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The Son (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Fiction Finalists) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 28, 2013


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Philipp Meyer
There Will Be Blood
"The point is that despite all that bloodshed, here we all are, still breathing, still falling in love and having children, still living our lives." Read the Amazon interview with author Philipp Meyer on Omnivoracious.com, the Amazon Books blog.

Product Details

  • Series: Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Fiction Finalists
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062120395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062120397
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: In 1859, Eli McCullough, the 13-year-old son of Texas pioneers, is captured in a brutal Comanche raid on his family's homestead. First taken as a slave along with his less intrepid brother, Eli assimilates himself into Comanche culture, learning their arts of riding, hunting, and total warfare. When the tribe succumbs to waves of disease and settlers, Eli's only option is a return to Texas, where his acquired thirsts for freedom and self-determination set a course for his family's inexorable rise through the industries of cattle and oil. The Son is Philipp Meyer's epic tale of more than 150 years of money, family, and power, told through the memories of three unforgettable narrators: Eli, now 100 and known simply as "the Colonel"; Eli's son Peter, called "the great disappointment" for his failure to meet the family’s vision of itself; and Eli's great-granddaughter Jeanne Anne, who struggles to maintain the McCullough empire in the economic frontier of modern Texas. The book is long but never dull—Meyer's gift (and obsession) for historical detail and vernacular is revelatory, and the distinct voices of his fully fleshed-and-blooded characters drive the story. And let there be blood: some readers will flinch at Meyer's blunt (and often mesmerizing) portrayal of violence in mid-19th century Texas, but it’s never gratuitous. His first novel, 2009's American Rust, drew praise for its stark and original characterization of post-industrial America, but Meyer has outdone himself with The Son, as ambitious a book as any you’ll read this year--or any year. Early reviewers call it a masterpiece, and while it's easy to dismiss so many raves as hyperbole, The Son is an extraordinary achievement. --Jon Foro

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Inside Meyer’s massive Texas saga is perhaps the best Indian captive story ever written: in 1849, 13-year-old Eli McCullough is abducted by Comanches after they’ve raped his mother and sister. Eli adapts. He learns the language and how to hunt and raid, and by age 16, he’s a fierce warrior. In the process, the reader is treated to a fascinating portrait of the Comanches, including a Melville-like cataloging of all they did with the buffalo. Eventually, young Eli returns to the white world, but after an affair with a judge’s wife worthy of Little Big Man, he’s forced into the Texas Rangers. Later still, he fights for the South and steals a fortune from the North. He returns to South Texas to found an unimaginably large ranch, which he adds to by trumping up a massacre of a distinguished Mexican family, the Garcias. No scion measures up to Eli, unless it’s Jeanne, his great-granddaughter, who ruthlessly presides over her oil and gas well into the twenty-first century. And, in a different way, Peter, Eli’s son, as softhearted as his father was ruthless, makes his mark. He alone laments the massacre of the Garcias, but he’s an indifferent rancher, and his love affair with the only surviving Garcia threatens to disembowel the McCullough empire. If you want to build a place like Texas, Meyer seems to say, only ruthlessness will suffice. In his many pages, Meyer takes time to be critical of Edna Ferber, but his tale is best compared to Giant. Lonesome Dove also come to mind, as well as the novels of Douglas C. Jones, Alan LeMay, and Benjamin Capps. --John Mort

Customer Reviews

This is a great story about a Texas family through the generations.
bailey
I don't mind stories that go back & forth between past & present, but in this case it was just very confusing....especially for about the first half of the book.
Barbara J. Hurst
Well written, a good story, interesting characters and universal themes.
BrokenArrow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

308 of 332 people found the following review helpful By Evie Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richly imagined from the fecund history of the Lone Star State arrives THE SON, an absorbing family saga that echoes through time and crosses cultures to chronicle the life and legacy of fictional patriarch Colonel Eli McCullough, the first male child born in the new Republic of Texas on March 2, 1836.

Author Philipp Meyer's magnificent stylistic gifts, which I first discovered in his debut novel American Rust: A Novel [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover), are deployed once again to maximum advantage to give full expression to the heart and soul of the American Western Frontier. Profound with anthropological, cultural and social subtexts, the commanding narrative of THE SON, in the refreshing absence of hyperbole and Western clichés, tells a realistic story built upon tension, tragedy and violence to transform an Old World into the New.

I was so captivated by the lives and doings of the McCullough family, the Comanche Indians and the other interconnected families on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border of this story, that for the past few days I've found myself in an altered state of mind, doing little else but reading this novel as fast as I could but not wanting it to end. When I did reach the last page yesterday, THE SON continued to gallop full speed across the plains of my imagination. I have yet to come to a halt and the story continues to insinuate itself intellectually and emotionally into my mind.

