A Volcano Beneath the Snow (Knopf, 2014)

A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery

Albert Marrin

John Brown is a man of many legacies, from hero, freedom fighter, and martyr to liar, fanatic, and “the father of American terrorism”. Some have said that it was his seizure of the arsenal at Harper's Ferry that rendered the Civil War inevitable. Brown believed that God had chosen him to right the moral wrong of slavery. He was willing to die for something modern Americans agree was a just cause. And yet he was willing to kill for it, too, in the name of “righteous violence.

”Award-winning nonfiction author Albert Marrin brings nineteenth-century issues into the modern arena with ease and grace in a book that is sure to rivet readers and spark serious discussion



Marrin adds to his acclaimed collection of history books, and while the subject of this latest is not easy to read about, Marrin’s narrative style is entirely accessible. [He] sets out “to place this man within his world and then to see how he helped bring about the most terrible conflict in American history,”and he accomplishes that and more.

Publisher's Weekly, starred review

An intelligent and important volume.

— The Horn Book Magazine

This will be an excellent resource for U.S. history collections.

School Library Journal, Starred Review

Marrin has done a brilliant job of providing readers with a full-length biography of this extraordinary man who “raised questions that are as valid today as they were in his lifetime.” His gracefully written, well-documented text is supported by 20 pages of endnotes and is accompanied by a generous selection of black-and-white period photographs and drawings. The result invites independent reading and provides an invaluable resource for classroom use.

— Booklist, Starred Review

Marrin refuses to take an easy way out by writing Brown off as a religious fanatic or madman or even a common criminal, and in doing so forces readers into the maelstrom of mid-nineteenth century debate, to determine the most expeditious road to justice, undaided by twenty-first century hindsight. This is a rewarding work for serious adolescent readers, and educators who are equally serious about nutruring informed social criticism within their students will welcome this challenging title.

— Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books