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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling 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.
©2011 Tony Horwitz (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
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Customer Reviews

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By Lynn on 06-18-12

Up from Obscurity

I had not really thought about Harpers Ferry since college. Then I encountered Tony Horwitz’s Midnight Rising. I choose books about topics unfamiliar to me and this book was a great choice. First, Horwitz approaches his subject with the freshness of a student discovering an issue for the first time. He certainly does his homework. The Horwizt tale of John Brown’s raid is so rich that I wonder how I missed the wonder of the story the first time it was introduced to me. For many this story is simply ‘Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave, while weep the sons of bondage who he ventured all to save’ and so on. I assume Civil War buffs are conversant, but the story has faded largely into general obscurity. Horwitz refers to John Brown and Abraham Lincoln as ‘bookends to the Civil War.’ Brown’s contribution should receive wider appreciation and Horwitz has done his part to bring this about. The reading of Dan Oreskes ads vitality.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

By William on 12-14-12


By far the best version of John Brown and the Harpers Ferry raid I have ever read. Much better detail. The author puts the raid in context with the times and in relation to several other catalytic events that preceded the Civil War. I am well read on the Civil War but learn quite a bit from this story. Great narration which is key to all auidobooks!!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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By Lord Peridot on 07-03-17

Excellent account of this important subject

The author skillfully weaves much research on John Brown into a compelling and fascinating account of his life long struggle against slavery culminating in the Harpers Ferry raid which resulted in his arrest, trial and execution. Its the years preceding the raid and the consequences of the raid that make Brown such an interesting and important person. Throughout, the author writes with a deft touch, introducing each of many characters with brief descriptions and colourful incidental material which brings the story alive. The reader also does a brilliant job, subtly intoning the words of each character, not least Brown himself. Oreskes is clearly a very talented actor.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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