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Hard Country Hardcover – May 10, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This is a western that women will love.”—Max Evans, author of The Rounders, The High Lo Country, Madam Millie, and others.

Hard Country is the evocation of real people in a real land. McGarrity is an accomplished storyteller, and he writes with clarity, perception, and authenticity. Those who read this novel will find it engaging, and they will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Old West and of the part it played in forging the American imagination.” — N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winning author of House Made of Dawn, The Way to Rainy Mountain, In the Bear’s House, and others.

About the Author

Michael McGarrity is author of the Anthony Award-nominated Tularosa, Mexican Hat, Serpent Gate, Hermit's Peak, The Judas Judge, Under the Color of Law, and The Big Gamble. A former deputy sheriff for Santa Fe County, he established the first Sex Crimes Unit. He has also served as an instructor at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and as an investigator for the New Mexico Public Defender's Office.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 1st edition (May 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525952462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952466
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The epic Western novel has been absent from the forefront for a while, but the genre has never gone away (the meager offerings in big box bookstores notwithstanding). Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour have always been in print, and such stalwarts as "Tabor Evans" and George Gilman have kept the West alive on the mass market paperback racks since. Larry McMurtry, of course, has had an enviable list of Western bestsellers, while Cormac McCarthy has ushered the genre into the halls of academia. And an author named Elmore Leonard has had remarkable and greatly deserved success with both frontier and modern westerns.

It was just about time, though, that an epic Western in the classic sense shoulder itself to the forefront of the public's attention. HARD COUNTRY, the sprawling new novel by Michael McGarrity, fills that need, and then some. The book is divided into three sections and takes place in the American Southwest --- primarily the New Mexico territory--- between 1875 and 1918. The tale is thus book-ended by two horrific wars --- the Civil War of the 1860s and World War I --- and overlaps yet a third, the Spanish-American War. It is the story of the Kerney family, beginning with John, the Irish immigrant who wore union blue in the American Civil War and made his way to Texas on the promise of a better life. That life comes with hard and bitter strings attached. And so it is that on what is probably the most tragic day of Kerney's life --- he loses his wife, brother and nephew --- he must give up his infant son while attempting to build a life for both of them.

Kerney's travels and employment lead him to an encounter with Cal Doran. An incident shows each man the character of the other, and as a result they forge a friendship that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Having received my reader's copy (ARC) of Hard Country, I sat down to read - and there I sat. If anyone had any doubts about this book, shelve them - abso-bloody-riveting from start to finish!!
I read it at one sitting (tho in the end I did have to have a nanny nap in between 2.30am and 5.30am about half way thru!) In my opinion, it has to be the best thing Michael has ever written and his style of writing really suits this genre - there is the room in this trilogy to expand on Michael's love of New Mexico and its history. I was totally swept up in it - the land, which is as beautifully drawn as we've come to expect, the history, but especially the characters.
The way the characters come alive on the page living in the landscape around them. Of course the only trouble with a saga is that people you've grown so fond of die in the course of time - like your own family, as life ebbs and flows around the main Kerney family, I felt like I was there and part of it. The minor but pivotal characters, are as real as everything in this saga of pioneering in the Old West - I don't think Michael put a foot wrong - everything rang true.
Emma, who with her children, seems to be the one who will lead us into the second part such a great character - she makes me laugh with delight - feisty lady that she is - I think she is the most alive off the page female character Michael has ever written - reminds me of some of the stories you hear about our Australian outback pioneer women.
I am so looking forward to the next book and this one hasn't even been released yet!!
Di Bingham, Webmistress,[...]
Michael's books [...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't usually post reviews when I haven't finished the book, nor do I usually trust those who do.

But Michael McGarrity's new book Hard Country, a saga of the birth & growth of New Mexico through the lives of a series of engrossing characters, is so outstanding that I couldn't wait.

With only 63% read in my Kindle version, I had to take time to recommend this to new readers & to reassure faithful readers that McGarrity's compelling story telling has never been better.

Someone has compared this story favorably with Larry McMurty, but IMHO McGarrity is a far better, complex, driving author. I wouldn't be surprised if Hard Country became the signature novel for telling New Mexico's fascinating story from Mexican wasteland to American land of opportunity. Perhaps it would be better to compare him & Hard Country to Margaret Mitchell & Gone with the Wind or James Michener & Hawaii or Leon Uris & Exodus.

I'll leave it to some other reviewer to recount the plot & character details. In general, the story serials several connected individuals through their hardships & triumphs in New Mexico from shortly after the Civil War into the early 1900s. (For previous McGarrity fans, this is the back story to the ancestry of continuing series protagonist Kevin Kerny.)Whether it's young Patrick Kerny spending his childhood on the verge of abandonment or later tough woman Emma Kerny or any of the others, the reader is caught up in the lives of extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances who never give up.

Gotta go. 57% still to read.
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Format: Hardcover
"Hard Country" is a historical novel about the rugged southwest from the years 1875 to 1918. It's a very sad story with broken people struggling to just survive in a harsh yet beautiful land. There's no doubt that a lot of research went into this story. It felt more like a story about the land, the people (in general), and the times than the actual main characters. It had several different point-of-view characters as the years passed and people died or another character's life was better able to illustrate the times.

The details about the time period, cattle ranching, wars, politics, etc., made the story slow-paced in places. There was very little dialogue at the beginning and multiple years would be described in a sentence or two. The closer to the end the story got, the more dialogue and complex human interactions were added. If you're interested in what life was like in the southwest at that time, this story will probably hold your interest throughout. Someone looking for the action of a western genre novel, though, will probably find it very slow going.

There was some explicit bad language. There were no explicitly described sex scenes, but whores, sex, and rape were referred to. Overall, it was an interesting--and very large--novel, but it will probably appeal most to those who love historicals and southwest America.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
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