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The Given Day: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 23, 2008
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The Amazon Book Review
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
This is the story of Danny Coughlin, a Boston police officer, and Luther Laurence, a black man who is running from some trouble in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These are characters you will come to know and care about a great deal. The story begins in 1918 in Boston, a time of unrest with the end of the First World War and the influenza plague. Police worked long hours for very little pay in terrible conditions. The reaction to Bolsheviks and anarchists, who were labeled terrorists, is relevant to today's world. Dennis Lehane paints a picture of racism, hatred and distrust.
Mr. Lehane has worked historic people, such as Babe Ruth and Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, into the story. The stories about Babe Ruth sparked many interesting conversations as half my family are Boston Red Sox fans and the other half New York Yankee fans. I learned quite a bit of history from reading The Given Day. It is so captivating that I wanted to find corroborating material on the Internet as I was reading. For instance, I had never read about the East St. Louis race riots.
This is a stay up late, can't put down book. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history.
The characters can be a bit thin at times, their interactions sometimes predictable and maudlin, but Lehane excels in capturing the feel of the town and the times. Labor and ethnic strife boil below the surface. Workers toil in brutal conditions for low pay with no security. The Irish workers who have managed to get one rung up the ladder fear and hate not the bosses, but rather the new Italian immigrants (not to mention the few blacks in town). The political bosses even subject the Boston police rank-and-file to low pay, unsanitary working conditions, and extremely long hours. That summer of 1919 is known today as The Red Summer. In Boston, a potent mix of much-aggrieved workers, bomb-throwing anarchists, and a tyrannical police commissioner erupted in savage street violence during the Boston police strike.
Lehane also sends Coughlin and Laurence each to take a journey of redemption. Coughlin repudiates his role as a spy in the police union and goes on to become its leader. Laurence flees Tulsa and his wife, but is taken in by leaders in the local NAACP whom he repays with courage and loyalty.Read more ›
In retrospect, "Mystic River" was Lehane's first departure - from the Kenzie-Gennaro series that he had made his name with, and boy was it a successful venture. Emboldened, Lehane's next work, Shutter Island, delved deeper into the realm of psychological thrillers than his previous novels, but in this reader's opinion that is where he started to slip up. The plot was predictable and the dialogue stilted, portending the bigger mess that was to come.
Five years later, Lehane is unleashing his passion project: a sweeping historical epic set in the harsh life of Boston post-World War I. Every page of this hefty tome screams of ambition and hard work. Just how sprawling is "The Given Day"? The cast of characters is mapped out after the title page to help the reader keep everyone straight.
Don't get me wrong - Lehane is an deft enough writer and a smart enough man to pull this off, and I'm sure that many readers will enjoy this book very much. But darned if it doesn't creak under the weight of all Lehane's lofty ambitions; "The Given Day" suffers from a serious case of too-muchness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't know. Loved all the other books I've read of his. Can't get into this one. Maybe I'll put it down for awhile.Published 3 hours ago by Karen Clements
This guy can write. "The Given Day" is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time.Published 3 days ago by quark055
Great story, great characters, and wonderful writing. I could compliment ad nauseam but book two in the series is calling.Published 28 days ago by Ira Cates
Brilliant, intricate plot--trust me you will not get there first! Love the surprises, the characters, love the fact that I didn't guess how it would all fall out. Read morePublished 28 days ago by SusanKL
At first, I had a really difficult time following Lehane's constant switch from character to character. I liked it when he finally got in the groove.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed "The Given Day" as it provided a historical story about Babe Ruth, Boston Police Force and labor unions. I thought the story wrapped up too easily. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Luke
Very good story with strong characters with very interesting stories of their own and I loved the stories about the struggles of people during a time in our history that was very... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mary P. Lehman
I've read several other books by Dennis Lehane. This was a major disappointment. It took 200 pages to develop the story line. It was a difficult, slow moving read.Published 1 month ago by r146