The parts I enjoyed concerned the details of life with the Comanche.
I don't think I would give this a strong recommendation because the entire book was difficult for me to follow - the story line jumps back and forth. I found the lack of continuity confusing, often wondering if I'd accidentally skipped some essential part of the story. The ending may have been true to life but was not satisfying.
I believe the story overall was interesting due to the history and details covered. I really did not care for the fragmented manner in which it was told, however. I wanted to quit several times out of frustration.
I loved the first chapter. Then everything fell apart for me and never came back together again. While the author covered a lot of ground in the story, the character development was exceedingly flawed. The great grandaughter was the worst though all of them just picked up character traits like one would collect lint, without rhyme or reason. I think the author tried to make good points about the development of Texas and I just wished those points had been wrapped in a better story. I had intended to get American Rust but didn't bother after this disappointment.
While people differ in their capability to fight, the fighting spirit of the south in the civil war much less Texans, make the behavior of the mom & older brother unrealistic. It reads more like a backward projection of contemporary values.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This story of the west, and the men who settled there, taking it from the Indians and Mexicans is one of the most interesting, detailed accounts I've ever come across. Although a work of fiction, the historically accurate story follows several generations of one family, beginning when a young white boy is kidnapped and raised by a tribe of Indians . . . and continues up to current time. The settling of the west was not "Little House on the Prairie" by a long shot . . . Even now, after listening to THE SON, I'm not entirely sure that I like most of those who chose to tame the west . . . and sold their souls in the process. The almighty dollar, oil wells, and greed abound . . . yet there is a fierceness, a loyalty, a code that cannot be denied . . . you will have to listen for yourself . . . and decide who and what about this family that you respect . . . and in the end what is really worth the sacrifice.
I prefer a more linear narrative. Many times I could not grasp how the 3 main and one finale characters had affected each other with the jumps in time. Also the audio just wasn't on and this really showed in the intro and exits.
I found his background facts interesting and added a great deal to the story/stories. This is particularly true with the early indian times and "Plan of San Diego" (1915-1918) times.
Although I had heard of the mexican revolution involving the use of US military under Gen Black Jack Pershing the border troubles and killings of 1915-1918 were new and interesting to me.
I would be willing to try another Philipp Meyer book if I was sure it would be a beginning to end style of narrative. This book was like popcorn, air popped, with no butter or salt. Jumping around in time without much lasting flavor. Some people like there popcorn that way but not enough to to find it sold in movie theaters.
My download sounded over modulated. I enjoyed the actors and found their timing excellent. It was more on the technical side of the audio book.
None although I was not fond of the use of a "diary" to tell a story.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
“There were people who ate the earth and those that stood around and watched them do it.”
So said Lillian Hellman in “The Little Foxes”, and the quote is apt for the McCullough dynasty in “The Son”. For all of its ambition to present a sweeping epic of Texas history through the eyes of three generational representatives, these three characters came across as soulless and selfish, with no clear motivations for their lives, simply grasping for what they could acquire no matter the cost or who had to pay it – generally the Mexicans and other family members.
Eli’s story is admittedly the most colorful, with his abduction by the Comanches, his life with them, and afterwards in the Texas Rangers and the Confederate Army. But none of it ever felt as adventurous as expected. Much of it was just gruesome and murderous, but quite emotionless, even for the victims. The ease with which he changed allegiances, killing without conscience the enemy of the moment, spoke of a man with no soul or direction. Love was just as empty, expressed almost exclusively in sophomoric sexual terms (and too often with barnyard vocabulary).
Peter (Eli’s son) and Jeannie (Eli’s great granddaughter) each eventually inherit to various degrees the empire, but exist only through the prism of Eli’s life – Peter hating him and Jeannie mythologizing him. Neither ever feel adequate with themselves, so they are weak and inadequate characters, and I found them essentially sterile. Lacking heartfelt emotions, I felt nothing for them. All background characters were just that: background and generally one-dimensional, too often stereotyped.
Narration – 2/3’s good. Patton and Shepherd did well with Eli and Peter. Kate Mulgrew to my ears was grating and rough, trying too hard to portray a tough Texas gal, which just came across as a whiskey roughened broad, often indistinguishable from the male voices.
I know this is a dissenting vote – most reviewers loved the book. I felt it was cynical and spoke to the futility of life spent only on building dynasties and not relationships. I'll give it three stars for ambition and many of the well written passages, but I found little inspiring or uplifting to recommend it.
Detailed research and knowledge of early Texas history
History of Texas from all points of view
I really loved three of the four narrators, however, Kate Mulgrew is the worst narrator I've ever heard on any Audible recording. Whoever picked her to voice a Texan has never been south of the Red River. She has no clue what a west Texas accent or any other Texas accent sounds like, and so she simply affects a broadly exaggerated hick voice. Her twang was a caricature and made her parts of the story hard to listen to.
