John Brown Biographies I Recommend

I am often asked to suggest a John Brown biography to read.  These are the books I recommend.

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John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

By David S Reynolds

This is the number one biography that I recommend. The amount of detail and honest reporting of events that David S. Reynolds brings to the John Brown story is remarkable. Reynold’s respect for the man and the war on slavery shows through on every page. The BEST of the John Brown Biographies.


John Brown: The Man Who Lived

Essays in Honor of the Harper’s Ferry Raid Sesquicentennial 1859-2009

By Louis A. DeCaro, Jr

A collection of 14 essays covering many subjects never touched on before. Louis DeCaro shines a light on many aspects of the John Brown legacy and brings a deep feeling of humanity to the subject.  Well written, researched in great detail, this is a great addition to any John Brown collection.  I had the great honor of writing the preface for this book.

John Brown Photo Chronology

By Jean Libby

 The first and only comprehensive study of the photographs of John Brown.

Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America

 By Evan Carton

This is the second biography that I suggest when asked for recommendations. Carton’s writing style is easy to read, and adsorbing, yet open enough to allow the reader space to reflect on what John Brown’s war on slavery meant, and continues to mean to the world today.

Fire From the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown

By Louis A. DeCaro, Jr.

A biography that presents the religious beliefs and foundations that were an integral part of the man and his mission. John Brown believed in equality for all- regardless of gender, race, religion, monetary status – all PEOPLE were equal in his eyes.  DeCaro shows how Brown’s religion was the central force in his life and his war.


Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

By Tony Horwitx

A well researched and written biography of the man and the events leading to the Raid on Harper’s Ferry in October 1859. This book is very controversial within the John Brown community, but I like it and recommend it.  My only concern is that Horwitz states that Annie Brown Adams died of a broken neck, when in reality it was a broken neck of the upper leg bone and complications from cancer.

Other Books I Recommend