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The Given Day: A Novel Paperback – September 4, 2012
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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“[Lehane] deserves to be included among the most interesting and accomplished American novelists of any genre or category. . . . A powerful moment in history, and Lehane makes the most of it. . . . Heartfelt and moving.” (Washington Post Book World)
“This may be Lehane’s finest work. . . . But The Given Day is more than a history lesson. . . . Lehane captures the essence of being American in a fast-changing society that eerily reflects our own.” (USA Today)
“The Given Day is a vast historical novel. . . . Spectacular details. . . . Finely thought-out. . . . . Many stunningly managed scenes.” (Boston Globe)
“Steeped in history but wearing its research lightly, The Given Day is a meaty, rich, old-fashioned and satisfying tale. I’d call it Lehane’s masterpiece.” (Seattle Times)
“Superbly written, meticulously researched. . . . A thoughtful, provocative exploration of race, fame, power, and political corruption in American culture. . . . The Given Day places [Lehane] in the first rank of modern American novelists.” (Associated Press)
“Gut-wrenching force. . . . A majestic, fiery epic. . . . The Given Day is a huge, impassioned, intensively researched book that brings history alive.” (New York Times)
“[A] work of admirable ambition and scope. . . . Lehane is as much like contemporaries George Pelecanos and Richard Price as he is like the bygone Boston-based John P. Marquand, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
“One of the fall’s biggest books—and not just because it’s 704 pages. It’s Lehane’s most ambitious and literary work.” (USA Today)
“A splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction. . . . A vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit. In short, this nail-biter carries serious moral gravity.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Brilliantly constructed. . . . Like E. L. Doctorow in Ragtime, Lehane captures the sense of a country coming of age, vividly dramatizing how the conflicting emotions and tortured dreams that drive individual human lives also send a nation roiling forward.” (Booklist (starred review))
From the Back Cover
Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, bestselling author Dennis Lehane's extraordinary eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads where past meets future. Filled with a cast of richly drawn, unforgettable characters, 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. Coursing through the pivotal events of a turbulent epoch, it explores the crippling violence and irrepressible exuberance of a country at war with, and in the thrall of, itself.
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I truly enjoyed this book and ended up reading the entire series. I would say this book was the best of the three. I really liked the protagonist, Danny, and felt the characters in this book were (mostly) well-rounded. What really grabbed my attention was the similarities between this period of time in Chicago and current day America. Disagreements about unions and their role in business, mistrust of police and abuse of power at multiple levels, racial tensions, "terrorists", immigrants and civil unrest were themes that became a huge part of this story and it was startling to see how much of the theme of this book mirrored actual events happening today. I encouraged several other people to read this book specifically to get their opinions about the politics of the time and their thoughts about the parellels of that time and current disagreements in the US.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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