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John Brown, Abolitionist by David S. Reynolds

John Brown is a historical figure whose legacy finds him to be a combination of zealot, abolitionist, lunatic, and a man eager to use violence as an end to his means. David S. Reynolds, sympathetic to John Brown's history, tries to show John Brown as a man, the forces that guided his actions, and the impact his actions had on a nation as a whole. He was the son of a abolitionist Calvinist father who instilled a fiery sense of justice and equality in him. John Brown was so convinced of the moral superiority of the cause that he believed that slavery could only be "purged away with blood." He and his sons killed men in Kansas in fights against pro-slavery forces. His raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry was supposed to ignite an armed rebellion of the slaves in the South. John Brown is most often seen either as a hero for freedom or a terrorist who used violence to to further his religious zealotry. John Brown, Abolitionist has received mostly positive reviews with the San Francisco Chronicle says, "John Brown's memory is as polarizing today as it was in 1859, and Reynolds' impeccably written and scholarly biography will surely serve to provoke more argument."
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San Francisco Chronicle review by Chuck Leddy

Washington Post review by David W. Blight

New Yorker review by Adam Gopnik

Seattle Times review by John C. Walter

New York Times review by Barbara Ehrenreich

David S. Reynolds
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