Monday, August 4, 2014

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism by Bonnie Laughlin - Schultz

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I will say that I have not finished reading the book. And you are probably thinking, I should stop writing reviews before I finish. However, I can't wait to finish the book to write a review because I LOVE this book! This book is very readable and very real. I don't want to read through it too fast because there is so much to absorb in what I am reading. So I don't want my review to be put off for too much longer. I feel as if I am sitting beside these women as they go through their life. The author does a very good job of putting the events in a larger context of the time. She does not show bias toward any one side. She tells us what these women went through and to the extent possible, she tells us what they felt about it. At no point in time did I feel like she was trying to convince me to think of this controversial figure in a certain light. I felt that I was being encouraged to make up my own mind. 

This is not simply a book about the women in John Brown's family. This is not simply a book about radical abolitionism. This is a book about a nation, a struggle, a time period. This is a book about family, duty, and sacrifice for a cause. It is a book that will cause to look at history differently. It might even make you look at the present differently. It will make you question your beliefs. 

I would recommend a physical copy of the book as it would be easier to refer to the notes on the author's source material. And I would recommend buying this book and not simply borrowing it from the library. You will want to read it more than once.

If you are interested in the lives of women, get this book.
If you are interested in abolitionism, get this book.
If you are interested in the Civil War era, get this book.
If you are interested in family dynamics, get this book.
If you are even slightly interested in history, get this book.

I received a free copy of it through NetGalley with the agreement that I give an honest review. My review is rather late at this point, but better late than never, hopefully.


Book Description

John Brown was fiercely committed to the militant abolitionist cause, a crusade that culminated in Brown's raid on the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry in 1859 and his subsequent execution. Less well known is his devotion to his family, and they to him. Two of Brown’s sons were killed at Harpers Ferry, but the commitment of his wife and daughters often goes unacknowledged. In The Tie That Bound Us, Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz reveals for the first time the depth of the Brown women’s involvement in his cause and their crucial roles in preserving and transforming his legacy after his death.
As detailed by Laughlin-Schultz, Brown’s second wife Mary Ann Day Brown and his daughters Ruth Brown Thompson, Annie Brown Adams, Sarah Brown, and Ellen Brown Fablinger were in many ways the most ordinary of women, contending with chronic poverty and lives that were quite typical for poor, rural nineteenth-century women. However, they also lived extraordinary lives, crossing paths with such figures as Frederick Douglass and Lydia Maria Child and embracing an abolitionist moral code that sanctioned antislavery violence in place of the more typical female world of petitioning and pamphleteering.
In the aftermath of John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry, the women of his family experienced a particular kind of celebrity among abolitionists and the American public. In their roles as what daughter Annie called "relics" of Brown’s raid, they tested the limits of American memory of the Civil War, especially the war’s most radical aim: securing racial equality. Because of their longevity (Annie, the last of Brown’s daughters, died in 1926) and their position as symbols of the most radical form of abolitionist agitation, the story of the Brown women illuminates the changing nature of how Americans remembered Brown’s raid, radical antislavery, and the causes and consequences of the Civil War.

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
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