John Brown had a mission from God – that all people should be free. If rebellion and armed insurrection were the only ways to free the slaves, so be it. In Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks tells John Brown’s story through the voice of his son, Owen. Fans of Banks’ cut-and-run prose in earlier works like Rule of the Bone or The Sweet Hereafter will have to adjust to the lingering, ordinary voice of Owen Brown. Owen spins the yarn of his father’s life from abolitionist settler to the political terrorist that led the revolt at Harpers Ferry and heightened tensions between North and South directly before the Civil War. Was John Brown a madman? A misguided fanatic? A heroic martyr? You decide.