Midnight Rising: Book summary and reviews of Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz

Midnight Rising

John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

By Tony Horwitz

Midnight Rising
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2011,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

Bestselling author Tony Horwitz tells the electrifying tale of the daring insurrection that put America on the path to bloody war.

Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown's uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict.

Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America's founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy. On October 17, the raiders seized Harpers Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown's capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown's dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called "a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale."

Tony Horwitz's riveting book travels antebellum America to deliver both a taut historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided - a time that still resonates in ours.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Horwitz smartly gives priority to the deeds themselves in this dramatic saga of an American white man who acted, rather than just talked, as if ending slavery mattered." - Publishers Weekly

"A crisply written but not entirely original retelling of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry." - Kirkus Reviews

"Horwitz has the grace to capture this telling moment in American history and its far-ranging consequences..." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Tony Horwitz Author Biography

© Gerrit Fokkema

Tony Horwitz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for many years as a reporter, first in Indiana and then during a decade overseas in Australia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, mostly covering wars and conflicts as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. After returning to the U.S., he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and worked as a staff writer for The New Yorker before becoming a full-time author.

Four of his books have been national and New York Times bestsellers: A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without A Map. His other work includes Mississippi Wood, a documentary on PBS about Southern loggers; The ...

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