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Sweet Thunder: A Novel Hardcover – August 20, 2013


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Sweet Thunder: A Novel + Work Song + The Bartender's Tale
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1st Printing edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487340
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487347
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Not only does Doig continually sing the praises of libraries and books in personal appearances, he writes about them, too. This is his third historical novel featuring Morrie Morgan, con man turned librarian (How often does one get to use that phrase?) and now crusading journalist. The setting, as in Work Song (2010), is Butte, Montana, and the theme is once more labor strife, with the Anaconda Mining set against the seemingly overmatched miners’ union—until Morrie, recently returned to Butte with his bride, Grace, enters the fray in the guise of editorial writer for an upstart left-wing paper that strives to expose the chicanery of the mining company. Think Shane but with dueling journalists instead of gunfighters. The rival newspaper, mouthpiece for Anaconda, brings in a hired wordsmith from Chicago (Jack Palance at the typewriter) to trade linotype punches with Morrie. There are plenty of personal stories on the sidelines (Morrie’s marriage, doings at the library), but this time the focus is on hot type and the role journalism played in a rowdy western town. A stirring tale given a melancholic edge by the fading influence of print newspapers in our very different modern world. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doig’s fiction may not always hit national best-seller lists, but it is perennially popular in libraries. This one will only increase his reputation as a librarian’s favorite. --Bill Ott

Review

Praise For Sweet Thunder

"A remarkably solid and prolific novelist in the tradition of Wallace Stegner… [Doig’s] writing and characters are delightful." –USA Today

"Doig, who holds a Ph.D. in history, is at his best in his historic novels, and he unspools this compelling tale among the clatter of typewriters and the 'sweet thunder' of printing presses… Marvelous… yet another Montana book worthy of Doig’s prodigious talents." –Seattle Times

"Ivan Doig is one of the finest novelists writing today… Doig knows how to spin a tale, and he does so here with wonderful language that flows effortlessly from his rich and diverse characters… after finishing this fine novel, one just wants more." –Portland Oregonian

"There have been many charming rogues through literary history, and Mr. Doig brings us another one: Morrie Morgan… Doig has a gift of making oddballs believable and lovable, as well as a gift for capturing place and personality in deft strokes… an entertaining story at a high intellectual level." –New York Journal of Books

"Filled with an abundance of rich characters… it is Butte itself, a tough-fisted city of plungers and promoters, bootleggers and union workers, sharpers and window men and crooked boxers, that binds the story together. Doig re-creates one of America's legendary cities and fills it with characters to match." –Denver Post

"Enchanting and different… a great end of summer read." –Bethanne Patrick, New York 1

"It is always a pleasure to read Ivan Doig, who is consistently able to capture the innocence of another era. It is an innocence that, living in today’s world, seems fairy tale-like in the telling. But again, that is what Doig has done exceptionally well throughout his 12 novels, which stand more like bridges to the past than mere tales conjured from his imagination." –Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

"Not only are Morrie and his buddies fascinating characters, but so is Butte… [Sweet Thunder] is a celebration of Doig’s love of language and poetry." –Helena Independent Record

"With a master storyteller’s instincts and a dollop of wry humor, Doig evokes a perfect landscape of the past with a cast of memorable characters. A treasure of a novel." –Library Journal (starred review) 

"[A] stirring tale of greed, corruption, and the power of past sins… Doig's attention to detail, both historical and concerning characters of his own creation, is as sharp as ever. Long-time fans will recognize familiar names from previous novels and readers both seasoned and new will fall under the spell of Doig's Big Sky Country." –Publishers Weekly

"[A] marvelously atmospheric portrait of the bygone newspaper trade and an engaging cast of characters sketched with the author’s customary vigor… welcome evidence that Doig, in his 70s, is more prolific and entertaining than ever." –Kirkus

"Think Shane but with dueling journalists instead of gunfighters… A stirring tale given a melancholic edge by the fading influence of print newspapers in our very different modern world." –Booklist

More About the Author

Ivan Doig is the author of ten previous books. Seven are novels, including English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and three are nonfiction, including the highly acclaimed memoir This House of Sky, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.

Customer Reviews

Ivan Doig is a good story teller.
Milton N. Burgess
Fans of Ivan Doig should enjoy Sweet Thunder and if you are considering reading this book I do recommend that you read the two previous books in the series first.
AuburnTygr
It's an interesting story, good characters, worth a read.
Anne L. Watson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Mitchell VINE VOICE on August 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love Ivan Doig. He writes of a Montana he obviously loves. His characters are always infused with warmth and are written about with empathy and understanding...until Morgan, his narrator and main character in this book.

