JOHN BROWN: A Cry for Freedom by Lorena Graham

JOHN BROWN: A Cry for Freedom

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The record of John Brown's life, set down without shaping or comment, drama or elaboration. (Thus Graham summarizes Brown's free-stater crusade in Kansas: ""He won in several battles. Sons John Jr. and Jason were arrested, imprisoned, and finally released. John Jr. lost his mind and for a short period seemed to be quite helpless. In the next year attacks on free staters continued. . . ."") In this manner, Graham brings Brown from birth in 1800 to 1855 in the first 50 pages; the remaining 120 take him from Kansas to preparations for Harpers Ferry, the raid itself, and his execution in 1859. The narrative is frequently broken up with quoted descriptions, tributes, and comments from people who knew and met Brown. Graham gives little attention to such questions as Brown's personality and his effect on history, noting merely that ""John Brown has been described as a fanatic and a madman,"" then quoting contemporary observers who attest to the contrary. In an introduction, Graham makes the fuzzy statement that Brown's life ""did indeed help to make this country what it is today,"" and he promises that reading about Brown will help us understand problems of racial inequality today. However, no parallels or applications are brought out in the text. This is neither the rousing life story nor the provocative inquiry that Brown might inspire. However, as an easy-reference chronicle it will serve.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell