Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane’s long-awaited eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future. Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters more richly drawn than any Lehane has ever created, The Given Day tells the story of two families--one black, one white--swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city’s most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife.
Here, too, are some of the most influential figures of the era--Babe Ruth; Eugene O’Neill; leftist activist Jack Reed; NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois; Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson’s ruthless Red-chasing attorney general; cunning Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge; and an ambitious young Department of Justice lawyer named John Hoover.
Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time--including the Spanish Influenza pandemic--and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence and irrepressible exuberance of a country at war with, and in the thrall of, itself. As Danny, Luther, and those around them struggle to define themselves in increasingly turbulent times, they gradually find family in one another and, together, ride a rising storm of hardship, deprivation, and hope that will change all their lives.
“[An] engrossing epic. . . . A vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Dennis Lehane is the author of seven novels. These include the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; and Shutter Island, as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Images from The Given Day
The Boston Molasses Disaster
The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. A large molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph, killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days the areas still smells of molasses. (From Wikipedia).
Headline from the Boston Post, September 9, 1919
Rioters clash with National Guardsmen called in by Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge during a strike by Boston police officers.
"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
City officials in Boston were caught off guard when three civilians dropped dead of influenza in early September 1918. As September 1918 drew to a close, Boston had lost more than 1,000 citizens to the silent, relentless killer. The deadly influenza now posed a threat to the entire nation, and the world at large.
John Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933) was a Republican lawyer from Vermont who worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight; he became the 30th President of the United States (1923 - 1929).
The Boston Molasses Disaster
The headline from the Boston Post, September 9, 1919
--This text refers to the
Starred Review. In a splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction (Gone, Baby, Gone
; Mystic River
), Lehane combines 20th-century American history, a gripping story of a family torn by pride and the strictures of the Catholic Church, and the plot of a multifaceted thriller. Set in Boston during and after WWI, this engrossing epic brings alive a pivotal period in our cultural maturation through a pulsing narrative that exposes social turmoil, political chicanery and racial prejudice, and encompasses the Spanish flu pandemic, the Boston police strike of 1919 and red-baiting and anti-union violence.Danny Coughlin, son of police captain Thomas Coughlin, is a devoted young beat cop in Boston's teeming North End. Anxious to prove himself worthy of his legendary father, he agrees to go undercover to infiltrate the Bolsheviks and anarchists who are recruiting the city's poverty-stricken immigrants. He gradually finds himself sympathetic to those living in similar conditions to his fellow policemen, who earn wages well below the poverty line, work in filthy, rat-infested headquarters, are made to pay for their own uniforms and are not compensated for overtime. Danny also rebels by falling in love with the family's spunky Irish immigrant maid, a woman with a past. Danny's counterpart in alienation is Luther Laurence, a spirited black man first encountered in the prologue when Babe Ruth sees him playing softball in Ohio. After Luther kills a man in Tulsa, he flees to Boston, where he becomes intertwined with Danny's family. This story of fathers and sons, love and betrayal, idealism and injustice, prejudice and brotherly feeling is a dark vision of the brutality inherent in human nature and the dire fate of some who try to live by ethical standards. It's also a vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit. In short, this nail-biter carries serious moral gravity. (Sept.)
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