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Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz

Midnight Rising (2011)

by Tony Horwitz

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This was an interesting short book dealing with John Brown and his actions against slavery in the 1850s. The first hundred pages deals with Brown's upbringing and his actions in Kansas during the "Bloody Kansas" period. The rest of the book deals with the lead up to Harper's Ferry, the actual events, and then the aftermath. I like how the author introduced the many characters of these events. He was fair in his treatment of all of them, explaining their views and passions, but never excusing the violence and actions at Harper's Ferry.

I think the book was extended a bit longer than it needed to be to cover what happened, but I can understand the need to make the story book length. I am better for knowing more about Brown and the reactions of both the North and the South to him. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
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 vote Daniel.Estes | Oct 18, 2016 |
Tony Horwitz, one of my favorite authors, presents a compelling history of John Brown and his followers and the keystone event of their raid on Harpers Ferry. Brown's life and family are discussed from childhood, to his involvement in Utopian abolition movements, and their targeted assassinations of pro-slavery advocates in "Bleeding Kansas." It's eerie that the rhetoric and tactics of Brown and his followers while targeting the noble cause of abolition still resemble those of today's Tea Party/2nd Amendment activists.The raid on Harpers Ferry took considerable planning and secrecy, although curiously it is uncertain what result Brown expected. Did he really expect it to spark a nation-wide uprising, or did he intend a blood sacrifice? Similarly, his changes in tactics during the raid itself contradict the planning. What's interesting is that while the raid was widely condemned, even by ardent abolitionists, Brown's real influence came in his words and letters while in jail and on trial. Even people who despised Brown and all he stood for came to admire his bravery and determination. Horwitz's book is an interesting account on this key event in American history and the ripples it would have throughout the country. ( )
1 vote Othemts | May 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tony Horwitzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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"
To Nathaniel and Bisu,
my in-house insurrectionists
First words
(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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080509153X, Hardcover)

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Library Journal Top Ten Best Books of 2011
A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011

Bestselling 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Chronicles the 1859 raid by radical abolitionist John Brown on Harpers Ferry, revealing how his acts, deemed terrorism by the South, prompted a counterattack by Robert E. Lee and galvanized Northern supporters during Lincoln's election campaign.

» see all 3 descriptions

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