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Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend | [Peter Matthiessen]

Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

Inspired by a near-mythic event on the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the 20th century, Shadow Country re-imagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Fiction, 2008

Inspired by a near-mythic event on the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the 20th century, Shadow Country re-imagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.

Shadow Country transverses strange landscapes inhabited by Americans of every provenance and color, including the black and Indian inheritors of archaic racism that "still casts its shadow over the nation."

©2008 Peter Matthiessen; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[G]ripping, shocking, and brilliantly told....as powerful a reading experience as nearly any in our literature." (New York Review of Books)
"Magnificent and capacious....the book took my sleeve and like the ancient mariner would not let go....a breathtaking saga." (Los Angeles Times)
"[Watson] comes across as nothing short of iconic....it's difficult to find another figure in American literature so thoroughly and convincingly portrayed." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (383 )
5 star
 (115)
4 star
 (85)
3 star
 (71)
2 star
 (55)
1 star
 (57)
Overall
3.6 (153 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (15)
1 star
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Story
3.8 (152 )
5 star
 (64)
4 star
 (41)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (17)
Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen Walnut Creek, CA, United States 03-20-10
    Kathleen Walnut Creek, CA, United States 03-20-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    47
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    "Story of an evil man"

    I've listened to 4 of 5 sections of this audio book. Peter Matthisen is a gifted writer and the narrator does an excellent job. The thing is, the main character is such an evil, despicable character that I can't find the energy to care enough to finish the book. What I will do is go listen to the last chapter and not put myself through the rest.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Beverly Hills, MI, USA 11-05-09
    Karen Beverly Hills, MI, USA 11-05-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Confusing"

    I had a hard time with this story. At one point, I had several pages of notes trying to keep all the characters and their relationships to each other straight. I finally gave up. Then I thought I must have listened to it out of order, since it skips around. I wanted to get the story, but this would be better if you also had the hard copy to refer back to.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin EARLVILLE, NY, United States 06-25-14
    Kevin EARLVILLE, NY, United States 06-25-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Masterpiece with flaws"
    Any additional comments?

    A long audiobook but I was pretty engaged throughout. I did miss some parts of the first book but by the time I finished all three I started right over and listened to the first book again, comparing the different accounts. Ultimately, a Great American Novel (yes, I know) in that it captures the complexity and contradictions of our history, the violence, the ambition, the fortitude, the failings. Also a challenging meditation on the nature of experience, and how we perceive one another.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Bethel Park, PA, United States 05-30-14
    Bruce Bethel Park, PA, United States 05-30-14 Member Since 2003

    Retired Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    84
    10
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    "Better Than Expected - Learned a Lot"
    Would you listen to Shadow Country again? Why?

    Probably - but not for a while. I actually went back a number of times to "re-listen" to stretches - got lost on names and events and such


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Shadow Country?

    The death scene - that happens more than once is obviously the key to the whole thing


    Which scene was your favorite?

    As the book draws to a close - the end of the third part - Watson reveals both his strong will and sense of humanity - the desire to be someone - to make a mark - to be more than just a human - but the realization that in the end being human is the best we can aspire to.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No - too complex - I needed to ration this out - 2-3 hour chunks. It all ties together and works very well - but I needed to time to reflect and sort out things.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 04-22-14
    Ellen LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 04-22-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    8
    7
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    0
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Truly Outstanding Story and Narration"

    This is an epic achievement done complete justice by the superb narration by Anthony Heald. Frankly, he is the best narrator I have ever heard and will purchase more of his titles. The story itself is transcendent: so heartbreakingly sad yet such a complete picture of a man, a time and the devastating effect one man can have on so many others, including himself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. covely Durham, NC USA 06-28-13
    S. covely Durham, NC USA 06-28-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    29
    14
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    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Meh"

    After all the rave reviews I read, I found the audiobook to meandering, slow and dull. I did not connect with any of the characters and found the jumping around between accounts to be jarring and made it tough to follow.

    Don't waste your credits, unless you have some real investment in this story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna O'Connell, Australia 03-18-13
    Anna O'Connell, Australia 03-18-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    84
    12
    FOLLOWERS
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    1
    2
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    Story
    "BORING IN EXTREME"

    I optimistically used a large slab of my downloading capacity to hear this lengthy book (I usually love lengthy books). A complete waste of computer space and my time. My worst ever purchase on audible. Needless to say I only listened to the first section till I could stand no more. A long, drawn out period of nothingness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave United States 02-02-13
    Dave United States 02-02-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story, incredible reader"
    If you could sum up Shadow Country in three words, what would they be?

    long historic compelling


    What other book might you compare Shadow Country to and why?

    Maybe something by Pete Decker. This is a historic novel, following generations of a gritty family. Realistic, rough-edged, compelling characters.


    Have you listened to any of Anthony Heald’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't, and this is the best reading/performance I've ever heard. His ability to develop a different voice for each character -- the story is told from several points of view -- is uncanny.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, and I don't want to give it away.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the longest audio book I've ever listened to -- a bit over 40 hours. I have to confess that it's hard (for me anyway) to maintain attention for that long, but it is such a great book that I find myself getting right back into the story each time I get a chance to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Lane Oak View, CA, United States 09-24-12
    Thomas Lane Oak View, CA, United States 09-24-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "one for the ages"
    If you could sum up Shadow Country in three words, what would they be?

    Moby Dick calibre


    What did you like best about this story?

    everything


    Have you listened to any of Anthony Heald’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but this is so great I'd love to get other audio books that he has done.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Too numerous to mention. I've been a fan of Peter Matthiessen's for a long time, but didn't quite expect this.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have any interest in this book, please get it. The performance equals the quality of the text, and that's saying a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Reston, VA, United States 08-09-12
    Amazon Customer Reston, VA, United States 08-09-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Novel Meant to Be Listened To"
    If you could sum up Shadow Country in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling country storytelling.


    What other book might you compare Shadow Country to and why?

    Absolam, Absolam, by William Faulkner, as a tale of the deep south after the civil war.


    Have you listened to any of Anthony Heald’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I think I should.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    In three volumes, read in five parts, there are too many.


    Any additional comments?

    This if the first audio book I believe I would NOT prefer reading over listening. Heald is extraordinary in his ability to bring to life deep southern speech patterns, male and female, and the author's amazing choices of words and story-telling ability. Every bit makes me feel as though I'm sitting on a rural home's porch, listening to a colorful story teller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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