Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters more richly drawn than any Lehane has ever created, The Given Day tells the story of two families: one black, one white, swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power.
Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife.
Here, too, are some of the most influential figures of the era: Babe Ruth; Eugene O'Neill; leftist activist Jack Reed; NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois; Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson's ruthless Red-chasing attorney general; cunning Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge; and an ambitious young Department of Justice lawyer named John Hoover.
Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time, including the Spanish Influenza pandemic and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence and irrepressible exuberance of a country at war with, and in the thrall of, itself. As Danny, Luther, and those around them struggle to define themselves in increasingly turbulent times, they gradually find family in one another and, together, ride a rising storm of hardship, deprivation, and hope that will change all their lives.
©2008 Dennis Lehane; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
"[An] engrossing epic....A vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit." (Publishers Weekly)
With a truly hideous daily LA commute, I get to listen to a lot of audiobooks, from a lot of genres. I've come to realize that a good audiobook is hard to find -- it requires both great writing and strong, diverse interpretive reading from a voice that can mimic (not mock) different voices. I've heard some otherwise well-written books devolve into hackneyed hideousness with bad readings (Peter Weller doing William Gibson comes to mind), and, of course, not even a good reader can save a bad book (ie, stay away from "Errors and Omissions"). That said, this version of Dennis Lehane's new novel is, quite simply, the best I've heard. I've liked Lehane's books in the past, but hadn't been blown away, and I've enjoyed the two movies I've seen from his work (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), but I was not at all prepared for the powerhouse punch this audiobook delivers. The writing is taught, sweet, seemingly true to the historical period and emotionally honest. The plot development is riveting without being ludicrous. The interweaving of fictional characters with historical figures, though hardly new (reminded me somewhat of Doctorow's "Ragtime"), is deftly handled. Add to that the narrator's phenomenal ability to vest the different characters with consistent and believable voices, as he easily and smoothly jumps from Southie Bostonian to Southern African-American to immigrant Italian(a testament to this truly gifted reader is the listener's inability to discern the reader's own ethnicity), and no accent he does seems forced or mocked. The combination of great writing and reading makes this audiobook my unqualified favorite of my listening career. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is as good as it gets.
Of the 70+ audiobooks that I have listened to, this is certainly one of the best. The writing is sharp, compelling and beautiful. Michael Boatman as narrator is superb. He "performs" the book, has a magnificent deep voice and can deliver any accent with perfection. The story, based in part on the 1919 Boston police strike, provides insights into the rise of the labour movement in the US as well as the challenges of life for workers, immigrants and African Americans during the post WW I period. How wonderful to learn while also enjoying a novel! Dennis Lehane has reached new heights in his writing...this is literature at its best.
I look for books that can sustain me while on long runs. This one does. It tells an important part of Boston history - often really gruesome detailing the clash of Irish police and blacks and strikers and factories in gritty Boston. The narration is excellent. The Glass Castle was the only other book that held my interest so much.
I started out reading this book for our book club at work, and realized I wouldn't get it finished in time for our meeting, so I downloaded the audio to speed the process. I read the book in bed at night and then found my place on the audio each morning in order to listen on the way to and from work and during lunch. The narrator nails the characters' accents perfectly, from Irish to southern African American to Russian to Bostonian. Dennis Lehane presents an intimate, emotional view of a most fascinating era of American history; a view that I certainly never saw in any history class - with details from every side of the story. This one should be required reading for high school English, social studies and American history alike. Chock full of interesting details that will lead you to desire more information about history, politics, business, religion, human rights, human nature,the formation of unions, and about your own beliefs.
Addicted to Audible!
This is a book I can share with my husband and son as well as my ladies book club. It was a great story that taught me a history lesson as well. It is worth the time it takes to listen and I was dissapointed when it ended. For any Dennis Lehane Fan this is a must have!
Whether you are a baseball fan, union member, or just enjoy a good story, this book will appeal to you. You will like - and dislike! - the characters, become enraged at the unfairness of it all, and go 'hmmm...' as you learn of the molasses disaster.
As with other works, Lehane does his homework. You may think the cops were out of line to strike, and maybe they were. But that is only half the story. How it came to happen, and the treatment of the cops by the politicians, is the other half. Meantime, what would drive The Babe into the outfield from the picher's mound, and then into the arms of The Hated Yankees is another story, to give it historical context.
As with his other works, I enjoyed the sense of history and of being there at the time. I felt like I knew the characters as if they lived next door. And I was glad I wasn't actually there for the molasses disaster.
Is isn't very often that I listen to a very lengthy book and it holds up without bogging down. This story has broad appeal, bridging the masculine/feminine divide adeptly. My husband and I listened to it together and were both duly entertained! THE GIVEN DAY takes place at the end of WWI when the country is undergoing a transformation, for better and worse. Several stories are at work here. Dennis Lehane is a master of the material, telling of an Irish legacy, Boston and it's finest Blue. The story of the Irish immigrant is great because it differs so little from that of the Italian, or the Jewish, and so on. Impossible to tell of this time and place without revealing the issues of utter racism. Unimaginably recent, slavery was abolished but the black people of the age are treated as second class citizens. A fierce tete-a-tete ensues between a crooked, evil cop and a young black man trying to follow the right path, often a nebulas one. A feminine perspective is provided through a feisty woman who is accused of lying about her past, although admission of such would have resulted in no chance at life beyond poverty, life in the slums. The overall message in the book is especially poignant, a parallel established between the early 20th century and current America.
This was one of my favorite Audible purchases. It was compelling from the very start, introducing the world of major league baseball back in 1918 and then weaving in the two main characters. It was fascinating to watch all the stories intersect. It is a long 'listen' but never ever felt like it. I had my iPod in as often as I could, wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I learned a ton about history as well, so it wasn't just 'brain candy.' I'm glad I saved up the two credits to purchase this book - it was soooo worth it! Highly highly recommend - you won't regret it.
This book reminds me of Ragtime, Glory and the Dream, the Jungle and maybe some of Studs Terkel's stuff. Dehane adroitly captures what it must have been like to live in 1919 - the end of WW I, the Great Flu, the beginnings of Unions, immigration, racism, generalized corruption, floods, fires AND molasses!
He captures all that, straightens it out and weaves it back into an unforgettable story.
On top of that, Michael Boatman gives a first rate performance as narrator.
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