I could not believe that I had never heard of this book. It felt as important as Anne Frank’s Diary, only published nearly a hundred years before.... The book blew [my] mind: the epic range, the details, the adventure, the horror, and the humanity.... I hope my film can play a part in drawing attention to this important book of courage. Solomon’s bravery and life deserve nothing less. (From the Forward.)
Steve McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave
If you think the movie offers a terrible-enough portrait of slavery, please, do read the book.... The film is stupendous art, but it owes much to a priceless piece of document. Solomon Northup’s memoir is history.... His was not simply an extraordinary story, but an account of the life of a great many ordinary people.
Northup published a memoir of his 12-year nightmare in 1853, the year after Uncle Tom’s Cabin came out, and it was so successful that he went on to participate in two stage adaptations. The book dropped from sight in the 20th century, but the movie tie-in will certainly reestablish its virtually unique status as a work by an educated free man who managed to return from slavery.
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