John Brown's Spy by Steven Lubet
The Adventurous Life and Tragic Confession of John E. Cook

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John Brown's Spy tells the nearly unknown story of John E. Cook, the person John Brown trusted most with the details of his plans to capture the Harper's Ferry armory in 1859. Cook was a poet, a marksman, a boaster, a dandy, a fighter, and a womanizer—as well as a spy. In a life of only thirty years, he studied law in Connecticut, fought border ruffians in Kansas, served as an abolitionist mole in Virginia, took white hostages during the Harper's Ferry raid, and almost escaped to freedom. For ten days after the infamous raid, he was the most hunted man in America with a staggering $1,000 bounty on his head.

Tracking down the unexplored circumstances of John Cook's life and disastrous end, Steven Lubet is the first to uncover the full extent of Cook's contributions to Brown's scheme. Without Cook's participation, the author contends, Brown might never have been able to launch the insurrection that sparked the Civil War. Had Cook remained true to the cause, history would have remembered him as a hero. Instead, when Cook was captured and brought to trial, he betrayed John Brown and named  fellow abolitionists in a full confession that earned him a place in history's tragic pantheon of disgraced turncoats.


About Steven Lubet

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Steven Lubet is Williams Memorial Professor of Law at Northwestern University, a leading expert in the fields of trial advocacy and legal and judicial ethics, and the author of several books dealing with nineteenth-century criminal cases. He lives in Evanston, IL.
Published November 13, 2012 by Yale University Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Crime, War.

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With sharp portraits of the lawyers, clear explanations of their various machinations and evocative descriptions of the legal proceedings, he brings to life the charges of treason and murder, the pleas for mercy and the poignancy of Cook’s pathetic confessions, insufficient for the prosecution, t...

Sep 25 2012 | Read Full Review of John Brown's Spy: The Adventu...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Almost everyone familiar with the Civil War era knows of John Brown’s infamous raid on Harper’s Ferry, on October 16, 1859, which served as a catalyst for the Civil War.

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