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The Given Day (Coughlin, Book 1) Paperback – September 15, 2009
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A seasoned TV and film actor, Michael Boatman is an excellent choice for Lehane's historical fiction. Set in Boston at the time of the 1919 policemen's strike, the novel involves a range of characters including Babe Ruth and sundry African-American, Irish, Irish-American, Italian and Italian-American men and women. Boatman creates a clear and engaging persona for each and handles all the accents convincingly. His pacing helps draw listeners into the lives contorted by the social, economic and political turmoil of the era that Lehane describes so exquisitely. Fans of Mystic River will be swept into this full-bodied production. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, July 7). (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Before that infamous strike actually takes place, we get a view through the lives of Danny Coughlin, a patrolman son of Thomas Coughlin, a bigwig in the BPD, first fighting the Spanish American flu outbreak of 1918 that still ranks as the deadliest epidemic in U.S. history, and then becoming gradually more interested and finally galvanized by the forming of a policeman's union to fight for a decent wage and to do something about their deplorable work conditions.
As with the nation, to join unions at that time was risky business indeed, as the idealogies of the Industrial Revolution still lingered, the "haves" refusing to part with their status and fortunes, preferring to leave the working class broke and destitute. That attitude is still with us today, a lesson we should not forget.
Add to that the additional stories of Babe Ruth's time as a Boston Red Sox player, and a Negro ball player who finds himself in real hot water with the criminal element of Greenwood, the north end of downtown in Tulsa and has to flee to Boston to stay alive where he meets Coughlin.
The tale is gripping, descriptive and sympathetic to the working class sensibilities. Much actual history is involved, including the gigantic molasses tank explosion that killed 21 and nearly wiped out Boston's North End and the hysteria with anarchists and Russian agitators also running loose in the city and country, bombing government buildings and getting tied up with the working class, who find themselves compared to the terrorists as far as the Boston PD is concerned.
Lehane's style is at once captivating and draws you in quickly. "The Given Day" ranks up there with "Shutter Island" as one of his best books and is well worth the read.