Lay Down My Sword and Shield Audiobook | James Lee Burke | Audible.com
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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

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3.9 (486 )
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  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 04-13-14
    David Houston, TX, United States 04-13-14 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A character study--not a polemic or crime fiction"

    It is pretty difficult to forgive the self-destructive, often self-righteous subject of this powerful character study, at least until you have reached the promising denouement. Burke never soft pedals the negative aspects of Hackberry's alcoholism and self-hatred. What he does do is expose its roots in the Korean War back story, making us relive with Holland a soul destroying history in a visceral and horrifying series of memories. He does, nonetheless, have redeeming qualities even at his lowest points--a love for horses and a compassion for the helpless which he finds inescapable even while he is single-mindedly gunning the engine in his flight to his own annihilation. And a burning hatred for hypocrisy. In fact, it is this last which fuels his descent as his lingering sense of guilt concerning his final "failure" under North Korean torturers makes it impossible for him to wear a mask of respectability in the here and now.

    This is not an easy book to read, and different auditors have obviously come away with widely divergent reactions. As for me, while I don't think this is Burke's finest work (that is a very high bar), I was able to engage deeply with Hack even while desperately wanting to slap him up side the head and lock him in his room. Even at his most repugnant, there was something there worth loving, and most of us have experienced that enough times in our lives to be able to relate. In addition, Burke's brilliantly poetic use of landscape and atmosphere is already in evidence in this early work. He also does a nice job of playing powerfully on the themes of hypocrisy and real cowardice which run throughout his later novels. By the last page, I was very satisfied and even moved.

    I would not, however, recommend this as a first read in the Burke oeuvre. I would suggest you get to know the later Hackberry and come back to this as very interesting back story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Clearwater, FL, United States 03-14-10
    S. Clearwater, FL, United States 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
  •  
    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.

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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.

    1 of 2 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
  •  
    David South Bend, IN, United States 02-22-14
    David 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
  •  
    Patrice Bader Towson, MD 02-27-13
    Patrice Bader Towson, MD 02-27-13 Member Since 2010

    RedNightBird

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Crisp, Southern Drama"
    Would you listen to Lay Down My Sword and Shield again? Why?

    Will Patton's delivery caresses the words.


    What did you like best about this story?

    James Lee Burke always delivers - consistent pain and suffering with a solid final delivery.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    First chapter always sinks the hook.


    Who was the most memorable character of Lay Down My Sword and Shield and why?

    his characters play the team ideal, everyone contributes.


    Any additional comments?

    You have to read every one of his books....you really do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Cincinnati, OH, United States 11-20-12
    Sandra Cincinnati, OH, United States 11-20-12
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    "This is a very difficult book to listen to"
    What did you like best about Lay Down My Sword and Shield? What did you like least?

    I love James Lee Burke and I love Will Patton, but the alcoholism and the brutality in the book is hard for me. the part about the POW camp gave me nightmares and I had to stop listening.


    What was most disappointing about James Lee Burke’s story?

    I realize now, that this book was written a long time ago and I could really see how aged the book was.


    What about Will Patton’s performance did you like?

    Will Patton's performance was the best.


    Do you think Lay Down My Sword and Shield needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Yes.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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