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American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 4 of 5

Part of John Brown's Holy War Interviews.


Banks talks about Frederick Douglass - said plan was steel trap, but John Brown went, Martyr - plan failing, despair, last roll of dice, Martyr - elevated rhetoric, becomes memorably brilliant, Press - John Brown's words transformed North like nothing else could've, Martyr - John Brown's transformation great moment in US history, Press - media event w/ huge historical and political implications, Martyr - meaning of John Brown's life lies in its end, relief, Martyr - didn't plan it, saw as only option, genius, H Ferry/Engine House - small, but John Brown had focus, control, H Ferry - can't plan it, must seize when occurs, still puzzles us, Press - transformation John Brown and antislavery movement as violent, Press - technology, first media darling, excitement in headlines, Press/Hero - John Brown knew he fit hero role, exploited it, Press - John Brown not shy, Press - American way to operate, look at cameras, Personality - John Brown not rigid, complex, human, Heroes - humanize them to make villainy/heroism possible for us, Personality - complex, if only a villain one can dismiss him, Pottawatomie - raises Qs for today, violence for principled cause, Icon - John Brown typical American of all time, figure who can be shared, North Elba - paradisiacal, father and fighte, North Elba - all aspects of his life working together, North Elba/Failure - had to settle debts, lost dream

License Clip
American Experience
John Brown's Holy War
Program Number



Interview with author Russell Banks, 4 of 5

Series Description

As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award.

Program Description

Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was based on religious faith -- yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harpers Ferry sparked a chain of events that led to the Civil War.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Robert Kenner (Producer)
Banks, Russell (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 4 of 5,” 2000, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed July 14, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F677791AF57A420E8E1CF1BF1213B2F2.
MLA: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 4 of 5.” 2000. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. July 14, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F677791AF57A420E8E1CF1BF1213B2F2>.
APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 4 of 5. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F677791AF57A420E8E1CF1BF1213B2F2
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