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Publisher's Summary

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age 13, social outcast and overachiever, is the bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

Over the years Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father's business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as scoutmaster and Jonathan's teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths - and the limits - of Nelson's selflessness and bravery.

The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality - and redemption.

©2017 Nickolas Butler (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Adam] Verner brings the necessary pathos to a story that spans decades. He ably gives life to these boys who become men and to the boys that follow. Butler's story, as read by Verner, examines what it means to be a man, exploring the ideas of family, friendship, morality, and bravery." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Enjoyed the story but the narrator

The characters and story kept my interest; however, I did not care for the narration which was affected, forced and overly dramatic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Terry
  • Prescott, AZ, United States
  • 08-01-18

Relived my summers at Camp Napi in Montana!

I am an Eagle Scout (for the past 5 decades). This story broke my heart. I cried-I laughed-I thought of old friends-some alive-some long dead. But mainly I thought of those glorious summer weeks spent on St. Mary's Lake in NW Montana at CAMP NAPI as a young Boy Scout. Much of what the author expresses is darker than I recall it. But there is the heart of the truth in every bit of this story. I was especially touched by the description of the funeral scenes. I cannot tell you how many times I have stood at the coffins of the great men who were my Scout Leaders and wept for their passing. They were a truly rare breed and their kind will not pass this way again! I will listen to this story every summer for the rest of my life! If you were a Scout and spent time at a BSA summer Camp-I encourage you to listen to this story!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • robert
  • baton Rouge, LA, United States
  • 01-12-18

I really hated this book and the narration....

so contrived, predicable, melodramatic and pseudo-moralistic.

the narrator was just downright irritating. The voicing he did for the lead character of the grown up Nelson sounded like the voice you might hear in a 1950-something "educational" film. It was almost comical.

I kept listening to it with same curiosity I might derive from watching a really bad movie, wondering if this could really get worse. It did! By the half way point, I speeded the narration up to 1.5 which is something i have never done before

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

Sad, but not hopeless

I almost stopped listening to this one in the opening chapters, because it was just so sad (I was aching for Nelson and his desire for friends ), and also during a truely awful scene between rival scout troops. So glad I stuck with it - credit the excellent narration and the good writing - because I really liked this character-based story.

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

Tightly wrought unflashy character driven

In this Richard Fordesque novel, Nickolas Butler has given us a tightly woven, character driven novel, a novel that begins in 1962, takes an interlude in 1996, and then finishes in 2019. This is about heroism, family, friendship, love. The story may not be flashy or exciting but it is definitely very instructive, there is wisdom here. The narrative performance was decent as the baritone voice had trouble modulating multiple male voices, some which sounded like radio announcers.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Roger
  • Waco, TX, United States
  • 07-12-17

A Better Title would be "The Dark Hearts of Men"

I approached this novel expecting it to be a departure from the all-too-common contemporary fiction theme of men as brutish louts. That expectation arose from the title, the fact that Boy Scouting seemed to be the background framework of the plot, that the author is a man, and the descriptions and reviews of the book. While the book is a gripping story, or contains such within it, I found it a disappointing depiction of Boy Scouting and of boys and men in general. Most of the boys and men are people I would never want to know or be around; they fit the stereotype of male brutish louts who are also sex-obsessed, bullying, misogynistic and cowardly. However, I'm sure some will point out that there are some "points of light" in the story, some boys and men who stand out as exceptional, courageous, even heroic. So it seems--until and unless you take a closer look at them. The major character of the book is a bullied Boy Scout who has good character and eventually becomes the Scoutmaster of the camp. I suspect the author and some readers think he's a truly good man, but there is one very long scene where he condones and even seems to encourage the corruption of a young boy with alcohol and sex--even when the boy resists (at first). This very long, too detailed scene in the middle of the book really disappointed me and made me wonder about the author's view of what an exceptionally good-hearted man would do in such a situation. It colored my whole view of the one seemingly consistently good-hearted man in the whole story. The final portion of the novel is about a woman, a mother of a Boy Scout, who is made to feel unwelcome at her son's Boy Scout camp by the Scouts' fathers. I wondered how welcome a father would be at a Girl Scout camp. Well, I don't know, but it was a question that should at least have been brought up by someone in the very long argument in which she was made to feel more than unwelcome by the loutish, brutish, misogynistic, mouth-breathing fathers (without exception). Overall I rate this a potentially good story spoiled, for me, anyway, by the over riding theme of the dark hearts of boys and men.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Just a Bad book!

Would you try another book from Nickolas Butler and/or Adam Verner?

This no. The Narrator is fine.

What could Nickolas Butler have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

This author thinks that morality is passe. He mocks Scouting, fatherhood and any kind of moral code to live buy. He paints fathers with no morals, and telling there sons that " if it feels good do it" no matter what the consequences are.

Which character – as performed by Adam Verner – was your favorite?

Nelson

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I feel sorry for that author, he must of have a bad childhood. He show disdain for anyone with morals. It "ok" to cheat on your spouse, have sex with prostitutes. And to tell your son that it ok to be selfish.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful