Reviews

"There's a brilliance to this book that put me in mind of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, only Horwitz's Midnight Rising is set deeper in America's dark past. With stunning, vivid detail, he has captured the sheer drama and tragedy of John Brown and that bloody raid at Harper's Ferry that helped propel America toward civil war."

—Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts

"Engrossing... [Horwitz's] vivid biographical portrait of Brown gives us an American original: a failed businessman and harsh Calvinist with a soft spot for the oppressed and a murderous animus against oppressors... Brown's raiders—a motley crew of his sons and various idealists, adventurers, freedmen, and fugitive slaves—come alive as a romantic, appealing bunch; their agonizing deaths give Horwitz's excellent narrative of the raid and shootout a deep pathos."

Publishers Weekly

"Superb and amply researched... [Horwitz] renders with empathy and insight the lives of the individuals Brown touched, whether they were family members, victims, or the idealistic raiders who followed him to Harpers Ferry... Brown's raiders thus appear more human, poignant, and fallible and the whole venture more noble, futile, benighted, heroic, and sadder than heretofore."

American Scholar

"A gripping narrative of Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry that in many ways set the stage for Southern secession and civil war. Horwitz brings all his gifts of character building and storytelling to Brown's rise and self-promotion... Horwitz's Brown did not die in vain. By recalling the drama that fired the imagination and fears of Brown's time, Midnight Rising calls readers to account for complacency about social injustices today. This is a book for our time."

Library Journal (starred)

"Lucid and compelling... The author's archival sleuthing pays off with a rich narrative."

Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully written and sparkling with fresh insights, Midnight Rising resurrects the multiple faces of John Brown: avenging angel or murderous terrorist; slavery's nemesis or deluded fanatic; abolitionist hero or subversive insurrectionist. In this thrilling, magnificent and essential book, Tony Horwitz shows how one man and a single event set the nation on a doomed course where the crimes of a guilty land could only be purged by blood."

—James L. Swanson, author of Manhunt and Bloody Crimes

"Tony Horwitz's gifts as a vivid narrator of dramatic events are on full display in this story of John Brown's wars in Kansas and his climactic Harpers Ferry raid in 1859. Brown's family and the men who joined him in these fights against slavery receive a more fully rounded treatment than in any other account. Of special note is the discussion of Brown's self-conscious emulation of Samson by pulling down the temple of bondage and dying a martyr in its ruins."

—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"Midnight Rising is a deeply compelling work, richly researched and elegantly written. The events surrounding the raid on Harpers Ferry-and the complex character of John Brown himself-come vividly to life in Tony Horwitz's irresistibly readable account."

—Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello

"Tony Horwitz knows how to tell a story, and here his considerable gifts as a writer bring John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry alive in a style that is just as electric as its subject."

—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and First Family

"With his customary blend of rich archival research, on-location color, and lyrical prose, Tony Horwitz has delivered a John Brown book for our time. Part biography, part historical narrative, Midnight Rising is a riveting re-creation of the Harpers Ferry Raid, told with an unblinking sense of Brown's tragic place in American history. Writing with enveloping detail and a storyteller's verve, Horwitz shows why Brown was-and still is-so troubling and important to our culture."

—David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era

"Horwitz has given us a hard-driving narrative of one of America's most troubling historical figures... riveting detail... it's impossible to read this fine book without thinking about the modern-day Browns, soldiers of a vengeful God, seeking righteousness in a fierce burst of violence."

New York Times

"Masterful...both page-turning and heartbreaking - a book to engage mind and soul."

Boston Globe

"Horwitz, an exceptionally skilled and accomplished journalist, here turns his hand to pure history with admirable results. "Midnight Rising" is smoothly written, thoroughly researched, places Brown within the context of his time and place, and treats him sensitively but scarcely adoringly."

Washington Post

"A richly detailed and engaging history...Horwitz's moment-by-moment account of the doomed raid unfolds with such immediacy that he reintroduces suspense to a story we all know from textbooks."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Fascinating and touching... suspenseful and heart-wrenching."

Christian Science Monitor

--

back to top