North and South is the first novel in John Jakes' trilogy of the American Civil War. This first book tells the story of the close friendship the deve..Show More »lops between George Hazard Of Pennsylvania and Orry Main of South Carolina. Hazard belongs to the industrial class of the mighty North, while Main is a member of the Southern caste of slave holding plantation owners. The backgrounds of these two men are fraught with seemingly insurmountable differences. Despite this, Main and Hazard become close friends during their time at West Point, as well during their service in the Mexican American war. After that conflict the two friends are followed throughout the tumultuous 1850's, right up to the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War. The tragedy of the Civil War is magnified as these two intimate companions choose sides, wish each other luck, and go to war.
Over the last 25 years I have read this trilogy three times and I have been waiting very impatiently for an audio version. And it has arrived in all it's glory. Having the superb Grover Gardner narrate is simply icing on a three layer cake.
Others have criticized book 2 in this series as not as good as the first. I disagree, and found the story a natural extension of the first. It is, how..Show More »ever a fairly dark story, but entertaining and captivating nonetheless.
The story was very well done. Well researched, it is what I would consider as accurate as far as can be in a work of fiction. Be forewarned, however, that this also means that terminology and attitudes of that era are also presented the same way. For those with a thin skin, this could be somewhat shocking.
Although my favourite narrators tend to be Brits, Mr. Gardner is well matched to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed his pace, inflections, and interpretations of characters.
So, keeping things short, if you have any interest in the Civil War era, and perhaps a glimpse into how the US has evolved into what it is today with regards to politics, this series may be of interest to you while simultaneously providing a darned good story.
I'm assuming that if you're thinking of reading book three, it means you've made it through the epic journey's that are books 1 and 2. If so, how you ..Show More »will find this third book depends on why you were reading the first two. If, like some, you are interested in the stories from the civil war aspect, then the third will disappoint. Ditto if you are looking for a lot more insight into the main characters of the first books. This 3rd book is essentially the story of Charles Main and his life "out west".
If, like me, you love well developed charters in a historical setting, then you will still find this book very enjoyable. Mr. Jakes continues to be unsparing in his portraits of human nature as he tells the story of "how the west was won", and this could cause some to have a negative view of this story, especially those of a righteous bent. As always, though, his work seems well researched and, although obviously fiction, is probably more reflective of reality than much of what passes for official histories.
To summarize, I loved this book and the performance. I will likely listen to it again, which is high praise indeed from me. If, however, you are looking for more of a "Civil War" story, then you may be disappointed.