Award-winning journalist, author Tony Horwitz to speak today

By Chris Shores

Tony Horwitz – a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist – will speak today at a lecture sponsored by the University of Massachusetts history department.

Horwitz – who is visiting the UMass campus this week to be recognized as this year’s history department Writer in Residence – will discuss his latest book, “Midnight Rising: The Raid That Sparked the Civil War” at 4 p.m. in the Cape Cod Lounge.

“Midnight Rising” tells the story of John Brown – an American abolitionist who was executed after attempting an unsuccessful raid on the Harpers Ferry armory in 1859, two years before the start of the Civil War.

“The events at Harper’s Ferry – and in “Bleeding Kansas” before that – are … watershed moments in American history,” said Marla Miller, a history professor at UMass. “I think students often find the whole idea of the raid on the federal arsenal intended to spark a slave uprising hard to take in – it can all seem so implausible. But in this telling, Horwitz helps us understand not only Brown’s singular vision, but how and why everyday Americans came to support such an extraordinary plan.”

The Writer in Residence program – a product of history professor Larry Owens – selects a different author each year, said Miller. The author is invited to “campus for a week to contemplate with us how we can all be better writers, and better engage general readers,” she said.

Horwitz – who lives with his family on Martha’s Vineyard – is the author of “Baghdad Without a Map,” “Confederates in the Attic,” “Blue Latitudes” and “A Voyage Long and Strange,” all of which were New York Times bestsellers.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1995 for a Wall Street Journal series that explored low-wage working conditions in America.