- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (August 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312429266
- ISBN-13: 978-0312429263
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 207 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.98 shipping
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War Paperback – August 7, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Inspire a love of reading with Prime Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children's books with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new customers receive 15% off your first box. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“A hard-driving narrative of one of America's most troubling figures… Horwitz describes the disaster in riveting terms… It's impossible to read this fine book without thinking about modern-day Browns.” ―Kevin Boyle, The New York Times Book Review (a New York Times Notable Book, 2011)
“Horwitz's skills are a good match for this enormously compelling character, and his well-paced narrative incorporates masterful sketches of Brown's family, foot soldiers, financial backers, admirers and prosecutors… The result is both page-turning and heartbreaking--a book to engage mind and soul.” ―The Boston Globe
“Horwitz, an exceptionally skilled and accomplished journalist, 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.” ―The Washington Post(Best of 2011, Notable Work of Nonfiction)
“Midnight Rising is a richly detailed and engaging history… Horwitz's moment-by-moment account of the doomed raid unfolds with such immediacy that he reintroduces suspense to a story we all know from textbooks.” ―The San Francisco Chronicle
“Horwitz describes guerrilla action and the run-up to war with a deadline writer's immediacy… A brilliant researcher, he integrates diverse sources into a cogent adventure.” ―The Washington Times
“What do you call John Brown? Is he a terrorist or a freedom fighter? ... Tony Horwitz settles upon the word insurgent -- and the label seems just right, as does Horwitz's book as a whole…” ―Seattle Times
“In captivating detail, Horwitz animates the wild-eyed, long-bearded crusader . . . Make no mistake, the infamous October 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry by John Brown and his 18 men was the stone that began the avalanche that became the Civil Wars.” ―The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A brave and highly successful attempt to revive the legend of Brown's martyrdom for the 21st century reader…. Horwitz's vivid writing style… makes for a superb historical narrative.” ―Buffalo News
“A beautifully crafted, richly detailed, and riveting narrative of a pivotal episode in American history . . . Midnight Rising is at its best reconstructing the lives (and deaths) of the relatively anonymous conspirators – especially the African-Americans.” ―The Florida Courier
“Horwitz's potent prose delivers the facts of this bellwether incident in riveting fashion… It is an absorbing portrait of the often frustrated but passionately driven firebrand who successfully convinced a country of the shame of slavery and, to the South's great regret, earned martyr status in the aftermath of his execution. Brown qualifies as America's first important post-revolution terrorist…" ―Bookpage
“Horwitz's description of the little band of idealists and adventurers who signed on for Brown's offensive – including five black men and two of Brown's own sons – is both fascinating and touching. His careful recreation of the bloody events of October 16, 1859, the day of Brown's disastrous raid on Harpers Ferry, is both suspenseful and heartwrenching.” ―Christian Science Monitor (one of the 15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2011)
“In Midnight Rising, [Horwitz] not only gives us an action-packed adventure story, but also provides detailed historical background and vivid character portraits of the principals involved… Assiduously researched using archival sources, Horwitz's riveting tale is on sound factual footing. And he does a wonderful job of bringing to life the fascinating, messianic leader who, on the way to the gallows, would incite a nation toward civil war.” ―St. Petersburg Times
“Compelling reading.” ―Wichita Eagle
“The lively narrative focuses on the 1859 attack on an armory in Harpers Ferry, W.Va, by Brown and his ragtag followers -- the event credited with lighting the fuse on the deadliest conflict in U.S. history.” ―San Jose Mercury News
“A groundbreaking study of the Harper's Ferry raid that makes a number of fascinating points: Brown was not a madman or a fanatic, he knew his death would serve as a moral lightning rod, and the fallout from his actions has echoed for generations.” ―Oregonian
“Superb and amply researched… [Horwitz] renders with empathy and insight the lives of the individuals Brown touched, whether they were family members, victims, or the idealistic raiders who followed him to Harpers Ferry… Brown's raiders thus appear more human, poignant, and fallible and the whole venture more noble, futile, benighted, heroic, and sadder than heretofore.” ―American Scholar
“Gripping, disturbing and heartbreaking... Horwitz brings all his gifts of character building and storytelling to Brown's rise and self-promotion… 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.” ―Library Journal (a Top Ten Book of the Year, 2011)
