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Here is a book that takes a real person, Owen Brown, the last surviving son of John Brown, and through Owen's experience lets us imagine the life he lived, the father he had, the country as it was in those years that led up to the Civil War. The author intends that we take Cloudsplitter seriously, and we do, not because it is about dramatic events but because it builds the drama with the bricks of everyday life. Like the characters in the book, we feel the extraordinary pressure exerted on the center by extremists from both sides. The war was a national calamity, John Brown a disaster, and his son's lasting consequence was to bear witness. After the great events rolled by, Owen settled in Altadena, California. A simple stone marks his grave: "Owen Brown, son of the Liberator."
"A work of near biblical proportions...of the many writers working in the great tradition today, one of the best is Russell Banks." (New York Times Book Review)