Book Talk: The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom
with H. W. Brands
John Brown was a charismatic and deeply religious man who heard the God of the Old Testament speak to him, telling him to destroy slavery by any means. When Congress opened Kansas territory to slavery in 1854, Brown raised a band of followers to wage war, embracing violence for his cause. Ambitious Illinois lawyer and former officeholder Abraham Lincoln saw a different solution to slavery: politics. In contrast to Brown, Lincoln spoke cautiously and dreamed big, yet his prudence could not protect him from the vortex of violence Brown had set in motion. By the time Lincoln won election as president, the time for moderation had passed, and Lincoln’s fervent belief that democracy could peacefully resolve the nation’s moral crises faced its ultimate test. Gifted storyteller H. W. Brands narrates the epic struggle over slavery as embodied by these two men, each moved to radically different acts to confront our nation’s gravest sin.
New York Times-bestselling author H. W. Brands holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his Ph.D. in history in 1985. He has authored 30 books on U.S. history, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography for The First American and Traitor to His Class.