Customer Reviews


135 Reviews
5 star:
 (66)
4 star:
 (44)
3 star:
 (14)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent prose but too similar to Work Song
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...
Published 17 months ago by James R. Spitznas

versus
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Doig
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...
Published 16 months ago by Rick Mitchell


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Doig, August 7, 2013
By 
Rick Mitchell "Rick Mitchell" (candia, new hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent prose but too similar to Work Song, July 27, 2013
By 
James R. Spitznas (Purcellville, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Great Read, July 21, 2013
By 
Charles M. Nobles (Tulsa, OK United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Power Of The PRESS, August 21, 2013
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (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. This keeps the reader interested in ALL the characters - major and 2nd tier - and their outcomes. This elevated level of story cohesion gives a consistent level of interest throughout the work, and once again provides for yet another highly enjoyable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ivan Doig, September 19, 2013
This review is from: Sweet Thunder (Kindle Edition)
Ivan Doig is one of my favorite American authors, but sad to say he has been slipping with his recent 2 books. This one doesn't live up to his usually powerful story line. Fun read but didn't have the power or credibility of other books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So close...., August 29, 2013
By 
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (Hardcover)
Ivan Doig has followed his bestseller, "Work Song" with a sequel titled "Sweet Thunder." Both are set in the brawling mining city of Butte, Montana in the late teens and early 1920s and both center on Morrie Morgan, the central character of an earlier Doig novel called "The Whistling Season". Morrie has led an improbable life that contains episodes as a prize-fighter in Chicago, a one-room school teacher in Montana and a librarian and labor organizer in Butte. He has also been involved in a great deal of chicanery in his past and he lives looking over his shoulder for "window men" who might be tailing him.

As "Sweet Thunder" begins Morrie is at the tail end of a one year honeymoon, following his marriage to Grace, a former Butte boarding house owner. He and Grace receive an unexpected legacy and return to Butte just as Morrie's bank account is approaching zero.
Relationships begun in "Work Song" resume and Morrie soon finds himself embroiled again in the bitter struggle between the immigrant miners of Butte and the oppressive and exploitative Anaconda Company. This time Morrie is writing for a new labor newspaper, the fictitious Thunder, attempting to provide a voice for the labor movement that will match the company-owned Butte Daily Post.

Doig is expert at weaving many characters together, each with their own story that illustrates the complex immigrant character of Butte in the 1920's. But the plot is deceptively simple and expectations of something a little more weighty and meaningful are soon disappointed.

As a native Montanan, growing up in Anaconda, a nearby community whose history is intricately intertwined with Butte's, I was hoping for a more accurate portrayal of the union-labor struggle and the role of the newspapers as a tool of Wall Street in remote Montana. Doig includes as a background character a timid Montana governor who vacillates in backing the union workers in their struggle. In reality the Montana gubernatorial campaign of 1920 was entirely focused on a battle between anti-Anaconda Company candidate and former federal prosecutor, Burton K. Wheeler and company-backed Joseph Dixon. With an array of company-owned newspapers across Montana hammering Wheeler with the threat of a red menace, Dixon of course won the election. This story is well chronicled in Dennis Swibold's "Copper Chorus" (2006) and would have provided a much more interesting background to "Sweet Thunder". Instead, a sort of Disney-like atmosphere prevails in Doig's novel and a light, heartwarming novel is the result.

