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Back to Blood: A Novel | [Tom Wolfe]

Back to Blood: A Novel

As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay - with officer Nestor Camacho on board - Tom Wolfe is off and running. Here is a big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now. Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe's previous best-selling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.
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Publisher's Summary

A big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now.

As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay - with officer Nestor Camacho on board - Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor; the black police chief; a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night - until lately, the love of Nestor's life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin' little brother; a billionaire porn addict; crack dealers in the 'hoods; "de-skilled" conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair; "spectators" at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night's orgy; yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an "Active Adult" condo; and a nest of shady Russians.

Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe's previous best-selling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.

©2012 Tom Wolfe (P)2012 Hachette

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (533 )
5 star
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3.6 (442 )
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4.2 (438 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Cynthia Alexandria, VA, United States 11-04-12
    Cynthia Alexandria, VA, United States 11-04-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Masterful Story-tel!ing & Great Narration!"

    Tom Wolfe has done it again! No one tells a story like Wolfe. As always,l his command of the English language combined with great story-telling and a liberal dose of satire has resulted in a novel that I simply could not stop listening to, even though I really needed to get some sleep. Lou Diamond Phillips' narration was amazing. I didn't feel like he was reading the book, but rather telling a colorful story. I also enjoyed the added production value of Latin music that made me feel like I was actually in Miami. I highly recommend this highly entertaining listen.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 02-18-13
    Richard Delman San Francisco 02-18-13 Member Since 2006

    65 y/o father of two sons. Married 25 yrs. Audible member for 8 yrs. I can hardly read books with my eyes any more. I love reviewing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too much. Too much. Too much. Too much. Too much."

    Get the picture? Tom Wolfe holds a unique place in American journalism over the past fifty years. Ever since Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers, Mr. Wolfe has been writing extraordinarily over the top stories about whatever catches his fancy. IMHO, the Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full are his best works by far. His gifts are many. His ear for dialects across the country is amazing. He creates some of the most cinematic scenes that you will ever read. Much of his writing is really memorable. He has roamed around our culture and chosen some wide-ranging aspects of it, each of his books being meticulously detailed to the nth degree. Lou Diamond Phillips, BTW, is the perfect narrator for these books. He has actorly skills, but in this book he is forced to make a large number of noises that should have been edited out. Rigorously slashed.
    And here lies the problem. Mr. Wolfe is now so large and iconic that editors must blanche at the sight of him. Overdoing is his trademark. There are times when this approach works beautifully. There are other times when he should turn down the volume, way way down. And he doesn't. This is a story about Miami, and about all of its various races-ethnic-cultural-artistic (see what I mean?) dimensions. It is over-reaching, but in some places it hits the mark. Nestor Camacho rescues a Haitian Immigrant from the top of a seventy foot mast, and manages to first climb up the mast with only his arms. Then he grabs the guy with his legs (oh so incredibly muscular) and crabwalks him down to the deck. By this time there is a gigantic traffic jam, newscopters, onlookers, etc. It's a very vivid scene, and it sets up many facets of the plot(s) in a gorgeous, writerly way. You can see why it takes him eight years or so to knock out these monsters. There is so much going on that, after a while, you need a scorecard to keep the players straight. There are Russian "oligarchs" (read: criminals who have stolen much of the riches of the former Soviet Union in order to flash around their wealth); Haitian immigrants and politicians; Cubans everywhere; occasionally a Jew, a WASP, an Italian, you name it. We are the melting pot, and Tom has thrown us all in, stirred, and concocted a heady stew of stuff (stop me before I start getting rhapsodical). Nestor's girlfriend at the beginning is Magdalena Otero, a naif who is so blazingly beautiful that she gets drawn into the upper echelons of Miami's richest. She works for a psychiatrist who specializes in "pornography addiction." Norman, the psychiatrist, is a shameless self-promoter and a disgusting individual in his own right. Ghislaine is a (of course) beautiful young woman, the daughter of a professor who is being forced to teach Creole, the language of the lowest of the immigrants. See how this is beginning to pile up all around you? I could go on, but I wish that Tom hadn't. By the third segment I really couldn't stand the book any more. Waaay too much of a sometimes good thing.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 11-03-12
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 11-03-12 Member Since 2011

    I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Classic Wolfe"

    I was so worried Tom Wolfe would not produce the same masterful social commentary that he so amazingly spins in Charlotte Simmons, Bonfire and Man in Full but he does in Back to Blood. I was a little disappointed with the ending but other than that, it's classic Tom Wolfe. Lou Diamond Phillips is phenomenal...very good casting.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toni Memphis, TN, United States 11-04-12
    Toni Memphis, TN, United States 11-04-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tom Wolfe + Lou Diamond Phillips = A GREAT LISTEN!"
    Where does Back to Blood rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I have listened to 3 Tom Wolfe Audiobooks and they ALL rank among my top favorite listens! Well worth the credits!


