John Brown, Abolitionist by David S. Reynolds
The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

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A cultural biography of John Brown, the controversial abolitionist who used violent tactics against slavery and single-handedly changed the course of American history. Reynolds brings to life the Puritan warrior who gripped slavery by the throat and triggered the Civil War. Reynolds demonstrates that Brown’s most violent acts—including his killing of proslavery settlers in Kansas and his historic raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia--were inspired by the slave revolts, guerilla warfare, and revolutionary Christianity of the day. He shows how Brown seized public attention, polarizing the nation and fueling the tensions that led to the Civil War. Reynolds recounts how Brown permeated American culture during the Civil War and beyond, and how he planted the seeds of the civil rights movement by making a pioneering demand for complete social and political equality for America’s ethnic minorities.

About David S. Reynolds

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David S. Reynolds is the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Walt Whitman's America and a Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the City University of New York. He lives on Long Island.
Published July 29, 2009 by Vintage. 594 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for John Brown, Abolitionist

Kirkus Reviews

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He states unequivocally that Brown’s tactics were terrorist (and an inspiration to John Wilkes Booth), but in President Lincoln’s own words, the Civil War itself was “a John Brown raid on a gigantic scale.” Reynolds’s conclusions are bold yet justified, and his analysis reflects a thorough under...

Feb 01 2005 | Read Full Review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The...

The New York Times

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For David S. Reynolds, John Brown was a reasonable man and a force for change.

Apr 17 2005 | Read Full Review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The...

Publishers Weekly

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In the very first paragraphs of this biography, Bancroft Prize–winner Reynolds (Walt Whitman's America ) steps back a bit from the grandiose claims of h

Feb 07 2005 | Read Full Review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The...

Carlin Romano

(The difficulty is compounded by the fact that even before the sun set on December 2, 1859, apocryphal stories about Brown were already proliferating and insinuating themselves into the narrative about him, including the story–now known to be false–that Brown stooped to kiss a black child on his ...

Dec 02 2008 | Read Full Review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The...

Racism Review

I believe I understand where you are coming from with your statement, “It’s almost like we’re teaching kids and ourselves that blacks can only accomplish anything under the supervision of whites.” I would ask though, “Why can we not honor both blacks and whites for their contribution to racial eq...

Dec 12 2009 | Read Full Review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The...

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