The author, a feature writer for the New York World Telegram and Sun, has attempted, in this detailed account of the abortive raid on Harper's Ferry, to establish the event as ""one of the noblest blows ever to be struck for decency and right"". He traces the erratic career of John Brown, that professional agitator, who failed at virtually everything he had undertaken since his boyhood, who had a multitude of trades, but who never found his ""mission"" until he discovered the cause of anti-slavery. Brown had operated an Underground Railroad; had fought, along with his sons, in Bloody Kansas; and a year before Harper's Ferry, had held a constitutional convention in Canada, had drawn up a body of laws for the ""Provisional Government of the U.S."" and had named himself commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Harper's Ferry in Virginia on the Potomac was then the fitting culmination, in every respect, of John Brown's fitful life. He and his band panicked the town, where a U.S. arsenal and armory was located, for 32 hours before President Buchanan's dispatched troops, under Lee and Jeb Stuart, could apprehend those raiders who were still alive. Brown and his few remaining compatriots were tried for treason and murder and were hanged in 1859. This book purports to be a serious study, while taking the controversial position of championing the half-mad fanatic Brown, who, had he been successful might well have initiated a slave insurrection and worse.