    What does Lou Diamond Phillips bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    LDP's narration was magnificent! I thought that maybe there was more than one narrator, but it was just him. I am definitely about to search through all the titles that he narrates and see if I can find something else great to listen to.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanna Redding, CA, United States 02-11-13
    Joanna Redding, CA, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I get it, I get it, I GET IT!!!!!"
    Would you try another book from Tom Wolfe and/or Lou Diamond Phillips?

    Yes, I'm a fan of Tom Wolfe. I keep the hope.


    Would you recommend Back to Blood to your friends? Why or why not?

    Not this one, and it pains me to say that


    What about Lou Diamond Phillips’s performance did you like?

    Lou Diamond Phillips has many convincing voices and gives a great show


    Was Back to Blood worth the listening time?

    yes, but irritating


    Any additional comments?

    Mr Wolfe's use of repeated, repeated, repeated words and phrases was probably supposed to paint a picture and impress the reader of the importance of that sentiment. It worked for the first three or four times, then it turned old, old, old. I felt nagged, nagged, NAGGED and whacked over the head --over and over and over again. Bam, bam, bam, bam...you get the picture. Was the story not long enough? Did he feel he had to quadruple the length of the content? Did he not trust his readers to GET IT? Did he think he was writing a film script? As much as I liked Mr Phillips' dramatic performance, I started to have an urge to stuff a pillow in his face. It is still a credit to Mr Wolfe's story telling genius that I stuck through the whole thing, but irritated, irritated, irritated!!!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Slatter Canouan Island 11-04-12
    Gary Slatter Canouan Island 11-04-12 Member Since 2012

    Old Pro

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Lou Diamond Phillips should get an EMMY"
    What made the experience of listening to Back to Blood the most enjoyable?

    The narration by Lou Diamond Phillips make BACK TO BLOOD superb entertainment. Tom Wolfe brought America's greatest city to life with his characters - my wife and I listened to the book for several nights, often replaying chapters as they were so interesting the second time round.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All of the characters came alive, MIAMI was the best!


    What about Lou Diamond Phillips’s performance did you like?

    All of his narration was a performance - please let me know if he's doing any more. He bumped prime time TV for the week!


    If you could take any character from Back to Blood out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Wouldn't that be fun? I feel that I have already taken them out to dinner, Hell they were bed with my wife and I all week!


    Any additional comments?

    Tom Wolfe has written the perfect pilot for a series on Miami. We were sad to come to the end, there is so much more. BRILLIANT.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregg Smyrna, GA, United States 10-28-12
    Gregg Smyrna, GA, United States 10-28-12 Member Since 2007

    Nearly 1200 titles.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Old master breathes new life"

    Fabulously accurate portrayal of Miami's underbelly. Wolfe captures all the nuances of this "welding pot" metropolis. Rich characters. Good pacing. And satisfying ending. Like fine wine, Wolfe betters with age.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ray phoenix, AZ, United States 11-05-12
    ray phoenix, AZ, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Uniquely good"
    What did you love best about Back to Blood?

    It's portrayal of the mind set of Cubans in Miami within their own peoples and towards other ethnic groups.


    Which character – as performed by Lou Diamond Phillips – was your favorite?

    Nestor Camacho


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Sparks, NY, United States 02-20-13
    John Sparks, NY, United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2008

    NV, not NY

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Tom Wolfe Classic"

    I enjoyed this story as much as A Man in Full. Part of what makes a story great is the adventure of learning things you never knew about a culture and a region, interesting things, and often fascinating things. I was completely captured over and over as this story careens from one cultural clique to another. We follow an unwilling and unlikely protagonist in Nestor Camacho a pumped up Cuban and Miami cop, almost a Keystone cop in the way he tries his best just to keep from screwing up yet winds up time and again as the center of Miami's media focus - as both a hero and a villan. Great story. Great characters. Great performance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 11-11-12
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 11-11-12 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    642
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    "Spectacular! Is That Clear Enough?"

    First off, there are no better performers in this genre than Lou Diamond Phillips. He is a genius. Okay... now for what he performed...

