Shawnessy is the epitome of the place and period in which he lives, a rural land of springlike women, shady gamblers, wandering vagabonds, and soapbox orators. Yet here on the banks of the Shawmucky River, which weaves its primitive course through Raintree County, Indiana, he also feels and obeys ancient rhythms.
A number-one best seller when it was first published in 1948, this powerful novel is a compelling vision of 19th-century America with timeless resonance.
©1948 Ross Lockridge, Jr.; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"An achievement of art and purpose, a cosmically brooding book full of significance and beauty." (New York Times)
If there's even been a candidate for the great American novel, this is certainly one of the front-runners. The only novel written by Ross Lockridge, Jr., who committed suicide shortly after publication, this tale of the United States and its history, seen from 1876, is as broad and deep as the Mississippi, and elevated as a New York skyscraper, and as full of wonder as any novel one can imagine. Both an intelligent book and one that is accessible to all, in spite of its length, Raintree County is my personal favorite American novel of all time. It combines the introspection of Emerson with the vast characterization of John Irving; the humor of Fitzgerald (when he was funny), with the seriousness of Steinbeck. In short, this is a novel not to miss. Don't be dissuaded by its length; it flies by, and you'll not regret reading (or listening to) it.
This is a fantastic book. I bought it because I have vowed to listen to some of the "Classics." I had never even heard of this book previously. The writing is incredible, verging on sheer poetry, though never going over the line to be pretentious or inaccessible. The narration is very fine. Of the hundreds of books I've listened to, this would be in the top five to take with me to listen to again on a desert island.
I don't understand it! How can a 43 hour book keep my attention throughout? One reason is the "Above Excellent" rating I would give to the reader. Without him, the book would have been much less listenable. If the great American novel could be defined, this book would be it.
If you get a chance to see the movie - please don't!
It's very badly done and has only a nodding acquaintance with this book.
This the best piece of American liturature I have read in my 65 plus years. At the core of the complexity of the narrative the soul of a new idea in the history of human-kind comes forth and joins with the substance of being. A beautiful book.
The idealist, the intellectual, the politician and the capitalist vie to define life. This is my favorite book of all times and the performance of Mr James was superb!
This is, simply put, likely the closest we've ever come to the mythic Great American novel. It's hard to describe, but skips forward and backward through time over the course of the 18th Century in the memory and dreams of Johnny Shawnessy. It's one part Joyce, one part Hawthorne, and ninety-eight parts unlike anything else out there. It is sentimental and patriotic without being jingoistic, pious and moral without being preachy, romantic and erotic without ever stooping into the prurient. Simply, it is wonderful, and well read in this audio edition.
I had never heard of this book.
Having always considered Gatsby and Moby Dick to be the best books ever written, I have changed my opinion. I think this one is far and away the Great American Novel and a must read for true lovers of American Lit. It is too bad the author died before he could write another one like this but he could not have done better.
What I can't understand is why this has been left out of the American canon.
Probably not from Ross Lockridge, this one was somewhat long winded. I found myself at times picturing the author jumping up and down and screaming, look how many long words I can use. You can definitely tell that this was a first novel. The story was overall a decent idea and the characters were true to the times. Lloyd James did an excellent job narrating. Easily able to pick out the voices of the characters and he brought them to life in a very vibrant reading.
The best thing I have to say about this book is that the narrator is very good. The novel itself wanders quite a bit. It jumps from one episode of the hero's life to the other without conclusion. The jumping around makes it hard to follow in an audiobook if you stop every couple of hours. These minor irritations are nothing I would usually write a review about. What bothered me most about this book are the anti Christian, pro Communism views espoused by the characters. The hero is atheist and his best friend is Communist, therefore you are subjected to long soliloquies about the advantages of a communist society.
Written in 1947, recorded in 2008 to take advantage of the ever growing populace who love to down load audio books. Considered a classic in its day it motivated Hollywood to make a movie I believe it would be a dud in today’s environment. It appears the author was paid by the word as the dialogue is tedious, drawn out by roughly 40%. The author; far too many times to count, e.g., The clock on the cupola displayed the time; displayed the time, displayed the time. O.K. I got it move on, move on already. It was not uncommon to hear repetitive statements as many as 8 times. Seems like every thought the author ever had was included in this book.
There are two main characters; John and the Professor who pontificate labouredly on the meaning of life including on multiple occasions, is there really a God or do atomic forces bonding together determine life after death?
The author references modern day (1947) technology that would be the envy of Jules Verne in an 1876 setting which makes it unbelievable.
A very lengthy book that with regularity leaves you hanging until the last two hours where everything is very neatly and conveniently tidied up.
The Lloyd James however does an admirable job of changing voices, 5 star job.
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