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To Kill a Mockingbird Hardcover – September, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 9,197 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout's first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children's consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well--in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout's hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind "when you really see them." By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Spacek, with her lilting Southern accent, perfectly captures the voice of Scout, the young girl whose life is thrown into turmoil when her father, the upright and highly ethical lawyer Atticus Finch, takes on the defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Their sleepy Alabama town may never be the same and Spacek's exceptional pacing propels this Pulitzer Prize-winner-a staple of many high school reading lists-to its inexorable conclusion. The 1962 film, starring Gregory Peck (who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch), was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1995.α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 35th Anniv edition (September 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006017322X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060173227
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9,197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It hardly seems like 50 years since I picked up this book late one rainy night when it was first published, after my mom had been raving about the book for weeks, trying to get me to read it. Well, what the heck, the late movie was boring that evening and there was nothing else on the TV... next thing I knew, it was two o'clock in the morning and I had just turned the final page on what was the most magical reading experience of my entire life.

From the opening line, "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow..." Lee hooks the reader with a deceptively simple story of a Southern family and a Southern town caught up in a cataclysmic moral crisis, and keeps us enthralled till the very last word. Lee's writing style is that of the storyteller who mesmerizes her audience telling a tale so simple, yet so compelling, that you never want it to end. Her narrator is Scout Finch, a delightfully devilish little tomboy who sees her world through the all-observant eyes of childhood. Scout is one of the most enchanting characters in modern American fiction. She's bright, funny, totally real; there's nothing contrived about her. She's someone we all knew in first or second grade, or wished we'd known. Scout lives with her brother Jem, four years her senior, her lawyer father Atticus, and their housekeeper Calpurnia, in a sleepy Alabama town where everybody knows or is related to everybody else. Lee spends the first half of the book drawing us into the life of the town and the Finch family, Scout's hilarious and problematic adjustment to first grade, and brings us into the mystery surrounding the notorious-yet-never-seen Boo Radley. The second half of the book is about the moral crisis that tears the town apart.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oddly, I'd never read To Kill a Mockingbird as a high school student. Nor had I ever seen the famous film with Gregory Peck. Fortunately, I also avoided learning the entire plot through cultural osmosis. Sure, I knew who Boo Radley was-- didn't I? Atticus Finch... yeah, I know who that is... right?
Boy, was I wrong. Last week I finally decided it'd been long enough, and I sank into Harper Lee's only novel with high expectations. And I was certainly not disappointed. With its slow, warm and evocative opening chapters, Mockingbird starts off like a sulty summer day in the South. Lee depicts a South of "whistling bob white," biscuits and warm milk, and ladies who on the hottest days bathe twice by noon and then douse themselves in lavender-smelling powder.
Jean-Louise Finch, better known as Scout, narrates the story with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Scout reminded me of some of Carson McCullers's heroines (Member of the Wedding, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter), but without the morbid loneliness and heartbreak. Scout might be described as a tomboy, but that would be doing her a disservice. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their dimunitive friend Dill (real name: Charles Baker Harris. "Your name's longer'n you are," Jem points out) evoke the timeless place of childhood.
As for Atticus Finch, what can one say about a father who seems to embody the greatest of virtues? He is tolerant, patient, kind, and understanding. He does not meddle with his children's affairs, he speaks to them as fellow adults (he allows them to call him "Atticus"), and his skill as a lawyer is legendary. Lee presents Atticus in a tough and sensitive manner, so that his believability is paramount.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just finished this book a few moments ago, and I am completely awed by this story. Harper Lee has done an excellent job bringing this 1930s Alabama childhood to life. I can see why To Kill a Mockingbird has won the Pulitzer Prize, garnered an Academy Award for the movie version, and ultimately become a timely classic enjoyed by many generations.
To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of two children, sister Scout and brother Jem, and their childhood during three years in the midst of the Great Depression. Scout and Jem spend most of their summers with their summer-neighbor, Dill, making up plays and spying on the town recluse, Boo Radley. During the school year (minus Dill, who goes back home to Mississippi), Scout finds herself in trouble one too many times and struggles with the concept of being a lady, especially when all she wants to do is wear overalls and beat up her classmates.
Then everything changes one fall.... Scout and Jem's father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer in their town of Maycomb, Alabama, is appointed to the defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman (although not of the highest caliber), Mayella Ewell. The fact of this case rocks the town of Maycomb, and with Scout and Jem feeling the brunt of their classmates ridicule when they realize Atticus is on Tom's side.
I was simply floored while reading this novel. I wasn't expecting a "classic" to be so readable. Now I know what I've been missing! To Kill a Mockingbird is a piece of our American history that depicts racism and prejudice, childhood innocence, and the perseverence of a man who risked it all to stand up for what he believed in. Wonderful portrayal and one I will read again.
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