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Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War (2011)

von Tony Horwitz

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6843426,042 (4.04)62
In this book the author tells the 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, this work portrays Brown's uprising 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 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." This book travels antebellum America to deliver both a historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided, a time that still resonates in ours.… (mehr)
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The best part of this book is the summation of John Brown's origins and life history up to the Harper's Ferry raid. Readable and engaging! John Brown is a fascinating mixture of Calvinist humility, anachronistic esteem for non-white people, dedication to the abolition of slavery and the aggression of a chained dog ready to get into the fray. The author points out that he eschewed actual violence until his daddy died. JB refused the polite convention of the day which was tolerance of slavery in the southern states, even by abolitionists in the north. So interesting to read about someone who could not go along to get along. And who, despite his high ideals was ready to knock heads, kill in cold blood and sacrificed a good handful of sons and sons-in-law on the way.

However, the second half of the book is a different experience. The author seems to believe that he must tick off every single recorded event that happened in the days of the raid. That slows everything down to a slog. I waded through it dutifully. Glad to report there is a brief summation at the end that helps restore the earlier sparkling tone. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
"Midnight Rising" makes the point that the John Brown raid on Harper's Ferry was much more significant in terms of national history than I'd ever considered. Before reading this book, I had thought of John Brown as being a religious extremist, half-mad with abolitionist fervor, famous more for the folly of his raid than for his importance in the anti-slavery movement. While Horwitz doesn't do much to change my mind about John Brown himself, he does add depth and breadth about the man and his beliefs.

More importantly, Horwitz discusses the impact the raid had on the national psyche, especially in further separating the abolitionist northerners from slave holding southerners. One of the outcomes of the raid was to inflame the south against the "aggression" of northerners, resulting in speeches and discussions of southern secession from the Union. So by the time of Lincoln's election, the stage was already set for the formation of the Confederacy.
( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
The planning, the execution and the aftermath of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry; a very readable account of a pivotal event and a fascinating, courageous man. ( )
  gbelik | Mar 5, 2018 |
I'm not sure but this book just wasn't one that I was interested in. I listened to the audio book and still didn't find it all that interesting. This book was for our book club and even though we haven't met yet a lot of the members felt it was like reading a text book. ( )
  crazy4reading | Sep 10, 2017 |
My grandfather grew up in Osawatomie, Kansas during the Great Depression, and his recollection was that John Brown was a crazy loon. No doubt this was the consensus gossip from generations of townsfolk still living in the area. After reading Tony Horwitz's Midnight Rising, I now understand why people believe this about John Brown, but to label him crazy is much too simplistic for a deeply complex man whose upbringing was the perfect intersection of time, place and temperament. As asinine as Brown's plans were and wrong-headed his execution, the outcome caused a stir and quite possibly brought the issue of slavery, and with it civil war, to a reckoning years and decades sooner than if John Brown had never existed.

That's a complicated legacy. But it's also why I love history. It's never about Good vs Evil. Save that for the storybooks. No, history is about incentives, prejudice and power. We are who we are because of who our ancestors were. To ignore the truth, or to insist it have a shiny gloss, is a disservice to ourselves. ( )
1 abstimmen Daniel.Estes | Oct 18, 2016 |
Horwitz, an exceptionally skilled and accomplished journalist — his best, and best known, book is “Confederates in the Attic” (1998) — here turns his hand to pure history with admirable results. “Midnight Rising” is smoothly written, thoroughly researched, places Brown within the context of his time and place, and treats him sensitively but scarcely adoringly.
 

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Tony HorwitzHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Oreskes, DanielErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Sometimes there comes a crack in Time itself.
Sometimes the earth is torn by something blind.

Stephen Vincent Benét,
"John Brown's Body"
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To Nathaniel and Bisu,
my in-house insurrectionists
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(Prologue) "Men, get on your arms," the Captain said. "We will proceed to the Ferry."
John Brown was born with the nineteenth century and didn't launch his attack on Virginia until he was nearly sixty.
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In this book the author tells the 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, this work portrays Brown's uprising 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 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." This book travels antebellum America to deliver both a historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided, a time that still resonates in ours.

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