Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a compelling account from the pre–Civil War era of the author’s harrowing descent into slavery and eventual rescue, has been selected by public vote as this year’s book of choice for Saratoga Reads, the community reading program now marking its ninth year.
Northup, a freeborn black man who lived with his family in Saratoga Springs, worked for local hotels and earned a reputation as a talented violinist. In his book, Northup tells how in 1841 two men enticed him to join their traveling circus as a musician, eventually luring him to Washington, D.C., where he was apparently drugged, then shackled and imprisoned. He was illegally sold into slavery in Louisiana, where he served three masters. He had left behind a wife and three children.
Twelve Years a Slave then chronicles Northup’s travails as he is passed from one owner to another and the political wrangling necessary for him to regain his freedom and be reunited with his family in 1853.