Monday, April 10, 2023

Booknotes: John Brown's Raid

New Arrival:
John Brown's Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War, October 16-18, 1859 by Jon-Erik M. Gilot & Kevin R. Pawlak (Savas Beatie, 2023).

Preceding the momentous 1860 presidential election by just over a year, John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry was a defining moment on the nation's quickening path toward secession and Civil War. Of course, numerous books and articles have been published about Brown's failed insurrection, his subsequent trial and execution, and the meaning of it all. The latest installment of the ECW series, Jon-Erik Gilot and Kevin Pawlak's John Brown's Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War, October 16-18, 1859, revisits those topics and events.

The volume covers the entire story from Brown's abolitionist origins through the nation's sectionally divided response to Brown's failed attempt at instigating a violent slave uprising in Virginia and beyond. In between, the events of the raid itself are recounted in some detail, from planning through suppression, and an additional chapter covers Brown's trial and execution. Supporting the text are eight maps,  numerous photographs (period and modern), and other illustrations.

Two raid-related tours, a walking tour of Harpers Ferry's lower town and a driving tour of sites from the surrounding area (including Charles Town/Charlestown, where Brown was jailed, tried, and executed), can be found in the appendix section. Another appendix contains photos and capsule biographies of Brown's raiders, their stories and fates often overshadowed by those of Brown and his sons. Finally, a suggested reading list is provided for those seeking to explore Brown-related topics at greater depth. Though it looks like they haven't added it yet, footnotes will be available at the ECW digital repository.

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