Sunday, January 3, 2010

John Brown: His Fight for Freedom - John Hendrix

Abrams Bks for Young Readers, 2009
40 pgs
for: 3rd grade upward
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Dark Reddish-Brown

I've been to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia many times. Not only is it a small (and quaint) town, but it is also a National Historical Park with fascinating history. It sits on a piece of land where WV, VA, and MD all come together, and where two rivers, the Potomac and Shenendoah, converge. And it is famous for John Brown. But all the information I ever knew about this man was foggy. An abolitionist, yes. But some have called him a madman. A very controversial one. So I was greatly excited to find this book.

It certainly looks like John Hendrix has researched thoroughly and well. He has written - and beautifully illustrated - an intelligent history, making John Brown human, and giving the facts of his thinking and crusading. In a two-page Author's Note he gives his feelings about John Brown, his beliefs and reactions. I found it extremely interesting.

John Brown hated the idea of slavery. He hated the idea that all men were NOT equal. He took it as his life's mission to try to do something to stop slavery in the United States. Although there was an instance in Kansas where, in acute frustration, he was involved in killing people, that does not seem to be a major part in his overall quest. All he wanted to do was stop slavery by amassing by creating an army of black and white believers that could help. Creating an army certainly means war, but I think he realized that it would not be a bloodless fight. Harriet Tubman was one of his biggest supporters and allies!

This book gives a reader great insight into the murky history of John Brown. I liked and appreciated it a lot. And the illustrations - pen and ink with an acrylic wash - greatly added to the telling of this story.

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