“Lucid and compelling… The author's archival sleuthing pays off with a rich narrative.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“[Horwitz's] vivid biographical portrait of Brown gives us an American original: a failed businessman and harsh Calvinist with a soft spot for the oppressed and a murderous animus against oppressors… Brown's raiders--a motley crew of his sons and various idealists, adventurers, freedmen, and fugitive slaves--come alive as a romantic, appealing bunch; their agonizing deaths give Horwitz's excellent narrative of the raid and shootout a deep pathos.” ―Publishers Weekly
“There's a brilliance to this book that put me in mind of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, only Horwitz's Midnight Rising is set deeper in America's dark past. With stunning, vivid detail, he has captured the sheer drama and tragedy of John Brown and that bloody raid at Harpers Ferry that helped propel America toward civil war.” ―Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts
“Tony Horwitz's gifts as a vivid narrator of dramatic events are on full display in this story of John Brown's wars in Kansas and his climactic Harpers Ferry raid in 1859. Brown's family and the men who joined him in these fights against slavery receive a more fully rounded treatment than in any other account. Of special note is the discussion of Brown's self-conscious emulation of Samson by pulling down the temple of bondage and dying a martyr in its ruins.” ―James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“Midnight Rising is a deeply compelling work, richly researched and elegantly written. The events surrounding the raid on Harpers Ferry--and the complex character of John Brown himself--come vividly to life in Tony Horwitz's irresistibly readable account.” ―Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello
“With his customary blend of rich archival research, on-location color, and lyrical prose, Tony Horwitz has delivered a John Brown book for our time. Part biography, part historical narrative, Midnight Rising is a riveting re-creation of the Harpers Ferry raid, told with an unblinking sense of Brown's tragic place in American history. Writing with enveloping detail and a storyteller's verve, Horwitz shows why Brown was--and still is--so troubling and important to our culture.” ―David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era
“Tony Horwitz knows how to tell a story, and here his considerable gifts as a writer bring John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry alive in a style that is just as electric as its subject.” ―Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and First Family
“Beautifully written and sparkling with fresh insights, Midnight Rising resurrects the multiple faces of John Brown: avenging angel or murderous terrorist; slavery's nemesis or deluded fanatic; abolitionist hero or subversive insurrectionist. In this thrilling, magnificent and essential book, Tony Horwitz shows how one man and a single event set the nation on a doomed course where the crimes of a guilty land could only be purged by blood.” ―James L. Swanson, author of Manhunt and Bloody Crimes
About the Author
Tony Horwitz is the bestselling author of Midnight Rising, A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without a Map. He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He lives in Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their two sons.
207 customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
My take away is that John Brown the man was very intelligent but also very irresponsible and egotistical. Somewhat of a charlatan when it came to business ventures as he was always in legal troubles. He did not do an adequate job providing for his wife and very large family. Violent and dogmatic, he was not the type of steadfast, compassionate father figure one would hope have growing up.
His one exceptional redeeming quality seemed to be that he regarded Blacks as co-equals deserving the same rights and privileges he had. This sets him apart from so many other abolitionists of the antebellum period, who wished to end slavery not out of compassion, but out of a desire to end the proliferation of the black race in North America (Lincoln being the most famous of those). One need only look at how Blacks were treated in the north, post Civil War or how all their "northern liberators" treated the Native Americans immediately following the war, to understand the overwhelming motivation behind the anti-slavery movement.
A fairly quick and worthwhile read.
For those who admired Horwitz’s previous books, especially his ability to put himself into the story, be warned that this is a different kind of book. In Confederates in the Attic, Horwitz walked the streets of the South in search of his narrative. For this book, he claims, “walking the footsteps of history is not the same as being there “. He might see the same sights that Brown saw but he sought a more intimate experience. He wished to be inside Brown’s head. This is a tall order. For historical figures, one is limited to reports of a person’s behavior rather than his innermost thoughts. Nevertheless in the process of researching this book, he has attempted to gain insights into the mind of John Brown and he has shared these insights with us. Whether these insights are sufficient to fully explain John Brown is up to the reader to decide.