Morgan is a former Chicago sharp moved to Butte, Montana. He is a literary savant and has classical references for almost every situation. Once in Butte, he joins the mine workers' battle against the leviathan Anaconda Mining Company. He writes editorials for the workers' newspaper.

There are positive aspects of this book. The newspaper war and editorial battles between the mine workers' are amusing, literary and sharp. The constant literary references are at times amusing, at times challenging, but always interesting. Some of the supporting characters are strong, such as the former vigilante turned librarian and Russian Famine, the young teen taken under wing. The historical aspects of Butte as a mining town and the domination of the huge Anaconda was instructional - it was the company town of song and story, but real in 1920.

But there are also weak points. I never had any empathy for Morgan. His life was a succession of coincidental and unlikely events. The events begged credulity. Grace, his wife, was shallow and thinly drawn. The ending was quickly contrived as if the story had to finished somehow. The writing is good, but that is a comedown from Mr. Doig's usual beautiful lyrical writing.

This was an okay book, it just did not resonate with me.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James R. Spitznas VINE VOICE on July 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ivan Doig is one of my favorite American authors -- his writing is very evocative, witty, and full of intersecting characters; Sweet Thunder enjoys the same excellent prose that I've come to expect from Doig. Sweet Thunder picks up more or less where Work Song left off and finds Morrie/Morgie/Llewelyn continuing to cross swords with Anaconda. While there are some new characters and situations introduced, much of the plot seemed too similar to Work Song so the book was a bit less enjoyable than Doig's other works. Despite the somewhat disappointing plot, the writing was superb as always so the book was still a worthwhile read; I just hope that Doig's next work sees the introduction of some new places and characters.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Nobles VINE VOICE on July 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is such a wonderful book I dont know just what to say about it. I know Ivan Doig is a great writer but he keeps getting better with his great books. This one is no exception.

I dont intend to give you the story but Morrie Morgan, with his wife Grace, returns to Butte, Montana, to take over a mansion from his former boss. Add the army of miners and the stranglehold of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and you have a career busting setup. But there is more. Morris takes the job of editorialist for the Thunder, a new union newspaper and you are witness to a really great story. Add the cast of some new and old characters along with the deeply personal battle of Morris and, well, this is really good reading.

Sweet Thunder is a really good read by a classic American novelist. The roaring '20s and the unforgetable cast of characters will keep you guessing at every turn. This is one of those really good reads from a great novelist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Jacobs VINE VOICE on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before you read this one, you should first read 'The Whistling Season' and 'Work Song' so that you encounter all the characters herein in a chronological fashion. If you do that, you'll be better served by the plot line of this latest in the Morris Morgan series. You COULD read this one as a 'stand alone' novel, but it's predecessors are way too good to do that. I read 'Work Song' first and I wish I'd read 'The Whistling Season' first.

This said, once again, Mr. Doig has given us a tasty little narrative to chew on once again. It's still a 'war of words' as it was in 'Work Song', but it's a different battlefield this time around. Compared to 'Work Song' I didn't think Sweet Thunder measured up to it as far as overall quality is concerned. The pacing of the action didn't seem quite as brisk, and the specter of The Anaconda Copper Company wasn't quite as threatening.

Now, I'm not saying that 'Sweet Thunder' isn't good. Quite the contrary - it's VERY good, but I've been sort of spoiled by the earlier parts of the overall story that occur in the previous works. As in movies, sequels rarely live up to the standard set by the original piece. However, we are talking about the founding of the first independent newspaper in Montana that wasn't under Anaconda Company control here, so it's a significant piece of state and Butte history we're talking about as the book's subject.

One very bright spot in the narrative is the development of the young lad, Russian Famine, who begins his journey to becoming a man in these pages. This process is tied nicely to the main character, Morrie's sordid past during his Chicago days.

In all of his works that I've read to date, Mr. Doig does a beautiful job of weaving his characters together as he propels the story forward.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bill Hansen on February 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Almost every reader who has reviewed this book is a long time Doig fan, and has read the two books which preceded this one which, I discovered as I read, is part of a series. Maybe enjoyment of the book depends on reading the preceding two books, before reading this one. Maybe enjoyment depends on being a long time Doig fan, before reading this book. Whatever the reason, I could not enjoy "Sweet Thunder". I feel almost embarrassed to write that, given the extravagant praise the book has enjoyed. The writing style seemed a little contrived, the human touches even more so, and the plot seemed slow moving.

I write this so that if anyone else has my lukewarm impression of "Sweet Thunder" or of Ivan Doig, they'll know they aren't completely alone. I'm quite disappointed. From the reader reviews, I expected to find an absorbing book, well-written, with an interesting plot and characters. It must at least be an error on my part, because I didn't find any of those things.
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