John Brown is a lightning rod of history. Yet he is poorly understood and most commonly described in stereotypes, as a madman, martyr, or enigma. Not until Patriotic Treason has a biography or history brought him so fully to life, in scintillating prose and moving detail, making his life and legacy — and the staggering sacrifices he made for his ideals — fascinatingly relevant to today's issues of social justice and to defining the line between activism and terrorism. Vividly re-creating the world in which Brown and his compatriots lived with a combination of scrupulous original research, new perspectives, and a sensitive historical imagination, Patriotic Treason narrates the dramatic life of the first U.S. citizen committed to absolute racial equality. Here are his friendships (Brown lived, worked, ate, and fought alongside African-Americans, in defiance of the culture around him), his family (he turned his 20 children, by two wives, into a dedicated militia), and his ideals (inspired by the Declaration of Independence and the Golden Rule, he collaborated with black leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Delany, and Harriet Tubman to overthrow slavery).
Evan Carton captures the complex, tragic, and provocative story of Brown the committed abolitionist, Brown the tender yet demanding and often absent father and husband, and Brown the radical American patriot who attacked the American state in the name of American principles. Through new research into archives, attention to overlooked family letters, and reinterpretation of documents and events, Carton essentially reveals a missing link in American history.
"An intriguing portrait." (Booklist)
"Absorbing and inspiring." (Publishers Weekly)
"By book's end, readers will be fully persuaded that the author's provocative opening salvo...[is] true....[A] rare humanizing of an icon....Carton...truly excels at portraying the man himself. A dramatic, expertly paced biography of American history's most problematic figure." (Kirkus Reviews)
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A conflicted would-be hero
- Tad Davis