Horwitz attributed John Brown’s religious convictions as well a propensity to violence to his father who was staunchly religious, a confirmed abolitionist as well as a believer in corporal punishment. John was subjected to his father’s sermonizing and at the same time to his severe beatings. He thus came to believe that violence was an acceptable means to achieving God’s will. Horwiz explains that Brown’s Puritan forbearers “believed that they had a covenant with God to make America a moral beacon to the world...and that slavery was a breach of divine law.” That John Brown sought violence to defend God’s law is understandable and in a sense predictable.
According to Horwitz, Brown began to see violence as the only way to achieve abolition when he learned of Nat Turner’s unbridled and cruel efforts to end slavery. Nat Turner was an African-American slave and minister who was born the same year as John Brown. Turner led a group of slaves on a rampage, resulting in the deaths of 55 white men, women and children. This action resonated with Brown’s religious commitment and baseline violent predisposition. Brown attempted to echo Turner’s actions by his own efforts in Kansas and at Harper’s Ferry. Both Brown and Turner traumatized the country, and helped to ignite regional differences, which eventually erupted into the Civil War.
. Although Horwitz is a journalist by trade, it would be a mistake to believe that the book is simply reporting. Some will recognize the structure of drama in the journalistic report. As one remembers from freshman English, the structure of drama consists of 1) an exposition, during which the characters and issues are introduced, 2) a crisis describing an acting out of the conflicts and 3) a denouement when the conflicts are resolved. Horwitz begins the exposition with a report of the characters. Here the story takes on an epic quality with the description of the Brown family, his two marriages and his 20 children. His father was an influential figure in Brown’s life and helped to shape his belief system. Like his father, John was an avowed abolitionist, but unlike his father he was a “warrior” rather than a pacifist. Most importantly, John inherited his Calvinist beliefs from his father. Calvinism attempts to confront the problem of free will in the face of an omniscient and omnipotent God. As a Calvinist his father taught John that God has a pre-determined plan for everyone. For Calvinists there is no free will, only the will of God. Thus, one must accept the notion that God is responsible for our actions, but does not necessarily approve of them. Approval comes with being chosen as one of God’s elect. The process of election is arbitrary and is independent of the actions of the believer. One can only hope, through faith that one is of God’s chosen. John Brown spent his life searching for this answer.
The crisis consists of the raids in Kansas and finally at Harper’s Ferry. Here Brown modeled his actions on the Old Testament figure of Gideon who was instructed by God to take a small band of men and to destroy the Mideanites at night. Acting out the Gideon story Brown assembled his men for a final bloodletting in Kansas and Harper’s Ferry. His goals were not well formulated, but he hoped to provoke a slave rebellion. The attacks in Kansas accomplished little but to further inflame both sides in “bleeding Kansas.” The attack on Harper’s Ferry is described in detail by Horwitz and represents the culmination of all that preceded it, but is anticlimactic, accomplishing little.
The significance of the Harper’s Ferry raid was not evident at the time. It appeared to represent a minor event ending in failure. Nevertheless it had profound consequences. The attack helped spark the civil war that would come 2 years later. Horwitz concludes “Brown’s dream of arming blacks to fight for their freedom was realized not at Harper’s Ferry but in the trenches of Petersburg and in the low lands of South Carolina.” The midnight raid of John Brown led to the rise of an oppressed people and in so doing gave the nation “ a new birth of freedom.”
. The denouement of this drama is provided in the final chapters, which describe Brown’s execution. It is a this moment that important characters that will shape the future all come together, as if frozen in time: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart and John Wilkes booth. It was by his death, that the meaning of his life was made clear and his influence became manifest. Preparing for his death, Brown is portrayed as serene and at peace with himself. He seemed confident that he would meet his God as one of the elect.
Horwitz began his book with a promise to get inside the head of John Brown. Are we satisfied that he has done that or was he simply reporting what he knew? Perhaps he gets inside the mind of John Brown by telling his story in as a complete a fashion that he could, but he goes beyond the telling of a story, he relates a drama. It is a drama that the whole nation was privy to. One recalls Hamlet who said,” The play’s the thing, wherein we will catch the conscious of the king”. The conscience of the nation was caught by the story of John Brown. Having said that, we wonder whether John Brown was a good man or a bad man. Is it possible for a good man to do bad things and for a bad man to do good things? We once again, turn to Hamlet” There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”