    Since listening to Back To Blood, I have read the reviews. Apparently the NYT, Boston Globe, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, and on and on... Seemed bent on dismissing this book. The kind of catty poseurs who Wolfe undresses in his books seemed to have struck a consensus.... "Well," they smear. "We've read this book before. Every since Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe has played the same old note revealing what he seems to think is the dysfunctional culture of the cultural elite." And of course each of these reviewers and publications represent the 'cultural elite.' Yet instead of criticizing Wolf'e arguments, they dismiss him as 'old news'. Hmmmm... I wonder if, by this reasoning any of those publications should ever run with another rape story - since after the first - all are old news. Or should they publish/broadcast/post another corruption story, or for that matter, another brittle praise for a naked new artist clothed only in the superlatives that their 'critics' layer over this month's darling?

    Yep, Wolfe goes farther and deeper in Back To Blood in his riposte and ridicule of the asininities of the cognoscenti, the PC crowd, and the literary, art, political, and publishing elite. Worse ye,t for these reviewers, Wolfe is entertaining... his work, unlike most which they endorse, has the power to communicate its message to a broad swath of the public. Wolfe' worse sin is his power to resonate.

    And Back To Blood resonates with the same sort of gong as the great social critics of the 20s, 30s, and 40s rang as the revealed the emptiness of the pretentious elites of their moment (does the name Gatsby resonate here?). This is today's great American Novel and should be read as part of an ongoing and deepening exposé along with Bonfire Of The Vanities, A Man In Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. John Updike once dismissed Wolfe as "an entertainer" and not a creator of literature. And there is a very real danger that Updike's trifling cocktail favorite but so... so... tame works will be remembered because of their cultural safety, while Wolfe will be kept off of the required reading lists with which we train and grow our literati.

    Back To Blood is a great novel. It demands a spot on the same shelf as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Upton Sinclair,Sinclair Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, John Steinbeck, and Joseph Heller, John O'Hara, and Robert Penn Warren. Actually this entire series of Wolfe's books should be thought of as one work... each deepening the reader's understanding of a time and place in America's history and stagnation.

    European elitists have often dismissed America as a place that passed from barbarism to decadence without ever experiencing civilization. To the degree that they are correct, Wolfe's revealing the pathway and the facilitators ... the enablers. What's particularly interesting though is that the ensemble of actors in Wolfe's epic, multi-novel drama. may be much too familiar to the very European cognoscenti who so easily condescend their American cousins.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 81 results PREVIOUS129NEXT
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  • Julian
    swindon, United Kingdom
    4/27/13
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    This is an excellent, cleverly written and funny book. As with all Tom Wolfe's main characters, there is a greek tragedy development of hubris, nemesis and catharsis, with many well developed minor characters playing alongside. And the reader is quite excellent, really the best I have heard, regardless of whether he is doing men or women, hispanic, black or white. The reader pushes my rating from a 4 to a 5 star. There is only one slight negative and that is that Tom Wolfe employs a peculiar narative device for emphasis and that is to repeat himself, repeat himself, repeat himself. After a while it actually gets a bit annoying, annoying, annoying. But thats really quite minor compared to the overall pleasure from listening to this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    Maidenhead, United Kingdom
    9/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great pace, fabulous insight"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Sharply written, incisive, beautifully observed. This book has pace, tension, humour and paints a revealing, disturbing and often hilarious picture of Miami life


    What other book might you compare Back to Blood to, and why?

    Bonfire of the Vanities - the only other Tom Wolfe I've read


    What does Lou Diamond Phillips bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He portrays accents well, and brings the often deliberately absurd repetitive phrases to life.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It certainly made me laugh, and kept me enthral led throughout. I was sad when the 20 hours was over


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • matt
    london, United Kingdom
    8/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Moments of excellence - ultimately disapointing"
    What would have made Back to Blood better?

    He uses a very similar formula to bonfire of the Vanities and Man in Fall to much greater effect. The characters here seemed shallower and less thought through, the comedy didnt always work and the pacing felt off.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Tom Wolfe again?

    Definately


    Have you listened to any of Lou Diamond Phillips’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I've not heard LDP before but thought he was very good


    What character would you cut from Back to Blood?

    The Editor


    Any additional comments?

    I think an amount of hype is always likely to anything by Tom Wolfe and will be compared to his earlier work. I think BTB suffers as a result of this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Antonio Villar
    Seville
    6/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent story and performance"

    Tom Wolfe strikes again with an incredibly good narration. I really enjoyed. Waiting to listening to The Bonfire of Vanities by L. D. Phillips!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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