Summary: Nuanced children’s history for a difficult figure.
A couple weeks ago a friend posted on facebook about a new graphic novel about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was interested and while looking at the author’s other books, I saw a used copy of John Brown: His Fight for Freedom. I had just finished reading the section on John Brown in the new biography of Frederick Douglass by David Blight and was interested.
John Brown is a difficult figure and I was interested how he would be handled in a children’s book. (Ted Olsen in a twitter response to this review, suggested that he thought of this an illustrated biography for adults and not a children’s book. Which does make sense. He also suggested that Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War as a follow up book.)
I have not read any extensive works on him, so the sections on John Brown from Frederick Douglass’ biography that I just read and the Harriet Tubman biography that I read earlier this year are my main sources outside of Hendrix’s book.
John Brown was a religious zealot and radical abolitionist. You cannot talk about John Brown without understanding that he felt it appropriate as a Christian to use violence on behalf to freeing slaves that he felt were being held sinfully in slavery.