Book Reviews of Cloudsplitter

Author: Russell Banks
ISBN-13: 9780060168605
ISBN-10: 0060168609
Publication Date: 3/11/1998
Pages: 758
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 5 ratings
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Cloudsplitter on + 459 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
From a hermit's shack on an isolated California mountaintop, Owen Brown, the only surviving son of abolitionist John Brown, reminisces over his role in his father's bloody crusade -- from maintaining the Underground Railroad in upstate New York to battling proslavery settlers in Kansas to the fateful raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Massive in scope and brimming with love, hatred, revenge, and unbridled ego, Cloudsplitter is a dazzling re-creation of the political and social landscape of America in the years before the Civil War.
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Helpful Score: 4
Incredible. This should have gotten the recognition Cold Mountain got.
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Helpful Score: 3
Fascinating look at the life of John Brown, the abolitionist who thought slavery was an abomination and who thought he was God's instrument in trying to eliminate it from the country. The novel is narrated by his last surviving son, Owen Brown, who escaped from Harper's Ferry, and tells of the beginnings of the Brown clan in Ohio, Massachusetts, and North Elba, New York. The novel is long and detailed and really gives the reader the feel of living in the middle 19th century with its many hardships and struggles including the deaths of many of the Brown children. It includes details of Brown's anti-slavery beliefs, the Underground Railroad, and includes insights on historical personages such as Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It also includes the details of Brown's actions in "Bloody Kansas" and his eventual downfall at Harper's Ferry. The novel works at many levels: it is full of ideas, it is the story of an American family, and it is full of adventure. Although I think the novel could have been shortened somewhat - it is sometimes very wordy - I would still highly recommend this one to anyone interested in American history, the Civil War, and the fight for abolition of slavery.
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Helpful Score: 2
I didn't know much about John Brown and this book brought him and his family to life for me.
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Excellent historical fiction telling of John Brown's life through eyes of son
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Quaker abolishionist who takes matters into his own hands to end slavery.
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Book Description
A triumph of the imagination and a masterpiece of modern storytelling, Cloudsplitter is narrated by the enigmatic Owen Brown, last surviving son of America's most famous and still controversial political terrorist and martyr, John Brown. Deeply researched, brilliantly plotted, and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters both historical and wholly invented, Cloudsplitter is dazzling in its re-creation of the political and social landscape of our history during the years before the Civil War, when slavery was tearing the country apart. But within this broader scope, Russell Banks has given us a riveting, suspenseful, heartbreaking narrative filled with intimate scenes of domestic life, of violence and action in battle, of romance and familial life and death that make the reader feel in astonishing ways what it is like to be alive in that time.

My Review
I enjoyed Cloudsplitter very much. Russell Banks made the key people of the antislavery movement come to life. The book is narrated by John Brown's son, Owen, and through him we learn the details of his father's passion to free the slaves and help them escape to Canada and the events leading up to his capture at Harper's Ferry and his hanging. I found this novel to be most informative about American life in the early-to-mid part of the 19th century. I would highly recommend this book to those who are interested in the antislavery movement and the events leading up to the Civil War. John Brown is truly a fascinating character and one person that changed the course of history.