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John Brown (Modern Library Classics)

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John Brown (Modern Library Classics) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. W.E.B. Du Bois was passionately involved in African American freedom struggles, as John Brown had been. What is gained and what is lost when a biographer is associated with the causes for which his subject also fought?

2. Much writing on John Brown has narrowly focused, as parts of his trial did, on whether he was sane. How and why does Du Bois avoid telling Brown's story in such a way? What were the central issues in Brown's life for Du Bois?

3. The great novelist and critic James Baldwin once remarked, "There was something special about John Brown. He attacked the bastions of the federal government-not to liberate black slaves but to liberate a whole country from a disastrous way of life." Baldwin added that, "horrible as it may sound," Brown's raid was an "act of Love." Would Du Bois have agreed with Baldwin? Would you?

4. At his trial, John Brown firmly denied that he had committed the crime of treason. How did he make this argument and why would it have seemed important to him to make it?

5. John Brown was a zealous Christian, the patriarchal head of his family, and an ambitious (if unsuccessful) entrepreneur. How did these roles, today so often identified with political conservatism, help lead him to Harper's Ferry?

6. Literature about success in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries stressed that good things happen to deserving people. John Brown's life, even on Du Bois's sympathetic account, was filled with financial disaster, family tragedy, illness and death, deep sadness, and military defeat. It ended with execution. How does Du Bois nonetheless make a case for Brown's not being a failure? In what specific ways did Brown's vision and "soul" triumph?

7. Discuss Frederick Douglass's decision not to join Brown's raid-what underlies this decision, and how does it inform Douglass's subsequent treatment and assessment of Brown?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679783534
Editor:
Roediger, David R.
Introduction:
Roediger, David R.
Author:
Bois, W. E. B. Du
Author:
Du Bois, W. E. B.
Author:
Roediger, David R.
Publisher:
Modern Library
Location:
New York
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
United States - Civil War
Subject:
Afro-americans
Subject:
African Americans
Subject:
Abolitionists
Subject:
Abolitionists -- United States.
Subject:
Brown, John,
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Modern Library Classics
Series Volume:
no. A-133
Publication Date:
20010731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.04x5.20x.67 in. .56 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Political
History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction
History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

John Brown (Modern Library Classics) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 304 pages Modern Library - English 9780679783534 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A moving cultural biography of abolitionist martyr John Brown, by one of the most important African-American intellectuals of the twentieth century.

In the history of slavery and its legacy, John Brown looms large as a hero whose deeds partly precipitated the Civil War. As Frederick Douglass wrote: "When John Brown stretched forth his arm ... the clash of arms was at hand." DuBois's biography brings Brown stirringly to life and is a neglected classic.

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