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Lay Down My Sword and Shield | [James Lee Burke]

Lay Down My Sword and Shield

Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney Hackberry Holland yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers.
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Publisher's Summary

The hero of James Lee Burke's recent best-seller Rain Gods, cousin to lawman Billy Bob Holland and a genuine product of the South, both old and new, Hackberry Holland makes his first appearance in this early gem from "America's best novelist" (The Denver Post).

Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers. And when Hack attempts to overturn an old army buddy's conviction, and crosses paths with a beautiful union organizer who speaks to his heart in a way no one else has, he finds both a new love and a new purpose as he breaks free from the shackles of wealth and expectation to bring justice to the underserved.

©2010 James Lee Burke (P)2010 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (579 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Walter Loewenstern 03-02-10 Member Since 2014

    Walter L.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good book, not his best"

    I love Burke, but I don't think this is quite a good as the others I have listened to. It starts out a little slowly, but then speeds up and has a great ending. Will Patton is terrific as always.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 04-13-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 04-13-14 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
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    "Sadly Mr. Burke, It Shows."

    I have been a James Lee Burke fanboy… just look at my other reviews. I've called him a poet and looked forward to each new Dave Robicheaux chapter at an epic American cultural turning point. Mark Hammer is one of the greatest Audible voices of all time. So I am overwhelmed with disappointment in Hackberry Holland asa stereotypical ideologue's over-written lead character.

    When writers present ideas, they can become great, when they represent ideas, they are propagandists. Maybe I should have listened to all of this polemic filled with hateful white south westerners and saintly people of color.I couldn't since quickly it seemed as if he was again visiting a stereotypical place where there was no grey, no nuance, no other side but the whiny argument that Burke presents. As the son of a union leader, I understand the struggle and its virtues. I also understand its excesses, contradictions, and frustrations.

    An artist asks questions, a partisan answers them. The world of Robicheaux is riddled with questions… Hackenberry is about unambiguous answers. Robichieux's a question mark, Hackenberry an exclamation point.

    Burke is singing to the choir. How disappointing. Once upon a time a young writer turned in an assignment to his editor. She read it, looked up and said, 'Ted, you're really enraged by this issue aren't you?" "YES!" he retorted.

    She slid the article back across her desk, "It shows. Rewrite it."

    Mr. Burke, it shows.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. 03-14-10
    S. 03-14-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Not his best -"

    I love James Lee Burke - but I must say this was probably my least favorite book. His second book with this charater is better, and you don't need to read this one to enjoy the next. Skip it -

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Douglasville, GA, United States 01-29-15
    Cheryl Douglasville, GA, United States 01-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A strong message about the human condition."

    This story was very good, but very dark. The main character, Hackberry Holland, is an alcoholic rich lawyer with a lot of issues, especially his past as a prisoner of war in Korea.

    James Lee Burke is an excellent writer and I like how he expressed the good and the bad sides of Hackberry. I definitely plan on reading the next book in the series.

    One of my favorite narrators, Will Patton, was awesome in his narration of this novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted K 10-06-14
    Ted K 10-06-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Worst Burke novel ever"
    What would have made Lay Down My Sword and Shield better?

    A believable character and a plot.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger at the fraudulent title, which was misleading as to content.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the worst books I ever read. A character who is an alcoholic, who cheats on his elegant wife, and who is unreliable when it comes to working his law practice with his brother, and yet he is a knight in shining armor when it comes to social injustice. Get real. I will never purchase another one of this author's books again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Kingston, PA, United States 04-09-14
    Joseph Kingston, PA, United States 04-09-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Burke...but not at his best"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Burke is a well above average talented writer, and this is interesting for its glimpse at the young novelist figuring it out. There are some nice passages, and you get that there's really something at stake: the tough-guy protagonist has some real decisions to make about where his allegiance lies and how much he can tolerate in the face of deep corruption. I can't help reading it as Burke himself trying out different aesthetics for his own work.

    That said, this doesn't age all that well. The protagonist's narcissism gets old. The reconciliation of an early 1970s counter-culture sensibility with 1950s noir shows its seams (and feels forced). The maybe-interesting-for-her-day love interest gets reduced too quickly to arm candy after a promising beginning. And the climax resolves less than I'd like.

    I enjoyed parts of it a good bit as a flashback to an earlier time, but it didn't hold up for me through the end, and I found myself dragging for the last quarter.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynda Rands Belleville, IL 03-08-14
    Lynda Rands Belleville, IL 03-08-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Thoroughly unappealing protagonist"

    Watching a bad drunk be a bad drunk is no fun in life or literature.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reuel South Bend, IN, United States 02-22-14
    Reuel South Bend, IN, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2010

    drj

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    "Great reading, good story: sensitive lawyer"

    A Korean war vet, lawyer, and new Democratic candidate for Congress from Austin TX in the '70s, the protagonist "Hack" is bitter, estranged from his wife, brother, others, self. Though he holds himself to a high standard, he also questions his own worth just a little less than he discounts the motives of those around him. He has the attractive sensibilities of a hippie (open-minded and anti-bigotry) together with the appetites of a good ol' boy (drinking, driving fast, and whoring). His deep secret - which forms the spine of the narrative - is sufficiently important and well presented. The reading by Will Patton is outstanding, a great pleasure with perfectly fitting voices. The story is just a little less than compelling, too much of a great guy with a deep soul...who is righteous and drinks way too much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    adrienne EAGLE RIVER, AK, United States 07-30-13
    adrienne EAGLE RIVER, AK, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2009

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Not what I expected..."

    I have listened to some books in each of James Lee Burke's story lines. His wonderful descriptions and Will Patton's narration are music to my ears.

    However, in spite of the writing talent, I found this book depressing. If you have lived with the return of a haunted, wounded veteran that finds himself not wanting to be what everyone else expects, turns to alcohol, and becomes contrary on all fronts, you will recognize the descent of Holland. Fortunately Burke wraps this up with some optimism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Payne Prince William, VA United States 06-22-13
    George Payne Prince William, VA United States 06-22-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fans of Dave Robicheaux . . . dont overlook this!"
    Would you listen to Lay Down My Sword and Shield again? Why?

    I don't typically listen to a book twice, but I would consider it with this one because the story is rich and the characters are deep.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I appreciate Burke's old school ethic exhibited through the conviction of his protagonists.


    Which character – as performed by Will Patton – was your favorite?

    Will Patton is Hack Holland. His interpretation of the character is spot on perfect.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "Coming to a theater near you . . . a Lone Star political masterpiece for the ages!"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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