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To Purge This Land with Blood

Biography of John Brown. Torchbooks

By (author) Stephen B. Oates
Format: Paperback
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States
Imprint: Joanna Cotler Books
Published: 30th Jun 1972
Dimensions: w 130mm h 190mm
ISBN-10: 0061316555
ISBN-13: 9780061316555
Barcode No: 9780061316555

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Kirkus US
A full-scale biography of Brown based on original research, "neither an indictment nor a eulogy" of that "messianic, paradoxical, and essentially tragic man," this draws upon and neatly integrates contemporary letters, diaries, journals, newspapers, published reports, and recollections of eyewitnesses to recreate his life and the context of his times in remarkable detail. Part One covers the fifty-five years of his career before he embarked for bleeding Kansas and national notoriety/fame. Intensely Calvinist by upbringing, Brown was "an austere, tense young man, stiff as a New England deacon, utterly humorless, and so fixed in his ways that he would not bend for anybody." A perpetual failure in business enterprises in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York, he brought up a burgeoning family with stringent discipline and espoused the cause of abolitionism with obsessive fervor. By 1837 he had vowed to consecrate his life to the destruction of slavery, and before long he was quoting from Hebrews 9, that "almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." In 1855 he settled with five of his sons in Kansas to help win the divided state for freedom. Part Two records his activities there as fiery leader of an antislavery band and self-appointed instrument of a wrathful God. Late in 1857, Brown began recruiting men for an ambitious secret scheme to strike against slavery in the South itself, and Part Three details the hatching, preparation, execution, and tragic conclusion of the Harper's Ferry raid. Oates accepts Brown's sincerity and his fanaticism, but won't be pinned down on the issue of insanity: "The evidence regarding Brown's alleged 'insanity' is too partisan and controversial for use in clinical analysis." A major study that resurrects the man who's been obscured by the legend. (Kirkus Reviews)