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John Brown

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  188 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
A moving cultural biography of abolitionist martyr John Brown, by one of the most important African-American intellectuals of the twentieth century.

In the history of slavery and its legacy, John Brown looms large as a hero whose deeds partly precipitated the Civil War. As Frederick Douglass wrote: "When John Brown stretched forth his arm ... the clash of arms was at hand.
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 21st 2010 by Modern Library (first published January 1st 1972)
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Donna Davis
The class I took in college that featured John Brown as a small figure in American contemporary history dismissed him fairly quickly. He meant well, but was not stable, they said; in the end, he took extreme, hopeless measures that were destined for doom. He remained a hero to Black families (they admitted), South and North alike, as the first Caucasian man who was willing to die for the rights of Black people. Whereas many White folks (those with enough money for a fireplace and a portrait to g ...more
Dec 24, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: white people, antiracists, prison abolitionists, direct action proponents
My only knowledge of John Brown prior to reading several books on him in the last year was that he had been a overzealous and unrealistic idealist that led a raid on Harper's Ferry to try to spark a slave rebellion. Reading more details about his planning and overall plan show the historical inaccuracies in the standard narrative of both John Brown and of the abolitionist movement, specifically that the there was a wide range of opinion (from the pacifist educationalism of Garrison to the milita ...more
Geoff Sebesta
This is the definitive work on Brown. If you had to read only one book on the subject, this would be it.

Du Bois manages to do what no other biographer has done, and I've read about a dozen books on Brown. Du Buois manages to place the man in context. After all, there are a whole lot of John Browns out there, and it takes some doing to explain why this one is different. He starts back in the Revolutionary War, with Brown's parents, and follows him through his life and the deforming effect that 19
Mar 13, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of John Brown. History tends to paint him as some kind of murderous rebel, but Du Bois correctly shows he was a patriot hoping to fight a guerilla war to free America's slaves.
Jul 06, 2014 Mac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts slow, but once Kansas starts bleeding, things start picking up. A judicious but passionate investigation of one of the most important men in the most important periods in American history.
W.E.B. DuBois' voice is also always a pleasure to read, and his theoretical considerations at the end have profound resonance in our day as well.
Sep 20, 2013 Dont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: freedom
For their second gathering, the leaders of the anti-racist Niagara Movement chose to convene on the campus of Storer College in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia in 1906. Two days after the conference attendees marched barefoot to the "hallowed ground" of John Brown's 1859 raid to free enslaved Americans, W.E.B. Du Bois read his famous "Address to the Country." The choice of location for the important conference that would help set the stage for the founding of the NAACP, the somber promenade to vis ...more
Sarah Crawford
Oct 26, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very complete, very through book on John Brown. It covers his entire life and just what kind of person he was and how this led to the assault on Harper's Ferry. The introduction talks about slave revolts, the revolution in Haiti, a race riot in Atlanta in 1906 and other similar things. The preface establishes a chronology for Brown's life and how, when he was quite young, he saw a slave abused.

As an adult his financial life was damaged by various crashes and 'panics' in the world of mo
I've always been intrested in John Brown and the Raid on Harper's Ferry. I have ancestors who were involved with Brown (though not the raid) and my parents are buried across from Edwin Coppoc who was executed for taking part in it. My gguncle brought Coppoc's body back to Salem, Ohio. I've also not read a lot of W E B DuBois, and as a trained historian I should. So I took this opportunity to catch up a bit.

From all reports, this is not one of DuBois's best books. He wrote it over a long period
Michael VanZandt
Conflicted with this book. This was the work of which Du Bois was most proud. I'm less impressed. It is dated in its history. It lacks the academic integrity of contemporary historical books. Rarely does he provide footnotes. For Du Bois, it is clear that his attention is drawn to the present and future, rather than the past.

In the end, it is a propaganda piece and through the -- at times -- laboring narrative springs Du Boisian wisdom and philosophy. As the book is closing, Du Bois unwraps the
Maughn Gregory
"John Brown taught us that the cheapest price to pay for liberty is what it costs today" (p. 237).

John Brown's method of principled violence against entrenched systems of violent injustice must be taken seriously in dialogue with the non-violent methods of the Quakers, Gandhi and King. Du Bois brings beautiful writing and careful analysis to this pivotal episode in US history. And his concluding essay turning social Darwinism on its head is brilliant.

"These were the men - idealists, dreamers, so
Heath Schultz
Jul 15, 2008 Heath Schultz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
W.E.B. Dubois gives a nice depiction of John Brown, radical slave abolitionist. Dubois does a nice job surveying the resources available to him, and providing a lot of primary documentation, simultaneously contextualizing Brown's actions approx. 50 years later. Dubois refuses to take the easy way out and say Brown was important, but disagrees with his militant stance and sometimes violent actions, instead defending Brown and his raid on Harper's Ferry, insisting that is was the "beginning of the ...more
Sep 16, 2010 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The well done biography of John Brown. Du Bois does not believe or portray John Brown as a murdering fanaticaly madman, that too often he is portrayed as. Brown was a man looking to end the wrong of slavery and he felt that the end had to come violently. The last chapter about the legacy of John Brown is a thinly vieled excuse for Du Bois to express his own opinions on how the world should be different in terms of race relations. Although, this was published in 1909, it is still readable and app ...more
Larry Lamar Yates
DuBois wrote critical historical works of our nation, including this one about John Brown, and also carried out more than one crucial task in the Black liberation struggle. John Brown, is present every time a white citizen of the U.S.A. considers what is to be done, and what was not done, to end exploitation based on race.
Oct 11, 2013 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The part at the end, that was added after the book was written, about how john brown would have loved the Soviet Union was cool
Kimberly Uhuru
A good history of Brown's life and the period immediately preceding the Civil War.
John Graham
Jan 07, 2011 John Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written biography of a fascinating man.
Sep 06, 2008 Noah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to see the historic figure of John Brown through DuBois's lens.
Great read, Great guy!
Dr.  Toxic
And I thought my Catholic parents were strict. I wouldn't ever want this guy as my dad. Go John Brown!!!
Jan 15, 2011 anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Craig Bolton
John Brown (Modern Library Classics) by W.E.B. Du Bois (2001)
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In 1868, W.E.B. Du Bois (William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, pronounced 'doo-boyz') was born in Massachusetts. He attended Fisk College in Nashville, then earned his BA in 1890 and his MS in 1891 from Harvard. Du Bois studied at the University of Berlin, then earned his doctorate in history from Harvard in 1894. He taught economics and history at Atlanta University from 1897-1910. The Souls of Black ...more
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