This essay first appeared in The Nation ( May 31, 1975), 662-64, under the title of "Styron & the Blacks—Another View", and is reprinted here by permission of the editors of that periodical.
Though most white reviewers were entranced with Styron's novel, there were a few who expressed reservations. For example, see Herbert Aptheker's essay in The Nation ( October 16, 1967), 375-76. Genovese's remarks about Ten Black Writers Respond are from his review, "The Nat Turner Case", New York Review of Books ( September 12, 1968), 34-37. Duberman's reviews of Styron's novel and Ten Black Writers Respond are collected, with italicized explanations, in Duber man 's The Uncompleted Past ( New York, 1969), 203-22.
For extensive criticisms, defenses, and refutations of Styron's novel, consult John B. Duff and Peter M. Mitchell, eds., The Nat Turner Rebellion:The Historical Event and the Modern Controversy ( New York, 1971). Henry Irving Tragle , ed., The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831 ( Amherst, Mass., 1971), is the best collection of documents, although Eric Foner, ed., Nat Turner ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1971), is also useful. Though crudely published, F. Roy Johnson, The Nat Turner Slave Insurrection ( Murfreesboro, N.C., 1966), and The Nat Turner Story ( Murfreesboro, N.C., 1970), are valuable for Southern folklore about Turner.
The opening portrait of Brown and Harpers Ferry is based on my own work, To Purge This Land with Blood:A Biography of John Brown ( New York, 1970). But I have also benefited from Professor Ronald Story's illuminating unpublished paper, "John Brown and the Injuries of Class." For recent interpretations of Brown that differ from my own, see Jules Abels, Man on Fire ( New York, 1971), and Richard Boyer, The Legend of John Brown ( New York, 1973.).
Biographers and historians have overemphasized the abolitionist and anti-