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Two strangers, young men from Pennsylvania and South Carolina, meet on the way to West Point.... Thus begins this brilliant novel of antebellum America, spanning three generations and chronicling the lives and loves of two great family dynasties. The Hazards and the Mains are brought together in bonds of friendship and affection that neither jealousy nor violence can shatter - until a storm of events sunders the nation and brings the cataclysm of war!
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 develops 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.
53 of 55 people found this review helpful
BUT NOT THE FACTS.
I listened to all 30 + hours of this, which says a lot. I rarely listened to something this long unless it can hold my attention. I have to admit that it started out a little slow and after about three hours, I just about gave up on it. The first five chapters reads a lot like a history book. I love historical fiction, I hate dry history. I really got into it in chapter six and it was pretty good the rest of the way, with just an occasional flat spot.
THE RACE IS TO THE DRIVEN, NOT THE SWIFT
I enjoyed learning about life at West Point and about troopers stationed in the Wild West. I did not realize that Indians were made slaves as well as blacks. I did not realize just how much the South and North hated each other. I was shocked to her about a girl of the 1800's pulling a train. There are several sex scenes in this.
THERE IS JUST ONE THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF WICKED MEN AND THAT IS FOR GOOD MEN TO REMAIN QUIET.
Another reviewer mentioned the four evil characters. I will admit they spiced up the book, but they were very one dimensional. They were all evil, no gray. As much as I liked the book, I do not believe Jakes to be as good a story teller as Michael Shaara or Conn Iggulden. He might be a little better then Jeff Shaara or Newt Gingrich. Since it was not a five star book, I will most likely not continue the series.
The narrator was excellent and made listening better then reading.
23 of 25 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
YES! I enjoyed these books when they were published. I wanted to re-read them and this was an enjoyable way to review the story. Grover Gardner is exceptional. His voice is smooth and melodious. I really enjoyed this again.
What did you like best about this story?
Remembering the characters.
What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?
Superb! I love the books he narrates.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Passions regarding slavery.
Any additional comments?
The story is very long and will require some adjustments to fit in the time. You will not want to get only an hour in each day. Look over your schedule and start this when you can commit some time because it will draw you in, sleep will be pushed to the bottom of the list so you can listen more.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
During Jakes research, he read Bruce Catton's civil war studies and came across the above quote and referenced it in his afterword. I was struck by its unusually apt descriptiveness and therefore used it as my review headline.
There are many wonderful things about this book: it's well researched, richly panoramic, excellently narrated and beautifully written. It is very easy to feel you know the main characters as they grow and experience life. They're well rounded and quite human in all aspects. The growing political and civil unrest in this period of our country's development is described such that you also get a quite tasty history lesson along with the characters' storylines.
There are however several characters (4 of whom are primary to the story) that are truly sadistic bullies. Their sheer meanness is predominantly against other whites and not aimed at the slave population. I came to believe that this was true because the slaves were "property" and therefore not seen as a logical target of enmity. These cruel characters were so despicable that I questioned why they were necessary to the overall story arc. I would have understood 1 or 2 ... but 4?? Therefore my 4 star rating for the story.
I will get the other 2 books of this trilogy immediately. The series is well worth your time and credits.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this pre-Civil War novel. The stories of the characters are interwoven well with the history of the time. It took me a while before I connected with the characters, but the novel grew on me as it progressed. Love, rivalry, revenge, and slavery are big parts of this story of connections between people in the North and the South. Two families are bound by a deep friendship between West Point cadets, and the drama follows from there. The characters are a little black and white, with the bad people truly despicable and the good people almost all good. But Jakes did successfully get me rooting for the good guys and hating the bad guys. While it felt a bit manipulative at times, I let it happen and enjoyed the listen. The story has a good number of characters and subplots, and is wrapped smartly into a cohesive whole. The history was more believable than the characters. I rarely read or listen to a sequel right away, but I have already bought the sequel to this and will listen to it next. The reader is solid and well suited to this story.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Im glad they redid the North and South books..I've already bought the old DVD series with Patrick Swayze, I bought the preorder of book two,i cant wait to start it..With all the true events of the civil war and the that time John Jakes does a great job putting two families from different walks together.. The love and hate the two families have for each other will test the times..And it wont be easy,this is a must read...
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
I wish I hadn't started and now I'm hooked. I harbor doubts about s number of anachronisms that detracted from my enjoyment. It gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with the rise of political machines along with the rise of corporate monopolies. I also feel the characters are poorly developed.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What was most disappointing about John Jakes’s story?
There were so many horribly, small, mean-spirited, vicious characters, and so much time spent on them instead of on the characters I wanted to like, that it was painful to read. <br/><br/>Jakes also insults the reader by TELLING us the character's motivation after he's SHOWN us, as if he doesn't trust the reader to have a mind.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
The narrator was good. He made the book bearable.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
there is a great deal of redundancy....and unfortunately when developing a story around facts, the creativity is sometime lacking. as it was in this novel. Jakes used the same devices to create friction in the text over and over again, which made it sometimes boring and unimaginative.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from John Jakes and/or Grover Gardner?
I don't know if I would try another John Jakes book, but I would give Grover Gardner another try.
Would you recommend North and South to your friends? Why or why not?
I would probably not recommend North and South because it was kind of dry. I'm a fan of historical fiction, but this was kind of shallow and repetitive. Everyone is very one dimensional.
What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
I don't know how much a narrator could pull out of this book. He did the northern and southern accents, unfortunately the characters really had nothing to say.
Was North and South worth the listening time?
It was something to fill freeway time. It is better than AM radio.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A thought provoking characterisation of two families fighting to keep their friendships alive while their country tears itself apart. Looking forward to the next 2 books.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
jakes has kept so true to history with the facts and events while mixing them perfectly with the fiction within the story. he has created a stoey that has lots of plots and storylines and every one of them are interesting and keep you wanting more. grover narrates this perfectly. the accents make you feel like you are actually there! absolutely loved this and look forward to the next two books in he series.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful