Midnight Rising

John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. Holt. Oct. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9780805091533. $28. CD: Macmillan Audio.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of such gems as Confederates in the Attic , Horwitz reconstructs the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry led by John Brown. Horwitz has the grace to capture this telling moment in American history and its far-ranging consequences. Expect demand, and look for the author on the "Truth or Dare" panel at LJ 's Day of Dialog.
Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author, presents a gripping narrative of Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry that in many ways set the stage for Southern secession and civil war. Horwitz brings all his gifts of character building and storytelling to Brown's rise and self-promotion as an instrument of a supposed God-ordained command to purge with blood the land of the sin of slavery. Horwitz also speculates on motivations, especially his unproven suggestion that Brown did not care whether his raid failed because his real purpose was sowing terror and dying nobly. In his martyrdom, Brown sought to steel Northerners to stand up against the Southern slavers' power and make Southerners fear for their lives. In that, Brown succeeded brilliantly. Other recent biographies, especially David S. Reynolds's fine John Brown, Abolitionist, provide ample details on Brown and his time, but Horwitz surpasses all in his sensitive probing of Brown's mind and soul and in his attention to those who supported Brown.
VERDICT Horwitz's Brown did not die in vain. By recalling the drama that fired the imagination and fears of Brown's time, Midnight Rising calls readers to account for complacency about social injustices today. This is a book for our time. [See Prepub Alert, 4/11/11.]—Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

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