John Brown in Memory and Myth


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About the Book

John Brown’s father on the day of his birth, May 9, 1800, wrote “John was born one hundred years after his great grandfather. Nothing else very uncommon.” Many years later came the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre, where his uncommon convictions led him and his band of abolitionists to kill five pro-slavery settlers in Franklin County, Kansas. Three years later, Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent trial and execution helped push an already divided nation inexorably toward civil war. This is the story of John Brown, the age he embodied and the myth he became, and how the tragic gravity of his actions transformed America’s past and future. Through biographical narrative, his life and legacy are discussed as a study in metaphor and power and the nature of historical memory.

About the Author(s)

Michael Daigh grew up in Kansas hearing conflicting myths about John Brown. A fighter pilot, he has a BA in psychology from the University of Kansas and an MA in history from the American Military University.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Daigh
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9617-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1812-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Part One: The Lehrejahre  3
1. How the True World Finally Became a Fable  4
2. Rationality Ex Post Facto  9
3. New Millennium Homes  17
4. The Prejudices of Philosophers and Historians  25
5. Peoples and Nations  34
6. The Stillest Hour  47
7. The Land of Education  55
Part Two: The Wanderjahre  66
8. All Too Human  67
9. The Stasis  75
10. Beyond Good and Evil  83
11. Skirmishes of an Untimely Man  94
12. The Return Home  106
13. The Child with the Mirror  116
14. Preparatory Men  129
15. The Convalescent Wanderer  137
Part Three: Dies Irae, Dies Illa  149
16. The Means to Real Peace  150
17. Upon These Stones  157
18. Like Ashes in the Fall  165
19. The Revelation of John Brown  171
20. The Metaphysics of the Hangman  180
21. Where Faith Is Needed  190
22. The History of an Error  202
23. The Last Witness  216
Chapter Notes  231
Bibliography  250
Index  255

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “impressive…exceptionally well written…organized and presented”—Midwest Book Review
  • “this is a fascinating history of a man and his era. It should be read by every serious student of the coming of civil war. This is a most rewarding reading experience, and I recommend it highly”—Civil War News