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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 members say

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.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not really a Novel of the American West

This is not really a novel of the American West. Nor is it a novel of much of anything except a handful of characters playing superficial, stereotypical roles. The vignettes lack any cohesiveness, emotional drive or moral storyline. Very disappointing, very predictable and one gets the impression that it was written to fulfill a per page commitment / contract . The narration by the excellent George Guidall is superb.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good sequel

I locked on to this series because it was compared to two of my favorite books, Lonesome Dove and The Son. A family saga spanning some important times of our history. For the first half of the book I wasn’t sure I would be interested in finishing the series. The first book was great. This one was good, however it did a great job setting up the 3rd book. The second half of the book won me back so I will be ordering the 3rd with my next credit. If you enjoy history and family sagas I recommend throwing a credit at this one

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gritty, tough series of novels that ring true

Well written and performed series of novels that do a good job of depicting the feast or famine life of small ranchers and farmers. You'll remember these stories and the great characters, but you won't always like them.

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  • E Azevedo
  • WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States
  • 09-09-18

Loved this book

Second book I have read by this author. I plan on reading them all. Fast paced, a real page turner, wonderful imagery, just the kind of book I love.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As good as it gets...

I didn’t want this story to end. McGarrity is a master of character, era and place. A shame that I can’t give more than five stars. Guidall is my sixth star.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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 of 12 people found this review helpful