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Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Great Read! What your history books left out about Harper's Ferry

For someone who has grown up in Pennsylvania, close to Gettysburg, and has visited numerous Civil War battlefields, a visit to Harper's Ferry seemed like a waste of time. Wow was I wrong. After having visited the small yet historically important town a number of times, ...
For someone who has grown up in Pennsylvania, close to Gettysburg, and has visited numerous Civil War battlefields, a visit to Harper's Ferry seemed like a waste of time. Wow was I wrong. After having visited the small yet historically important town a number of times, I was drawn toward this book as soon as it was released. How did the stars align for this one man with some family and friends to take over the U.S. Armory and thus stoke the fire that would shortly thereafter lead to the Civil War? John Brown does not get much attention in the history books and when he does, he is portrayed as an eccentric and lunatic. Yet what is rarely spoken of is that in the end of the day, he realized what America would come to realize. There would be no bloodless cease to slavery like in Britain, only a great struggle amongst brothers could ultimately destroy this wicked institution. No one really took the time to dig deep into his life and plot the points that led to his ultimate demise in 1859...until now. Mr. Horwitz does a phenomenal job of painting the picture of this deeply spiritual (Puritan and Calvinist leaning) man who ultimately become possessed by a mission, a mission to bring about the end of the great evil of American slavery. While misguided in implementation, his anger and cause were just. Having read this book, you will gain a new appreciation for what happened that fateful night in 1859 and how it was the impetus for southern succession and the Civil War which followed in 1861. Thank you Mr. Horwitz for reclaiming an oft forgotten, under-appreciated and misunderstand piece of American history. With it, we can now better understand this vitally significant time period in our nation's history.

posted by 8644655 on November 1, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

interesting but misleading

Recommend for serious civil war buffs only. skillfully recounts the events but unfortunately, casts John Brown in a heroic manner. It is especially upsetting when he compares Brown's violent treason with the peaceful succession of southern states. Perhaps, the author...
Recommend for serious civil war buffs only. skillfully recounts the events but unfortunately, casts John Brown in a heroic manner. It is especially upsetting when he compares Brown's violent treason with the peaceful succession of southern states. Perhaps, the author is now writing a book extolling the noble heroism of Osama Bin Laden.

posted by 18092843 on October 3, 2013

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  • Posted November 22, 2011

    John Brown Is In Everyone's Attic

    A noted black historian looked back on the historiography concerning John Brown's life, his murders, his kidnappings, his armed insurrection and his execution for treason against the state of Virginia. He noted that many historians concluded that Brown was insane and an impractical, if not a stupid, terrorist. What makes Brown impossible to understand, the historian noted, is also what makes Brown understandable to blacks. Brown was willing to risk his life and was willing to die to set blacks free from slavery. For John Brown, slavery was a war against blacks and it was a war that started along time before Brown himself was born.

    Since the 1980s John Brown has become understandable. Stephen Oates' To Purge This Land With Blood and David S. Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights have reignited interest in Brown's life of violence. Tony Horwitz's Midnight Rising: John Brown And The Raid That Sparked The Civil War describes John Brown as expanding his sense of self from childhood through his execution and his death. Indeed, Horwitz finds suspense in Brown's wrestling, and at times failing, to become a successful family man, a prosperous businessman, an industrious community member and an accepted authority in a faith community.

    John Brown cannot be understood without the context of America from 1800 to 1860, an era when multiple American revolutions were happening: political, industrial, transportation, religious, agricultural and economic. Brown was caught up in them all. Horwitz concisely acknowledges the state of the Union during these decades and recognizes the national trends that are causing havoc in Brown's life.

    During the morning of Decemeber 2 1859John Brown wrote the following message: 'I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself, that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.' Brown was hanged that day and a year later, South Carolina was in the midst of seceding from the Union.

    Much like the December 2 note, Horwitz shows Brown evolving into the role of a public martyr. Smoothly written, well paced and at times dramatic, Horwitz takes Brown seriously as a man who wrestles with his own failures and the failures of his nation. The author does not over dramatize the story. The characters around Brown are unique and engaging without a writer's help. Thankfully Horowitz avoids bringing forth into his John Brown story such currents events as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Such remarks have marred the Emory Thomas¿ 'Dogs of War' and have already dated Louis P. Masur's 'A Concise History of the Civil War'.

    Readers of David Reynolds¿ 'John Brown' and Stephen Oates' 'To Purge This Land With Blood' are encouraged to return to Horwitz¿s John Brown. Like Reynolds and Oates, Horwitz offers an engaging, multi-dimensional and compelling biography of a puzzling character who makes trouble for nearly all readers. Those familiar with Horwitz's 'Confederates in the Attic' will find a character who would not have believed that the Civil War started on April 12 1861, but had started many decades before.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    Wow! What a read. Extremely well written. I could not put it down. Each page carried me through this history that I never new anything about. Mr. Horwitz is a fine author and made this part of our American history very interesting and exciting. John Brown definately had an agenda and the entire story was a really great read. This one is a keeper and to be read again. I read it to my husband and he was very enthralled with the book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Awesome book

    A thorough and fascinating look at the catalyst for the Civil War

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    The truth revealed

    Oh my, I am so excited about this read, I am going to read every thing I can find about Mr Brown and Harpers Ferry

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2014

    Loved this book!!

    Very informative and well written. 2 thumbs up

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014

    ABOUT TIME: THE RISING

    Sorry guys, book two is actually at 'time winter'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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