12 Years a Slave, the fictional adaptation of Solomon Northrup’s 1853 autobiography by the same name, has been getting a lot of attention of late. Northrup was a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. For twelve years he was enslaved in Louisiana before he was set free. The film is directed by Steve McQueen.
Over at The New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, reflects on historians, slave narratives, and the film. Here is a taste: