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"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

John Brown and "The Story of Us": More Docu-Crap

My brother-in-law called me at 10:45 P.M. to tell me that there was something about John Brown on the History Channel, so I quickly switched the channel just in time to see the first few minutes of the segment on the Old Man.  I was appalled.  In those few minutes, "The Story of Us" not only visually misrepresented John Brown by using an actor that didn't resemble him in the least (not even have his famous but cropped beard), but misrepresented the facts and extended conventional errors that have plagued the story of Brown and the Harper's Ferry raid for many years.  It was almost as if the script was written by a careless college sophomore and one of those National Park Service "authorities" at Harper's Ferry.  Honestly, it was so bad, so poorly framed and presented that I didn't wait until after the station break before I switched back to the movie I was watching before.   In plain words, it stunk.  It sucked.  It was docu-crap, the kind pseudo-educational material that will get bought up by public schools and shown to countless school kids over the next decade, further misleading and undermining everything that serious scholars are trying to accomplish.

If I haven't been clear enough, let me reiterate that the official rating by this blogger of "The Story of Us" as far as its John Brown segment is concerned is zero, nada, nothing--less than nothing.  Don't watch it.  Don't record it and save it for later.  And my goodness, don't buy it to show to your students.  It offers nothing worth watching regarding John Brown.  Indeed, whoever wrote the script should be driven out of town at the sharp end of a pike.


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Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. . . said...

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JamesHofsiss said...


If you didn't watch past the commercial then you don't know the half of it.

First, the setting looked nothing like what I know of the arsenal and the engine house. The defense of the arsenal looks inaccurate to me. The way he was overrun, through the treacherous misuse of a white flag of truce was not shown.

The two most egregious and flagrant errors are:
1) Lt Greene's assault on Brown - Brown is stabbed in the left shoulder with a dagger. Greene's beating of Brown's head with his sword hilt is not shown.
2) Brown goes from clean-shaven to a FULL beard in his one-month imprisonment.

Finally, the narrator says, "His sons are dead," as if they all fell at Harpers Ferry.

I had such hopes for this miniseries and this one segment shows why it is such a disappointment.

Take care my friend,

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