"In a stunning reversal of stereotype, he is often a man among beasts." --Eric Ashley Hairston, from the Introduction Twelve Years a Slave, a chronicle of the amazing ordeal of Solomon Northup, a free African American kidnapped in the North and impressed into slavery in Louisiana, is one of the most compelling and detailed slave narratives in existence. "There must have been some misapprehension--some unfortunate mistake," writes Northup. "It could not be that a free citizen of New York, who had wronged no man, nor violated any law, should be dealt with thus inhumanly." As an educated man, torn from freedom and plunged into slavery, he brings into exact clarity the life and labor of slaves in the antebellum American South, the complex economic choices and ironic moral concessions of slaveholding, and the calamitous effect of slavery on the foundations of civilization. Throughout his horrific imprisonment, Solomon Northup resists the urge to laud himself as an exemplary character or focus solely on his own experience, giving contemporary readers a remarkable and complex account of the lives of the slave community as a whole. A bestseller when it was first published, Twelve Years a Slave remains today a stunning American odyssey.