Ivan Doig is often an excellent writer. His "This House of Sky" and several earlier novels are well-written and are worthy of his Pulitzer nomination. Montanans are proud that their native son tells their story to a national audience. But this Montana has got his fingers crossed that a stronger, tighter, more compelling novel will emerge next time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok easy entertaining read, March 30, 2014
By 
B. Beattie (Near Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sweet Thunder (Kindle Edition)
It isn't horrible, just not up to the other books I have enjoyed by Mr Doig. I was hoping for as good as Whistling Season and Dancing at the Rascal Fair. I even read Work Song before this book as suggested in the reviews, but both books left me feeling luke warm. If you are interested in Butte maybe this will spark something. But for me the fire went out.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Thunder is hugely disappointing, November 3, 2013
By 
George Mason (SUNNYVALE, CA, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (Hardcover)
As a longtime Ivan Doig fan, I am sorry to report that Sweet Thunder was a major letdown. His last couple of books, in fact, seem to place Doig on a downward slide in terms of literate and evocative prose; his characters and syntax are self-consciously colorful rather than (as in his earlier books) being appealing because they have inherent depth and uniqueness. The author seems to be trying too hard to entertain, rather than letting the stories work their magic on the reader. One reviewer (USA Today, I believe) compared Doig to Wallace Stegner, and I might have once agreed that the best of Doig approaches the quality and satisfaction of Stegner's lesser novels, but with his latest offerings, it's clear he's not even in the same league.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Brilliant Offering by Ivan Doig, July 28, 2013
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Morrie Morgan, from two previous novels, "The Whistling Season" and "Work Song" is back in another saga with Butte mining in 1920. The company, Anaconda, which pays nearly no taxes but earns 20 million each year, demeans it's miners in every way possible. Taxes fall on the property owners of the shacks provided by Anaconda. Morrie and his wife, Grace, believe in the miner's rights. Returning from their year honeymoon abroad, they find that they are now the proprietors of a great mansion owned by "Sandison" the abiding librarian of "The Butte Public Library." Also, Morrie becomes the editorial mouthpiece for the pro miner paper, "Sweet Thunder." These two events are cataclysmic to their lives in many diverse and action-packed ways.

Ivan Doig reigns in my personal library as one of the finest writers ever. His words are like the color-soaked paintbrush bringing alive his worlds with astounding descriptions and prose that stirs the soul. Maybe a bit verbose, I learn so many words origins and meanings through my perusing his offerings.(The man is extremely well read) I come away with a deep, sincere sense of how hard those that went before me lived and worked the land of the Treasure State. Characters are a strong point to Mr. Doig's elegance in prose tugging away at the reader's heart strings or tempering them.

Superb book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A squall not a storm, July 6, 2013
By 
Jim Tenuto (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sweet Thunder: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ivan Doig has written amazing novels, ENGLISH CREEK, DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, BUCKING THE SUN all comes to mind. He is the master of the early 20th century American West. His themes include the massive engineering projects that transformed the nation, immense dams and the hardscrabble labor of miners. He sits squarely at labor's table, even giving the occasional nod to the Wobblies. His earlier novels were highly textured, with rich, deep characters, distinct dialogue and nuanced plots.

SWEET THUNDER does not rise to those levels. The characters, while entertaining and sharply drawn, rarely step outside two dimensions. Morrie Morgan (a.k.a. Morgan Llewellyn) returns from a yearlong honeymoon trip, financed by his bet against the Black Sox in the 1919 World Series and prompted by Chicago gangsters looking for revenge. While in San Francisco he receives a rather intriguing offer, he and Grace, his new wife, if they return to Butte, Montana, can take ownership of a mansion currently occupied by Sam Sandison, Butte's librarian and former rancher with a penchant for hanging horse thieves.

This is Butte in 1921 and Anaconda Copper rules the roost. Morgan takes a job as an editorial writer for the new union-financed newspaper, the Butte Thunder. Using the nom de plume Pluvius he wages war against the Post, an Anaconda backed paper, and his opposite, the Chicago wordsmith, Cutthroat Cartwright, whose handle is Cutlass. There are a few Mack Sennett moments, mistaken identity, an increasingly confusing back-story, the obligatory mine-related deaths, walk-outs, lock-outs, bootlegging (Prohibition is in full swing) and even a fair dash of newsies and there corner battles. He manages the capture the mix of ethnicities drawn to the mines, Irish, Italian, and Welsh. This is also Doig's tribute to books, great libraries, and reading. Certainly, it could be argues that SWEET THUNDER is his most "literate" novel, which liberal quotations from the classics and enough Latin spouted to bring back memories of Catholic high school.

The novel is episodic and the plot suffers from the abrupt shifts and lack of continuity. The ending is rather too pat. All the characters are inherently good people, the only heavy is corporate America and Wall Street.

With all that, SWEET THUNDER is still Ivan Doig and it is a fun novel. There are vintage Doig moments, "As the saying was, life was serious when it made him..." and "...the hallowed goal of journalism, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

The reader wants more, but for the wrong reasons.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Sweet Thunder: A Novel
Sweet Thunder: A Novel by Ivan Doig (Hardcover - August 20, 2013)
$27.95 $18.86
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.