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American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 2 of 5

Part of John Brown's Holy War Interviews.


Banks talks about Wilderness - chopping trees, sound of an ax familiar, Wilderness - silence, unimaginable to us today, Wilderness - imagine darkness, cold, wind, need for sanity, Sanity - John Brown mad? important question, Sanity - concluded John Brown incredibly sane, not always rational, Sanity - John Brown more sane than Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, etc, Sanity - whites think insane, blacks think sane, Sanity - acts were crazy in racist society, heroic to blacks, Sanity - white/black, John Brown emblematic of our history, culture, Seminary/Personality - wanted to preach, not intellectual, Business - obsessive dream to succeed, 1830s like 1980s, Business - he could do it honestly, Business/Man of Times - desire to get rich quick, Man of Times - working class, rural, typical # of kids, Family/Farming - needed children for labor, Tannery/Success - young "chieftain" carving out a community, Childhood (Ohio was "West") / Cattle drive extraordinary, Cattle drive - Western feat, physically unimaginable, Personality - emotional intensity, exciting/terrifying, Description of John Brown - tall, big man, though actually not that big, Personality - funny, playful, children felt comfortable w/him, John Brown as Father - kids trusted him, John Brown as Father - had great humanity, earned respect and loyalty, Family - bustling, loud, argumentative, news, Bible, morality, Family - small farmhouse w/ yammering kids, kids articulate, Family - campfire conversation origins of American Indians

License Clip
American Experience
John Brown's Holy War
Program Number



Interview with author Russell Banks, 2 of 5

Series Description

As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award.

Program Description

Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was based on religious faith -- yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harpers Ferry sparked a chain of events that led to the Civil War.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Robert Kenner (Producer)
Banks, Russell (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 2 of 5,” 2000, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed July 16, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_408D59C68542407384A6E80F535A3D60.
MLA: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 2 of 5.” 2000. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. July 16, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_408D59C68542407384A6E80F535A3D60>.
APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Russell Banks, 2 of 5. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_408D59C68542407384A6E80F535A3D60
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