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
The title of this review expresses my ambivalence between the quality of the writing and story telling, and my intense dislike of the main character. The four star rating is largely homage to Burke's writing, and his bringing to life the farm worker's struggle for fair treatment. It's also in appreciation of the light he casts on the type of people who succeed in politics, and why.
There are scenes between Hack and Veresa that are drawn with a surgeon's scalpel, and you can almost feel the blood oozing out of your own pores. Similarly, Hack's brother's complaints have the ring of truth and I longed for him to throw Hack out on his drunk butt.
Hack's political career is drawn from the headlines. The lurid details of his drunken escapades can be found in the real reports of politicians' misdeeds, sorry to say.
Hackberry Holland is an abhorrent character. He's a selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical, alcoholic who blames all of his problems on other people. In many ways, he's stereotyped, as are the women with whom he interacts.
He falls into the farm workers struggle not out of principle, but in an alcoholic binge. I would have had more respect for him had he had some principle about it.
Yes, he was a POW in a Chinese camp and his treatment there defies comprehension. Burke describes it extensively, and in great detail. Too much is given over to this, so much so that it felt like mere sensationalism, a disappointment from a writer of Burke's ability.
Will Patton does his usual excellent job narrating the book.
Although overall I enjoyed the book, I'm not sure I'll read any more books featuring Hackberry Holland.
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.
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.
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 -
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
No. Not when you have read as many of his books as I have. His gifts are so outsized that I have come to expect truly marvelous entertainment from him, particularly when he is paired with the remarkable Will Patton. However, the well just has to run dry sooner or later, and I am afraid that in Hack Holland we are seeing the grisly death of Mr. Burke's outlandish writerly talents. When he sinks this low, he becomes compulsively violent. Other readers have commented on this, and it is most certainly true. The violence is relentless and by now pointless. We know that Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell and now Hack Holland have all brought back the horrible nightmares of Korea and Viet Nam, as have minor characters galore, but the piling on is serving to diminish the point here, not to heighten its emphasis. The reader can only listen to so many nightmares about grisly murders, decapitations, etc. etc. etc. before the shock value of these wears off completely. By this time I have lost the point. At first I understood the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that these men bring home and try to cope with in their lives after war, but these thousands of pages cannot serve simply to make those points over and over again. The books, and this one in particular, are so much about conflict in so many relationships across such a broad spectrum of people in Texas that you wonder how it is that they don't just kill each other off and be done with it. There'd be no one left to write about, I spose.
As above, the emphasis on conflict in its multifarious manifestations (sorry; I won't do that again) just begin to make the mind roll over and lose the point completely. Let's see: Texas law enforcement is a rotten, corrupt-to-the-core pigsty; politicians are lying whores who will say and do anything for money and their own despicable personal gain and ambition (gee whiz!), the women are just as nasty as the men, etc. Are we taking notes here?
I do love Will Patton. His voice is delightful, with that gravelly texture that is easy to snuggle up to at night. He is a great selling point for any audiobook.
Like, move to Texas, become oil-rich and run for political office? Uh, no.
No. Time to either retire, or to change the focus, and as the boys at Monte Python would have it, do something completely different. How about exploring some uplifting aspect of human nature? I hear uproarious laughter. Just a thought. Doesn't sell many books.
I drive an hour to my office as an attorney. I have done this for 14 years. I would not be able to do this without my books on tape.
This is all about the life story of the Hackberry Holland, the new series. There is very little plot or story otherwise. I fast forwarded through much, especially the Korean War POW part which is a major portion of the book.
Not at all. I will probably listen to the next story but after a long break with other books. I love the genre. James Lee Burke's preaching can be tiresome.
His narrative is always excellent. I don't like when the narrator tries to do a different voice or accent for each character. Paxton read with an accent and emotion appropriate for the story. He is perfect for the Burke stories.
Only if you plan on reading the series, so you have the background. I am really not sure. if you care why Holland was a drunk and philanderer and left her former life to become a sheriff?
Disappointing based on reviews I read.
Say something about yourself!
This is an excellent book on life in the south during a tumultuous time period. Great characters. Can't think of a better narrator for this than Will Patton. Read one other, 1st book in the Robicheaux series. This one is a stand alone. Will read many more. Quality writer. Listen too it. You can't lose.
Entirely spoiled by the cowboy reading by Will Patton. Might have been a good book otherwise, but I'll never know.
Not bad story - Will Patton was great, as usual. just too much booze, whoring and depressing material to me really enjoy it.
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