Fascinaton leads to historical novel

June 18, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Bob O'Connor has long been fascinated by the story of infamous abolitionist John Brown and various curiosities associated with his tale.

He shares many of those intriguing facts in his first book, a historical novel, "The Perfect Steel Trap: Harpers Ferry 1859."

For instance, future Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth - another historical figure O'Connor has had a lifetime fascination about - was at Brown's execution.

Many of the curiosities or coincidences are left for the near-end of the book.

O'Connor spent 2 1/2 years researching the story of John Brown, who led a raid on an arsenal at Harpers Ferry in an attempt to use the weapons to liberate slaves. He was hanged for crimes including treason.


The novel is written in the voice of two real men, Brown's son, Owen Brown, and Osborne Anderson, both of whom helped Brown with the raid; both escaped capture. The novel is a fictional recounting by these men of the time leading up to and after the raid.

While the book contains authentic correspondence, O'Connor fashioned most of the letters from diaries, reports and newspaper articles.

The dialogue is fictional but about 95 percent of the book is historically accurate, estimates O'Connor, who is assistant director of the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

O'Connor, 60, of Charles Town, W.Va., is a former director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The Perfect Steel Trap: Harpers Ferry 1859" costs $20.95 plus tax and is available online at www.boboconnor or and by calling 1-877-BUY-BOOK.

The book also can be purchased at the Sharpsburg Arsenal, the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Borders Books in Hagerstown, Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Turn the Page Bookstore Caf in Boonsboro, Book Crossing in Brunswick, Md., and Wilson Store in Clear Spring.

The Herald-Mail Articles