• Copperhead

  • Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles Book II
  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Tom Parker
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (356 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is the summer of 1862 and the northern army is threatening to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital.

Captain Nathaniel Starbuck, born in Boston but a Confederate hero at Manassas, is again in the thick of Civil War action. Bloodied but victorious at the battles of Ball's Bluff and Seven Pines, Nate suddenly finds himself accused of being a Yankee spy. Proving his innocence and finding the real spy will require courage and endurance rarely seen even in the brutal fog of war. Failure could mean the fall of Richmond and a career-ending defeat for Robert E. Lee.

Listen to more titles in the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles.

Don't miss the rest of Bernard Cornwell's literary masterpieces.

(P)2001 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about Copperhead

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Copperhead (Unabridged

A great listen! I've become a great fan of Bernard Cornwell. He has a wonderful ability to create believable characters and weave them into a fascinating story, while making the history of the event come alive. His battlefield descriptions are brutally real. He vividly shows what war does to those involved - the raw fear, the incredible bravery and the trembling cowardice. I will listen to all of his books, and hope he keeps on writing for a long time.

5 people found this helpful

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

A master story teller trips & falls

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A more believable and complex main character, any developed black characters at all, and not so many unlikely coincidences. (See my comments below.)

What do you think your next listen will be?

More Cornwell but not another book in the Starbuck series. It appears the author lost interest too. After 4 volumes that only got as far as Antietam, he stopped writing more installments in the series in 1996. Maybe he just gave up on trying to make an unbelievable main character believable.

What about Tom Parker’s performance did you like?

Tom Parker's performance was first rate, bringing a wide variety of characters to life.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Interesting historical detail & some engaging characters, other than the main one.

Any additional comments?

I am totally unconvinced after hearing two books in this series that the main character, Nate, given his background as the son of an abolitionist preacher and divinity student, would choose to fight for the South, especially after being brutally tortured by them. At one point, he mows down Yankees from his home town, Boston. His reasons and motives for doing so, when they are given at all, are thin and inconsistent with the rest of his character and experience. Simply saying he just had a "rebel streak," was a thoughtless kid or liked the guys he fought with doesn't cut it. Yes, there were Northern Copperheads who joined the South, but this one comes across as more of a convenient plot device than a real person. I just didn't find Nate Starbuck to be believable. Worse, he was often dull!

Also, through a wide variety of pretty well drawn characters from different social classes, the author tries to show what it was actually like to live in the South (not just on the battlefield) during the Civil War. That's commendable, but the problem is that none of these characters are black. I'm not just trying to be "politically correct" here. IMO, given the subject matter of the book, the choices made by the main character and the author's conscious development of many other Southerners, that's a huge, inexplicable, omission. Slavery is periodically deplored in the abstract. Contrary to old time conventional thinking, some Yankee characters don't mind it while some Southerners have no use for it (both of which are true), but slaves themselves appear for the most part as colorful backdrops. None of their characters or thoughts are developed over time or in detail. It's like Tom & Huck with no Jim.

I certainly don't believe the author condones slavery, but I thought he was superficial, uncomfortable and unconvincing in dealing with it. I came away wondering if he was concerned about turning off some potential readers (and losing sales), so he awkwardly danced around the issue. And BTW, I spent several of my teen and university years as a Northern transplant happily growing up South of the Mason Dixon line. I still love the South, I just didn't care for this book.

Beyond that, I found the unlikely (non-historical) coincidences in the lives of the characters that often propelled the plot were beyond belief, even for popular fiction. And, the author spends too much time dallying with some of the peripheral characters (none of whom are black), stalling the plot.

4 people found this helpful

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

Awesome Book Series

Maybe my favorite book series of all time and 100% the best on the civil war. I wish Cornwell would finish the series. Narration was great also. I would give thai series 6 stars if I could

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

Not as good as other Cornwell books

This book is similar to first book in the saga. Not great but not bad either. I did complete the book so that is a good sign but the story while good is just not what I expect from Cornwell. There are some great characters in the book but not enough is drawn out of them. Even the protagonist is somewhat dull. IMHO this saga is not as good as the Sharpe series or Agincourt, if you are new to Cornwell I would recommend starting there.
Update: I just finished book 3 Battle Flag and IMHO the series is getting better. More character definition and more action.

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

Wort,h listening. looking forward to the third

,I will listen to them all
very well written hard to put down. plus well pperfoef.



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

Loved it

Great way to learn some history. The story never slows down. Can hardly wait for the next one.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Richard Sharpe Lite

I read Cornwell's Richard Sharpe series and found it wonderful. The books of this series that he has completed are a good read, but not in the same league as Sharpe. If you haven't read Sharpe's Rifles, that is a more interesting series.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great story, horrible narrator

Great continuation of the Nathaniel Starbuck story. Dimmed somewhat by the terrible reading of the book. It's bad enough that he didn't manage to learn the place names, like Potomac, Loudoun, and Fauquier, but to not be able to correctly pronounce "grimaced", "urine", and a dozen other repeated words.
Enjoyed the book, need to send the reader back to his regular job at Burger King.

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