, and his wife who guesed what had
happened had found work as a cook in various establishments as she waited for his return.
This is written clearly and concisely and I found it riveting. Highly recommended.
Maggie Perkovic.

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