The Darkness of the Womb

The Darkness of the Womb

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a SlaveTwelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. It reads like a man telling his life story, which is fascinating, giving what the man became for twelve years, but not as engrossing as some of the new journalism that came out in the 60s and 70s by people like Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. Call it a book of its time.

I actually saw the movie before I read the book, and there's an interesting difference. The movie is about the life of a slave, while the book is more about slave life. There's actually a huge difference between the two. While I could empathize more with Solomon in the movie, in the book, you actually get a sense that slave life wasn't as horrific as it truly was, given that Solomon presents a fair depiction of both a kindly slave owner and a tyrannical slave owner. There's also much more hope in the book, which is refreshing, but it makes the situation not feel as dire as it truly was. This is one instance where I think the movie is better than the book.

Give it a read to get probably the most accurate depiction of slave life ever put to page. Just don't expect it to read like a movie, because it doesn't.

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