Best-selling author Tony Horwitz tells the electrifying tale of the daring insurrection that put America on the path to bloody war....
Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown's uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict.
Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America's founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy. On October 17, the raiders seized Harpers Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown's capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown's dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called "a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale." Tony Horwitz's riveting book travels antebellum America to deliver both a taut historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided - a time that still resonates in ours.
©2011 Tony Horwitz (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
I had not really thought about Harpers Ferry since college. Then I encountered Tony Horwitz’s Midnight Rising. I choose books about topics unfamiliar to me and this book was a great choice. First, Horwitz approaches his subject with the freshness of a student discovering an issue for the first time. He certainly does his homework. The Horwizt tale of John Brown’s raid is so rich that I wonder how I missed the wonder of the story the first time it was introduced to me. For many this story is simply ‘Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave, while weep the sons of bondage who he ventured all to save’ and so on. I assume Civil War buffs are conversant, but the story has faded largely into general obscurity. Horwitz refers to John Brown and Abraham Lincoln as ‘bookends to the Civil War.’ Brown’s contribution should receive wider appreciation and Horwitz has done his part to bring this about. The reading of Dan Oreskes ads vitality.
I've read a ton of Civil War books and was familiar with John Brown's raid and the importance of it but I didn't know the subject in great detail, which is why I picked up this book.
Simply said it's an excellent book and I think it strikes the right tone. I'm always afraid that whenever the issue of slavery is brought up in a modern book it's going to fall into the PC camp of needing to constantly apologize or into the demonizing / hero worship trap. I never really found any hints of an agenda, which only makes me appreciate the book that much more.
The author does a great job of setting the scene, gives enough of a background on Brown that you know him but keeps the story moving along at a good pace. I felt he covered everything in good detail so even if you didn't know anything about Brown or the aftermath of this raid you'd fully understand what happened, why and why it was later important.
The reader does an equally impressive job -- it's a straight read for the most part but it's very clear, moves at a good pace and I didn't really notice any mistakes or errors.
Overall I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about Brown, or more importantly anyone interested in Civil War books since this is really part of the build up as much as anything else that occurred.
By far the best version of John Brown and the Harpers Ferry raid I have ever read. Much better detail. The author puts the raid in context with the times and in relation to several other catalytic events that preceded the Civil War. I am well read on the Civil War but learn quite a bit from this story. Great narration which is key to all auidobooks!!
Tony Horwitz' detailed account of the doomed raid that sparked the Civil War really is an amazing book. What I appreciated most were all the resources that the author availed of himself to paint a picture of John Brown that makes him less a "madman" and more detailed in three dimensions: resolute, not the best planner, earnest, honest, sincere in his beliefs. I think the rush to justice after his plot failed was just as interesting and speaks to many ways how politics and the media made his place in history more than he ever could. If you haven't listened to "Confederates in the Attic", another wonderful book from Tony Horwitz, I'd recommend it.
Serious scholarship. Great narrative. Great narrator. Fascinating subject. I don't know what's not to like here. Live John Brown or hate him, you can't say that his story is boring. Or irrelevant. I could go oping by point, but I'll put it more succinctly: if you are a lover of American history like me, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It's nearly as important a subject as exists. And his author is one of the very best.
History, craziness, fascinating
I would probably compare them to Tony Horwitz's other books as I find all of them to be interesting reads on history.
You could listen to the things John Brown said, instead of reading it- I think it helped to understand/picture the events.
I was shocked by the sheer stubborn craziness of John Brown and he willingness to lead his sons to take place in violent raids. I hadn't ever realized how bloody and violent John Brown was, I was definitely surprised by the constant use of violence and his virtual abandonment of his family.
I didn't know much about John Brown, so learning about his childhood, role in Bleeding Kansas, his planning and eventual follow through of the raid on Harper's Ferry was fascinating and I would encourage anyone who doesn't know much beyond the basic facts to listen to this book.
This is a well written, well researched book that really gives the reader a feel for all the people involved. The author draws from the letters and writings of John Brown and his followers and brings the people he is writing about alive. I got "to know" the people and why they took the actions that they did.
As an avid reader of all things John Brown and Civil War related, this was a great piece. Horwitz did an excellent job building the foundation of his leading character, Brown. If you find yourself desiring after this book, you could easily play it back and be perfectly content. I would recommend this book to anyone whom enjoys divulging into the creation/separation of this county and what it took to overcome the evil of slavery.
I really enjoy all things Tony Horwitz. This book really is a great history lesson. Much more than I ever learned in US History in school. I was amazed by the detail of the story, and all that it entailed. I am a fan of this period in history, and my curiosity is peaked once again to learn more.
John Brown's religious beliefs were the least interesting.
Yes, I would recommend "The American Civil War" by John Keegan
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