• Backlands

  • A Novel of the American West
  • By: Michael McGarrity
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 14 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,206 ratings)

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Backlands

By: Michael McGarrity
Narrated by: George Guidall
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Publisher's Summary

Michael McGarrity returns with the second installment of his sweeping, richly authentic New York Times best-selling American West trilogy set in the raw, untrammeled New Mexico backlands during the Roaring '20s, the Great Depression, and World War II. Hard Country, the first novel in the Kerney family trilogy and the debut prequel to his national best-selling Kevin Kerney crime novels, was critically acclaimed for its authentic, gritty realism; its sprawling, engrossing story; and its compelling, engaging characters. An instant hit on several national best seller lists, Hard Country continues to attract an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, booksellers, and audiences. Backlands advances the story of Patrick Kerney; his ex-wife, Emma; and their young son, Matthew, shortly after the tragic battlefield death of their eldest son, CJ, at the end of World War I. Scarred by the loss of an older brother he idolized, estranged from a father he barely knows, and deeply troubled by the failing health of a mother he adores, eight-year-old Matthew is suddenly and irrevocably forced to set aside his childhood and take on responsibilities far beyond his years. When the world spirals into the Great Depression and drought settles like a plague over the nation, Matt must abandon his own dreams to salvage the Kerney ranch. Plunged into a deep trough of dark family secrets, hidden crimes, broken promises, and lies, Matt must struggle to survive on the unforgiving, sun-blasted, drought-stricken Tularosa Basin. An expansive, epic tale like Philipp Meyer's The Son, and in the wonderful storyteller vein of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, McGarrity's Backlands showcases his keen eye for historical detail, awe-inspiring scenery, and the bitter harshness of life on the last vestiges of the 20th-century frontier West.

©2014 Michael McGarrity (P)2014 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Backlands

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Way too predictable

I listened to the first of this series (Hard Country) and I thought it showed some promise. Then I got this second in the series and after listening to it,I believe it way too formulaic for my taste. That's not to say that the book is bad, but it is strikingly similar to the first book. To me is was predictable, right down to the end.

107 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Life settles into a soap opera

The saga continues, Matt and his dad continue to agree to disagree, and attitudes simmer after his mother dies, and his dad is divorced once again, and has nothing to do with another son, that is half Mexican. Relationships continue to decline until Matt's father is badly injured during the depression. The ranch is in jeopardy and it takes many years for the finances to stabilize.
Lots of deals and many people help Matt down the road to success, but it is a slow hard haul,then comes a new love interest, WWII, more injuries, and deaths. And now we are off to the post war years....
This book was good...but not as magic as book I

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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George Guildall

George Guidall could narrate the worst westerner ever written and make it a great listen! He and the genre are made for each other...if he doesn't read it, I won't buy it.

Oh yeah, the book. The Kerney family trilogy is great reading, I had read the Kevin Kerney series but took a pass on the "family history" because it was not contemporary detective. Boy was I wrong. It's much better with wonderful character development and a better sense of what ranching was about with a more believable plot.

6 people found this helpful

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Just keeping it together

This is the second in a trilogy of the Kerney family struggling to survive in the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico (I read the first book, “Hard Country,” a few months ago). This book starts around the end of World War I with the focus turning to Matthew. Patrick is completely focused on running his ranch after the divorce, his ex-wife, Emma, is in failing health, and 8-year old Matthew is struggling with the death in France of the older brother that he idolizes. 

Emma’s impending death forces her to think about Matt’s future and that drives her to make contact again with Patrick. Both have lived a hard and lonely life, and neither can forgive the other or talk about what drove them apart. Matt barely knows his father but has experienced the love that neither parent felt in their own childhood and that makes him inherently different from either parent in many ways. But, his mother’s death (all this is clear at the beginning of the book and is not a spoiler) pushes him back to the ranch. He is torn between his love for horses and the ranch, the beginning of some kind of understanding of his father, and his desire for an education and a normal family. 

But, those who know the history of this time in America can guess that things will not go smoothly. We begin to see changes in the rugged west as the automobile begins to arrive and roads begin to appear (though their ranch remains far from any road until later in the book), the airplane begins to appear in the west, and communication with the rest of the world increases. Trucks begin to become a staple of a modern ranch. But, this is also the time of the insatiable optimism of the Roaring 20’s followed by the Great Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, and the disastrous long drought we now call the dust bowl. Patrick and Matt struggle to keep the ranch as well as just to get along with each other. 

The book ends in 1943 with the US now having entered into World War II. It paints a picture of the West that is different from the TV and movie Westerns. It’s no John Wayne or even Zane Grey kind of west. Even in the early 20th century and as the world enters the modern age, much of the west still provides a very hard existence. 

You don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy and understand this one, but it does help. This book is just as good and maybe even better than the first. I expect to read the third book soon. 

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Nice continuation of the Kearney story

As always a masterful performance by Mr Guidall. A nice continuation of the family story of the "taming" of the Tullarosa basin and the creep into the modern era. Times and ranching are changing, America is changing, yet the ranch and the basin are somehow left behind clinging to the old ways and the life that they are trying to preserve. Very enjoyable if somewhat sad story of life and living with all the ups and downs that it brings. Nice job of character development as they mature and grow and age.
My only real negative comment is that the story just stopped with so many questions staying unanswered. Maybe there will be a concluding third book. I hope so!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Another Good Story

The McGarrity men are hard to love but I was glad Matt found Ann. She needed to be rescued. A good story and a good reader.

3 people found this helpful

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a good read

Of course Guidall is a great reader, especially for western stories. I listen to him reading McGarrity's Kevin Kearney mystery series sometimes when I can't find a good new book.
This was a good story, not a mystery but a family history. Kept me interested.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Page turner

Wonderfully addictive. McGarrity is a true American story teller. George Guidall bring the story to life through his narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Never Before Have I Crief

never before have I listened to a book and then brought to tears;by the characters of the story and the way this wonderful tale was weaved into something that became real to me.

2 people found this helpful

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great book

great story. George Guidall does a great job narrating as usual. highly reccomend! check it out

2 people found this helpful