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Introducing "Friends are reading..."

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

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

by Tony Horwitz

2011, Macmillan

Welcome to Friends are reading..., where I'll post reviews by readers I know.

My first guests are the We2 bookclub, members Christine and Bruce, who read Midnight Rising.

Christine: Thumbs up 

John Brown was an absent husband and a failed businessman, but he had an unwavering commitment to abolitionism. A fascinating story of a flawed individual who played a significant role in U.S. history. Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, and his subsequent trial for treason, was the first news story Americans followed in 'real time' thanks to reporters sending updates via telegraph.

Bruce: Thumbs up

John Brown played an important part in U.S. history, but he was not a great role model. He basically deserts his family and gets away with murder in Kansas. Then he takes his sons and others on the raid at Harpers Ferry, which was doomed to failure due to inadequate resources, bad timing and poor planning. "Midnight Rising" is well worth reading. 


Was John Brown mentally ill?

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2 comentários

18 de mar. de 2021

I remember hearing theories that John Brown was mentally ill--did you ever read the book? I would be curious to hear what the author found.

I always considered him to be one of those monomaniacal types, though I remember reading that he truly believed that all men were created equal and extended that belief to Blacks and Native Americans as well. He was really seen as a cult figure in his day (even more so than Lincoln), and was mentioned in a lot of literary works, not to mention song. I believe Victor Hugo tried to get a pardon for him.

I think the negative image people have of him is in large part due to slavery advocates and post-Civil…

25 de mar. de 2021
Respondendo a

Thanks to your comment, I just read the article above regarding John Brown and mental illness. (I don't always read my own links but post them if they seem interesting, then I can read them later!) The article makes sense to me. It doesn't seem he was insane. Also, slavery seems insane but was considered totally logical by many, right? I read a different book about John Brown quite awhile ago. I looked briefly at its outside cover recently (after the above post) and the outside cover said something like, "whereas some people considered John Brown to be crazy, he was far from that..." At any rate, when I get a chance I'll tell you the name of tha…

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