Encouraged by Louisa May Alcott to write down her thoughts, Annie Brown looks back at the summer that changed her life and that of so many people. Annie is the daughter of John Brown, the anti-slavery crusader who organized the famous raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry in an attempt to liberate the slaves. In the summer of 1859, he summons 15-year-old Annie to keep house, watch for intruders, and maintain the appearance of innocence at his secret headquarters. Annie loves her father, but sometimes she thinks he must be crazy: having failed at everything all of his life, why would he try to succeed at something as impossible as this? She is angered that he can speak of being led by God and yet condone deceit when it suits his purposes, and she worries about his influence on the young man she intends to marry. Most of all, however, she longs for her father's approval, and she works for it, even as she braces herself for the terrible loss that must accompany the outcome of his plan.
Ann Rinaldi, the author of such critically acclaimed historical fiction as In My Father's House and The Second Bend in the River, makes Annie's voice her own in this brief, diary-like recollection of the tragic events at Harpers Ferry. Through it, two characters emerge powerfully: Annie Brown and her father, John Brown, who leaves his daughter as a witness to his single-minded dedication to his cause. As always, Rinaldi masterfully creates a three-dimensional historical background: Mine Eyes Have Seen is expertly researched, and Rinaldi fills it with accurate details that make the distant past feel vivid and immediate. For readers who may be confused by the large cast of characters, she includes a detailed list of participants, a bibliography, and an author's note, which sheds light on the writing process and separates the facts here from the fiction.