The other narrators, Will Patton and Scott Shepherd especially, were terrific and more authentic. Why didn't anyone let Kate listen to them before she embarrassed herself with her part?
This book just became tedious to listen to, and I would have to force myself to finish it. Not one likable character out of the three major ones, and the only interesting character was Eli, the original patriarch of the Texas family. The characters were not well-rounded, and I found it difficult to even care what happened to any of them.
The violence and lack of any sort of warmth or affection was also a severe turn-off. Even one character's love affair with a woman seemed more based on guilt and obsession than anything real.
The only reason I even awarded it two stars was because some historical research seemed to have been done for the book, and it was interesting reading about some of the history of the times in this area.
The final ending was an unrealistic bore, sounding phony and contrived, as though the author was trying a little too hard for "poetic justice." His theme, "the chickens will come home to roost," was beaten over your head just a little too much.
The narrators were all great, and I awarded them 5 stars.
Complex. Nostalgic. Brutal.
Peter McCullough, because he agonized over his good fortune, verses the right way to live life on earth.
When Maria Garcia returned to the Ranch, and Peter fell in love with her. His journals were filled with sharp longing; their situation, emotions were raw and haunting.
Were it possible, yes.. but I enjoyed each different chapter, a different character and time frame, converging into the big picture.
It. Was. Amazing.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
I enjoyed reading The Son. It had a great combination of gritty, cowboy and Indian story telling, and also a lush, nostalgic feel. I loved the descriptions by Eli, the book’s namesake, of the Texas countryside when the grasses were high and they went on forever. As Eli rides the plains with the Indians, the descriptions of the countryside seemed to evoke the now long gone beauty and purity of the natural surroundings. The Indians certainly weren’t romanticized, but one did get a feeling from reading this book that our lives now are smaller in many ways than back when the Indians ruled or roamed the plains. When Eli returns from his captivity, his life back with the whites seems so confining and almost stultifying.
Eli, although he has a good and moral side, is also a man who stops at nothing to get what he wants and stops at nothing to defend his family. His ultimate greed, violence, and excess sets up one of the novels themes of justice or payback. I love the way that justice plays out in the end. It’s like history looping back on itself as we finally find out what has happened to Jeanne McCullough, the Colonel’s (Eli’s) great -granddaughter.
I thought the ending of the book with the Colonel was perfect, too. The nine-year-old Indian boy following after the Colonel was like an echo of Eli’s earlier days and just seemed such a fitting way to end.
“When the people were finished we killed every living dog and horse. I took the chief’s bladder for a tobacco pouch; it was tanned and embroidered with beads. In his shield, stuffed between the layers, was Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
WHEN THE SUN came up, we discovered a boy of nine years. We left him as a witness. At noon we reached the river and saw the boy had followed us with his bow—for twenty miles he had kept up with men on horseback—for twenty miles he had been running to his death. A child like that would be worth a thousand men today. We left him standing on the riverbank. As far as I know he is looking for me yet.”
(Kindle Locations 8290-8295).
This ending speaks to one of the major themes of the book, that of the rise and fall of empires. The empire could be the American west, the Comanche nation, OR , in this case, the McCullough family. All are doomed to fall. People are getting soft. This passage where Jeanne McCullough is thinking, states this change perfectly.
”But the slackening. By five she and her brothers were throwing loops. By ten she was at the branding fire. Her grandchildren were not good at anything and did not have much interest in anything either. She wondered if the Colonel would even recognize them as his descendants, felt briefly defensive for them, but of course it was true. Something was happening to the human race.
That is what all old people think, she decided…
When the first men arrived, she told them, there were mammoths, giant buffalo, giant horses, saber-toothed tigers, and giant bears. The American cheetah—the only animal on earth that could outrun a pronghorn antelope.
Her grandsons … went inside to watch television.”
(Kindle Locations 7882-7892).
Where the Colonel is hard and ruthless, His son, Peter, is almost the opposite. He has taken on the guilt of his father’s excesses and is compassionate and caring. I loved his character. I listened to the book and thought Peter’s voice was fantastic! What a great narrator. His voice seemed to take on the sadness and guilty burden that Peter carried with him. And I loved Peter’s story. Early on we find out the Peter has committed some act that has made him a pariah to the family. Since he seems so sensitive, moral, and thoughtful, it is hard to imagine what this act could be. That sets up a wonderful tension that carries on through the novel.
I just now saw a McCullough family tree diagram in the front of the Kindle edition! Seeing that earlier would have saved me a lot of initial confusion. The story sprawls out over many generations and flips back and forth a lot. I was listening to the book most of the time and was a bit confused until about 200 pages in as to who the characters were and how they fit together. It all fell into place, and I enjoyed putting together the puzzle pieces, but I think referring to the family tree in the beginning would have been great, too.