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John Brown (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – July 10, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (July 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679783539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679783534
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This set represents an invaluable assembly of the works of the pioneering African American scholar, activist, and creative genius....The introductions to the individual volumes are written by such distinguished scholars as to make those writings indispensable treasures in their own right. Recommended for all public libraries and essential for every academic institution."--Library Journal (starred review)

"This set is a valuable contribution to African-American scholarship. It has the potential to introduce a new readership to the scope and breadth of a unique and seminal thinker. The works included can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issues now facing contemporary Americans....[A] breathtaking collection."--School Library Journal

"The general introduction and the introductions to each of Du Bois's works form a valuable opus in their own right, as they convey the author's political and social theories and indicate the richness and development of his ideas....The realities of slavery, racism, and segregation in the United States are always at the forefront, making these works (many of them out-of-print) continually pertinent and forceful reading....This set will be an essential addition to public and college libraries."--Reference and Research Book News

"This set will be vital to all large university libraries with collections in African American history and American literature." --American Reference Books Annual

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

A moving cultural biography of abolitionist martyr John Brown, by one of the most important African-American intellectuals of the twentieth century.

In the history of slavery and its legacy, John Brown looms large as a hero whose deeds partly precipitated the Civil War. As Frederick Douglass wrote: "When John Brown stretched forth his arm ... the clash of arms was at hand." DuBois's biography brings Brown stirringly to life and is a neglected classic.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you want to learn about John Brown's life and thought, and about the context and impact of his raid on Harper's Ferry, you should read historian David. S. Reynolds's "John Brown: Abolitionist", a passionate, dispassionate biography of the man and his times. W.E.B. Du Bois wrote his biography of Brown in 1909, at a time when Jim Crow ruled even the profession of history and when Brown was almost universally scorned as a madman and a fanatic. Du Bois wrote of him as a Promethean hero, the "necessary man' of American history. In doing so, he was not the revisionist. Rather, he was reviving the perception of Brown that had prevailed during the Civil War, the perception cultivated by the Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau and by the poets Whitman and Melville. Du Bois's biography is more an eloquent mythic epitaph than a work of simple scholarship. To read it is to understand Du Bois and the demands of African-Americans for respect and social justice, projected onto the one 'white' man of the antebellum Land of the Slave who sincerely shared his humanity with "black" men and women. Du Bois is an eloquent writer; his final chapter, on the Legacy of John Brown, is addressed to the segregationists and colonialists of his own era, but its appeal for justice - sadly - is as pertinent now as then. Here are Du Bois's concluding sentences:

"John Brown taught us that the cheapest price to pay for liberty is its cost today. The building of barriers against the advance of Negro-Americans hinders but in the end cannot altogether stop their progress.... Nor can the efficiency of gree as an economic developer be proven -- it may hasten development but it does so at the expense of solidity of structure, smoothness of motion, and real efficiency.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on February 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Please note that the substance of the following review has been
used in the review of Stephen Oates's book To Purge This Land in Blood reviewed elsewhere (click see all my reviews). Both books offer a good prospective on the life of John Brown and can be profitably read together. Dubois's book is a decent historical narrative of Brown's life from an earlier time and in a more partisan perspective. Oates book reflects more modern academic methods of analysis and research and tackles the weaknesses in other interpretations. In that sense, Oates book is close to the definitive study of John Brown's life. Most importantly, both books reflect a Northern view of Brown exploits previously long absent from the historical record. My review reflects the need to study an important American fighter for justice and for today's generation to learn some lessons from his life.

I would like to make a few comments on the role of Captain John Brown and his struggle at Harper's Ferry in 1859 in the history of the black liberation struggle. This appropriate as I am writing this review during Black History Month of 2006. Unfortunately John Brown continues to remain one of the very few white heroes of the struggle for black liberation.

From fairly early in my youth I knew the name John Brown and was swept up by the romance surrounding his exploits at Harpers Ferry. For example, I knew that the great anthem of the Civil War -The Battle Hymn of the Republic had a prior existence as a tribute to John Brown. I, however, was then neither familiar with the import of his exploits for the black liberation struggle nor knew much about the specifics of the politics of the various tendencies in the struggle against slavery.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. Ragan on August 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
John Brown is often times overlooked as one of America's greatest heroes. His raid on Harper's Ferry was one of the most influential causes for the outbreak of the Civil War. Although the immediate effects of the war were greatly devastating, it hurtled the U.S. over the slavery issue and forward into the future.

Du Bois's biography gives a lengthy & descriptive account of the rebel's life and touched on a lot of info that I was unaware of. Definitely a must-buy for all those studying John Brown specifically, or the Civil War in general.
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By Lady Nell on February 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must read and a very inspiring one. I have not been able to put it down. I have found the time machine of the 20th century and it's called Books!!!
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