Thursday, February 13, 2014

Classic of the Month:Twelve Years a Slave

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring an unique and influential work about slavery that has recently achieved renewed recognition because of the release of  major feature movie of the same name:Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.

In 1841, free-born African American Solomon Northup was offered a job in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. He followed his employers to the job site at Washington, D.C., where he was beaten, drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, eventually ending up on a plantation in Louisiana owned by Edwin Epps. While there, in 1852, Northup befriended Canadian carpenter Samuel Bass, who was at the time doing work for Epps. Secretly, Bass was able to contact Northup's family, who informed New York governor Washington Hunt of his kidnapping. The state was able to use a law passed in 1840 that allowed the recovery of free black men who were sold into slavery to rescue Northup. Solomon was finally made free again on January 4, 1853. One of few slaves of his era ever to regain freedom, he devoted his time and energy to lecturing and educating others about abolitionism. Northup is without a doubt, a person worth celebrating.

Twelve Years a Slave was a bestseller in its time and remains one today. Northrup's work sold approximately 30,000 copies copies when it was first released, and has made the Top Ten of the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller list for 2013. A recent film adaptation by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt, has also earned the story the Golden Globe for Best Drama and nine Academy Award nominations including best picture, best actor in a leading and supporting role, best actress in a supporting role, and best director.

Cosimo is proud to have released both an affordable paperback and beautiful hardcover edition of Twelve Years a Slave at Barnes & Noble, as well as on Amazon (paperback and hardcover).

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