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The Son | [Philipp Meyer]

The Son

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim. Spring, 1849: Eli McCullough is 13 years old when a marauding band of Comanches takes him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and waging war against their enemies, including white men - which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2014

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim.

Spring, 1849: Eli McCullough is 13 years old when a marauding band of Comanches takes him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and waging war against their enemies, including white men - which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized nor fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong - a journey of adventure, tragedy, hardship, grit, and luck that reverberates in the lives of his progeny.

©2013 Philipp Meyer (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Shauna Pasadena, CA, United States 06-30-13
    Shauna Pasadena, CA, United States 06-30-13 Member Since 2014
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    "The Son: McCulloughs, Cattle and Comanches"

    This is an epic story of Eli McCullough who is captured and lives three years with Comanches. It explores five generations of the McCullough family as well as several layers Texas culture from the Apaches and Comanches, to the Mexicans (aka Tejanos), to the White men and Vaqueros and back to the Apaches. Any romantic views you have about the men of these tribes will disappear quickly. I liked the characters as individuals but hated what they did to each other. The book is bloody and brutal but you wont be able to stop listening.

    The alliances among these groups and McCullough family members shift with the winds. . Because of those changes, as well as the way the story unfolds, it was difficult to keep track of each character's place on the family tree. Play close attention to the opening of each chapter which tells you who is speaking and what the year is or you too will be lost,

    Will Patton voices Eli to perfection. He draws you in from the opening scene. The other narrators are equally effective,

    I give this book five stars for just about every aspect of writing and storytelling. Phillip Meyer is a fabulous writer and I look forward to reading other books by him.



    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 09-23-13
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 09-23-13

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "Excellent Audiobook-Highly Recommended (spoiler)"

    A true saga of a Texas family from early frontier days to the 1990s portrayed by 3 excellent actors who really were their parts-this was a 'listen all day' kinda book. I'm glad I had a rainy sunday to spend lazing on the couch and totally getting into the stories that were related of 3 generations of the McCullough family...

    Kudos especially to Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Shepherd for their interpretations of Eli, Jennie and Peter-I was really *there* listening to them...at Cherokee campsites, at the frustrations of a feminist who didn't know she was a feminist dealing with men who didn't take her seriously and at frustrated Peter who loved a woman forbidden by racial restrictions to him.

    These narrators/actors wouldn't have been nearly as successful without the wonderful novel..one of those books MADE for audiobook...by Phillip Meyer. A true saga of a book that puts Edna Ferber's "Giant" to shame..made me see how 'Hollywood"Giant was.

    ***spoiler here***** My only disappointment - and it was truly because I wanted a 'happy-there-gotcha ending' was having the last Garcia child ride hell bent for leather back over the Rio Grande when I so wanted Jennie to accept him as a true son of the family. Well..guess I wanted a 'Hollwyood ' ending there and it didn't happen.****end spoiler***

    Congratulations to all involver for a fantastic novel that kept this listener glued to the iPad.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Phelps Greater Boston Area 11-17-13
    J. Phelps Greater Boston Area 11-17-13 Member Since 2009

    A painter, a blogger and one who escapes or relaxes with audio books of all variety.

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    "Difficult"
    What made the experience of listening to The Son the most enjoyable?

    The parts I enjoyed concerned the details of life with the Comanche.


    Would you recommend The Son to your friends? Why or why not?

    I don't think I would give this a strong recommendation because the entire book was difficult for me to follow - the story line jumps back and forth. I found the lack of continuity confusing, often wondering if I'd accidentally skipped some essential part of the story. The ending may have been true to life but was not satisfying.


    Any additional comments?

    I believe the story overall was interesting due to the history and details covered. I really did not care for the fragmented manner in which it was told, however. I wanted to quit several times out of frustration.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 08-15-13
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 08-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Lived up to the hype"

    I read "American Rust", so I already knew that Mr Meyer was a talented author, and this book reinforces my belief. Great sweeping novel, a bit like a Lonesome Dove, and well worth a listen. My only complaint is that Scott Shepherd can sound really whiney after a while!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison GRANADA HILLS, CA, United States 02-06-14
    Alison GRANADA HILLS, CA, United States 02-06-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Rich and Satisfying!"
    If you could sum up The Son in three words, what would they be?

    Complex. Nostalgic. Brutal.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Peter McCullough, because he agonized over his good fortune, verses the right way to live life on earth.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Maria Garcia returned to the Ranch, and Peter fell in love with her. His journals were filled with sharp longing; their situation, emotions were raw and haunting.


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

    Were it possible, yes.. but I enjoyed each different chapter, a different character and time frame, converging into the big picture.


    Any additional comments?

    It. Was. Amazing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Perry Hall 02-01-14 Member Since 2014

    S. Quire

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    "My Best Audible; Greek epic of cowboys and Indians"

    I cannot add much more to the great reviews of this novel by listeners, readers and critics. I loved the literary devices used to tell this spectacular story of a Texas family, which is, in many ways, reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

    This is, by a long shot, the best book I've listened to. The best material by the best narrators. I also read it, but I can't be as bold in my assessment of the book in print.

