Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown in The Good Lord Bird

Showtime's The Good Lord Bird gives a riotous 7-episode ride through the end of abolitionist John Brown's controversial life, stunningly portrayed by Ethan Hawke.

In anticipation of a great television series I found the real John Brown's bible, and letters he had written, available for perusal at the Chicago History Museum. Brown's final note, scrawled the day he was to hang, an almost precognitive warning of the coming Civil War and what was inevitable to end slavery.

Charlestown, Va, 2nd December 1859

I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.

John Brown's bible.

James McBride's book The Good Lord Bird is the basis for the series. McBride uses satire and comedy to feature the great African-American statesman Frederick Douglass played by Daveed Diggs, as well as Ethan Hawke's John Brown.

"I got seduced by McBride's voice. I couldn't stop laughing," Hawke told Rolling Stone magazine in a September interview.

If I found anything humorous about the real John Brown it was in one particular letter he wrote to his family on October 20th, 1857. Nearly the entire letter admonishing them for not writing back (not an uncommon frustration parents still have). Can it be that you have all done writing me, Brown guilt-tripped.

He then meticulously listed the 5 other dates he had sent letters to receive not one response. Yes, John Brown, as a parent, I understand.