THE SON may be a familiar story of the American West but the Philipp Meyer's voice is distinctly his own.
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129 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is nothing small about the state of Texas nor is there anything small about this epic masterpiece of a novel, which will surely catapult Philipp Meyer into the ranks of the finest American novelists.

What he has accomplished is sheer magic: he has turned the American dream on its ear and revealed it for what it really is: "soil to sand, fertile to barren, fruit to thorns." The most astounding thing is, you don't know how good it really is until you close the last page and step back and absorb what you have just experienced.

There are three key characters in this book: Colonel Eli McCullough, kidnapped by the Comanche tribe at an early age and forced to navigate the shaky ground between his life as a white settler and his life as a respected adoptee-turned-Comanche warrior...his son, Peter, the moral compass of the story who resorts to self-hatred after the massacre of his Mexican neighbors...and Peter's granddaughter Jeanne, a savvy oil woman who has profited mightily from the land.

In ways, the three represent a wholeness of the Texas story: the id, the ego, and the superego of history. Philipp Meyer weaves back and forth among their stories and each one is compelling in its own way. Eli's is sheer adrenalin, a boy-man who is only slightly bothered by the constraints of society or conscience. Jeanne is a girl-woman with a head for the family business in a time and place where women are considered secondary to men.

And Peter, ah, Peter. He is "The Son", the diarist who sees the moral shadings, who realizes that not all life is a matter of economics, that the strong should not be encouraged while the weak perish, and that we do have choices in our actions.
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116 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Bob G. on June 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Don't read this book because it's being called a masterpiece, or because Meyer is often compared to Faulkner, Hemingway, and Cormac McCarthy, or because it's being hailed as a new classic in the Western genre, or any similar reasons. Read it because it's a good read, a damn good story that's well told.

Westerns aren't everyone's cup of tea. There are only so many hard-bitten, quick-thinking anti-heroes you can read about before the formula feels old.

This novel may technically be a Western, but it never falls into easy cliches or formulas. The characters are three dimensional, believable, and at times genuinely awesome. The opening pages, in which Eli McCullough dictates a brief outline of his life, plunges you into the world that you occupy for the rest of the book. It is a world of unthinkable hardship and cruelty, often with little sense of ethics or even empathy as most of us understand it. This, Meyer is saying, is how the west was won. One cruel warrior culture defeated another cruel warrior culture, paving the way for more gentle classes to move in. It's not a pretty tale, but it feels tangible and real.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Frost on June 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Son" fits the definitions of both epic for its scale and great American novel for its story. It is the story of the McCullough family, from around 1836 to 2012 told primarily from the perspectives of three family members. Eli McCullough, also referred to as "The Colonel", is the son of an Irish immigrant. The story begins with him as a child, near Fredericksburg, Texas, and follows him to his 100th birthday. Peter McCullough is Eli's son. Much of his story is told during the period of World War I. Jeanne McCullough is Peter's granddaughter. Her story is told from around 1936 to 2012.

More than just the story of a single family, "The Son" is a story of Texas. We see settlement and conflict between white settlers and the Commanche and then the Mexicans. We see the establishment of Statehood and the secession of the Civil War. We see the ups and downs of cattle ranching and oil.

The narrative is structured by rotating through the three POVs (points of view) - a chapter from Eli's perspective, a chapter from Peter's perspective, a chapter from Jeanne's perspective and then back to Eli, and so on. All three characters have engaging stories to tell. Eli's is the most exciting, dealing with events such as his capture by Commanche, serving as a Texas Ranger, fighting in the Civil War, and establishing his ranch. Peter's is the most intellectually engaging and as he struggles with the ethics and morality of his family and the other white settlers with regards to their treatment of Mexican neighbors. Jeanne's story is the most emotional as she struggles with establishing her place in both the ranching and oil businesses, in times where women didn't have a place in either.

Because Eli lives to be 100, he has roles in both Peter's and Jeanne's stories.
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More About the Author

Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, where he dropped out of high school and got a GED. After five years working as a bike mechanic and an orderly in a trauma center, he decided to attend college, getting into Cornell University at the age of 22. He graduated with a degree in English and he got a job on Wall Street as a derivatives trader. After paying off his student loans, he left Wall Street hoping write full time, but after several years of failure moved back to Baltimore and took jobs as an EMT and construction worker. In 2005 he received a fellowship from the University of Texas's Michener Center for Writers. In 2009 he published his first novel American Rust, which won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was an Economist Book of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book, a Washington Post Book of the Year, and made numerous other "best-of" list. Meyer is a Guggenheim Fellow and one of the second generation of the New Yorker's 20 best writers under 40. His second novel, The Son, is being published in fifteen languages. He lives mostly in Austin, Texas.

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The Son (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Fiction Finalists)
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