    I finished this in July and am just now sitting down to write a review. The novel sticks with you like any great piece of art, be it a novel, movie, painting or song.

    I cannot recommend this enough.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte 11-21-13
    Charlotte 11-21-13
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    "A let down"
    What disappointed you about The Son?

    The story felt disjointed. The geography seemed off ( native Texan here) There were long drawn out sections of minimal interest and parts that felt rushed that could have been fleshed out for a more interesting read. Overall it left me feeling bummed and not really caring about the characters.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 10-29-13
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "Wonderful epic on the Texas experience."
    If you could sum up The Son in three words, what would they be?

    Cowboys, Indians, Oil.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eli McCollough because he had the most interesting experiences. He went from being captured by Indians to becoming an Indian than a Ranger and wealthy Oil man. Quite a range of life altering stories that come down to what kind of man he became.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    We had 4 narrators. Will Patton was the best, and even though I love Kate Mulgrew I think she was miscast in this. I would have liked to see Cybil Shephard or some other Texas woman do this part. Kate is too East Coast patrician for it. The other narrators were so so. The Peter McCollough narrator was pretty wimpy and whiny, but I guess that fit his character. The Garcia-McCollough character was fine but not in much of the book.


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

    The wild west, uncensored.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-25-13
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-25-13 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "The violence of history"

    “I could not shake the feeling I’d stepped over some line,” says a protagonist of The Son, “over which I would never return. But maybe I’d crossed it years earlier, or maybe it had never existed. There was nothing you could take that did not belong to some other person.”

    To Philipp Meyer, the story of Texas is a story written in blood and conquest. Spanning a century and a half, the novel follows the lives of three central characters, each from a different generation of a family named McCullough. At the beginning is the dynasty's founder, Eli McCullough, who is kidnapped and brought into manhood by the Comanche Indians, then returns to a civilization he finds too stifling, where he joins the hardbitten Texas Rangers, then, finally, becomes a settled landowner. At our own end of history is his great-granddaughter, Jeanne Ann McCullough, a wealthy and proud oilwoman who, at the end of her life, contemplates all she stood for and the loss of her empire to descendents who will never fill her boots. In between them is Peter McCullough, a cattle baron tormented over his role in the slaughter of a landowning Mexican neighbor and his family by a vigilante mob during the troubles of the early 1900s, an act that nonetheless sows the seeds for his family's greater prominence.

    For anyone who appreciates literary American West sagas, this one's a winner, combining the unsentimentality of Cormac McCarthy with the character-driven storytelling of Larry McMurty. We see a world where the old frontier myths, the ones about self-reliance, taming the land, establishing law and order, and so forth are true enough on the surface, but hide deeper, darker stories. The Comanches here are “godlike” in their mastery of the elements, and casual in their cruelty. From them, the new waves of conquerors of the land (the Spaniards, the Mexicans, the Anglos) take the lesson of force, finding increasingly civilized rationales for it, the scheming lawyers pushing the real frontiersmen further out. For Eli, the rawest character, violence is simply a fact of life. For Peter, more psychologically complex, it’s a source of inner torment, the knowledge that decency brings him little respect from those beneath him in the power structure of a growing empire. Men, he observes, *want* to be ruled. For Jeanne, her now-mythologized family and the prospect of its financial decline become a personal challenge to carve her way into new frontiers -- oil, politics, the media, the world of men -- while trying to evade the aloneness that seems to define the world she has chosen.

    Meyer intersperses his three storylines, revealing both the way the choices of one generation shape the lives of the next, the same themes recurring in different forms in each. Sometimes, these recurrences are an obvious consequence of history, sometimes they’re a product of literary license, but both blur together into a resonant whole. Meyer’s choice of language can sometimes strain credulity, as when Eli describes conversations among Indians or frontiersmen in a way that seems packaged for modern ears, but the prose expertly blends the immediacy of the moment with the insights and oversights of future recollection. We see the subtle shiftings and sortings of truth into different histories, none of them entirely true.

    It’s a bleak but enthralling novel, symbolic of the United States and its ascendency, with a hint in the last chapters of what may come next. Meyers captures the moral ambiguities of a country founded on theories of liberty and pursuit of happiness, but whose true celebration is of power and material success. I also came away feeling like I understood the mentality of Texans better. Eli’s strange story may be the most captivating, especially with Will Patton’s audiobook narration, but all flow together. 4.5 stars.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 08-20-13
    Richard 08-20-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Petered out toward the end"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It was three (really four) stories and narrators, not always well woven together. I thought that scheme was somewhat awkward. Also, I found the ending unsatisfying.


    Would you recommend The Son to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes. In spite of my criticisms, I did enjoy the book.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I could listen to Will Patton read the phone book. He is among my favorites. In this case he was perfect as Eli.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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