The years leading up to the Civil War were tumultuous ones. John's Brown's raid on the Federal armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia served as a flash point for what was to follow. Tony Horwitz has delved into this fascinating slice of history with his usual reportorial zest.
Brown was opposed to slavery. Violently opposed. A deeply religious man, Brown's interpretation of the Bible left no doubt in his mind that slavery was wrong. He was willing to give his life for the abolitionist cause. And he was willing to sacrifice the lives of others as well.