Friday, March 21, 2014

Classic of the Month: Twelve Years a Slave

In honor of its most recent Academy Awards and much deserved recognition, we are once again featuring Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup as our Classic of the Month for March.

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.

His story has seen a wave of media attention recently, winning three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Additionally, Twelve Years received the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama as well as the Best Film award at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Shortly thereafter, an article was published about Northup's family, interviewing his great-great-great grandson, Clayton Adams, on how Northup's story had affected him and his family. On March 4th, the New York Times released a correction apologizing for the misspelling of Northup's name in an article written about his kidnapping 161 years ago.

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 recently made the New York Times Best Sellers List.

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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