A cultural biography of John Brown, the controversial abolitionist who used violent tactics against slavery and single-handedly changed the course of American history. Reynolds brings to life the Puritan warrior who gripped slavery by the throat and triggered the Civil War. Reynolds demonstrates that Brown’s most violent acts—including his killing of proslavery settlers in Kansas and his historic raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia--were inspired by the slave revolts, guerilla warfare, and revolutionary Christianity of the day. He shows how Brown seized public attention, polarizing the nation and fueling the tensions that led to the Civil War. Reynolds recounts how Brown permeated American culture during the Civil War and beyond, and how he planted the seeds of the civil rights movement by making a pioneering demand for complete social and political equality for America’s ethnic minorities.