John Brown: His Fight for Freedom

  • Type: Books
  • By: John Hendrix
  • Age Category: Children
  • Genre: Biography & Memoir
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780810937987
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An exceptional children’s book about an extraordinary American.

Even before his raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, John Brown was a controversial figure. His participation in the bloody Kansas border wars of the mid-1850s led to his vilification by some contemporaries as a murderous traitor, while supporters praised Brown’s willingness to take decisive action in the cause of abolition.

Historians have also been divided on John Brown, especially with regards to his motivations. Many writers have argued that the radical abolitionist was, more or less, insane. Others, while conceding that Brown’s plan to foment a slave revolt was far-fetched, have suggested that his actions were a logical extension of his highly personal, biblically-based version of Christianity. This book, written and illustrated by John Hendrix, generally follows the latter line of argument, presenting Brown as a morally-driven activist who was nonetheless willing to use violence to achieve his goal of destroying slavery.

Hendrix, through his powerful illustrations, does a fine job demonstrating the aspects of Brown’s personality. In one picture, John Brown is shown as a wild prairie tornado, a revolver at his hip and a bunting-draped staff in his hands, descending on the war-ravaged Kansas territory. Yet the book’s cover, which shows Brown carrying a young African-American girl, reminds the reader that this was one of the very few white people of his day who both believed in racial equality and actually practiced it.

This book would be a good choice for elementary-aged young people interested in learning more about this key historical figure whose actions can be seen as a prelude to the American Civil War.