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As she lays there, she looks back on the momentous events of her life. I doubt that Eli, a staunch opponent of Franklin Roosevelt, would have deigned to participate in a program that was one of the centerpieces of the New Deal. The same with Peter and his diary. Does anyone write long pages of dialogue in their diaries?

No, of course not. The lead-up to the massacre is as tense and unforgettable as anything in The Searchers. The massacre itself is a terrifying explosion of violence that is masterfully effective in mixing the graphic with the discreet: [M]ost of the Indians were standing looking at something on the ground. I realized it was my mother and by the way the man was moving and the bells on his legs were jingling I knew what he was doing to her. After awhile he stood up and retied his breechcloth. Another jumped right into place.

I had just gotten to my feet when my ears started ringing and the ground came up and I thought I was dead for certain…A while later I heard noises again. The Indians were doing the same to her as my mother… Young Eli is taken captive by the Comanche. Eventually, he is adopted into the tribe, taking quickly to their way of life. Slowly, the Comanche, who first appear as shadows and demons during their midnight raid, are revealed as people.

The research that went into the evocation of their vanished way of life is amazing I wish Meyer had included a bibliography, or at least a mention of the books he used. Just as great an accomplishment are his Comanche characters. Their profane dialogue, studded with f-words and detailed sexual banter, sounds a bit anachronistic. But it also sounds like the way friends talk amongst themselves. Instead of Indian characters who are either inhuman savages or noble gamekeepers the Dances With Wolves dichotomy , speaking with a stilted, passive-voiced oratorical style, you get Indian characters who are simply human.

It is impressive writing. More than that, it is refreshing, especially given the treatment of the Comanche in even modern histories. For example, S. Gwynn, in Empire of the Summer Moon , describes them in near-barbarous terms, conjuring an image of Stone-Age cave-dwellers with only lower-order functioning. Against this fundamental drama, the Peter and Jeannie chapters necessarily suffer by comparison.

It took awhile for me to become invested, but Meyer ultimately provides her with two or three or four beautiful vignettes that efficiently and effectively describe the course of her life. The reason, I suppose, is that Peter is saddled with the weight of being the moral compass of the McCullough family. This makes him a good guy but also a wet blanket.

His chapters take place during a time of high tension on the Tex-Mex border, when America almost went to war with Mexico. He is witness to a brutal confrontation between his family and a neighboring ranch owned by a man named Pedro Garcia. The climax to this neighborly squabble ultimately defines the brooding, philosophical-minded Peter. However, despite a drop in dramatic urgency, the novel itself never falters. The three interweaving plot threads all inform each other: in one chapter, a character is alive and young; in the next, he or she might be old or a ghost, but still resonating.

The Son weighs in at around pages. Not short, but certainly not terribly long, either. Especially not for a canvas this large. Despite the relative brevity, the unfilled spaces in the lives of these characters, The Son achieves almost perfect balance. I thought about these fictional people long after I finished the novel. There are so many comparisons to be made to other great works. In time, this might be the great American novel. At least if I get the vote. View all 9 comments. May 13, Michael rated it it was amazing Recommended to Michael by: will byrnes.

Shelves: farming , family-relationships , mexico , world-war-1 , fiction , texas , racism , civil-war , hispanic , native-american. A great read for me—I could hardly put it down. Everything is big in Texas, and in this saga a family line gets big in alignment with a big history.

Meyer sticks stays mostly with three fascinating and complex characters of three different generations of the McCulloch family, spanning about a century and a half. The frontispiece contains the lineage for the three: patriarch Eli, his son Peter, and great-granddaugh A great read for me—I could hardly put it down. The frontispiece contains the lineage for the three: patriarch Eli, his son Peter, and great-granddaughter Jeannie, whose alternating voices spin out the tale.

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The period for Eli covers from the time of early Anglo and German immigrant pioneers to a south Texas border zone between the Nueces Rio Grande Rivers, the transition from open range cattlemen to fenced ranching, a and larger wave of settlement stimulated by the rise of railroads. Eli and Peter are both marked from events surrounding the brutal competition for land and dominion between the new settlers and Spanish families in residence for a century or more. But they are shaped in opposite ways. The earth had seen nothing like it since the Mongones; they drove the Apaches into the sea, destroyed the Spanish army, turned Mexico into a slave market.

Also in the first pages the voice Jeannie appears, also reflecting back from old age, 86, many years later. As a tomboy in love with the ranch and land, she admired ancient Eli above all. In Sunday school as a girl she recalls: When she asked the teacher what would happen to the Colonel …the teacher said he was going to hell, where he would be tortured by Satan himself. She was a disgraceful little scamp. She would have been whipped if she were Mexican. Where the privileged sons of the family wander away from home base, Jeannie fulfills the mission of Eli to grow the family wealth by becoming an oil tycoon.

He bears the sins of the fathers, and in response he transgresses the rules of the culture. His despairs of human destructiveness: The entire earth, it seems, is being slowly transformed into a desert; mankind will die off and something new will replace it. There is no reason that there should only be one human race. I was likely born a thousand years too early, or ten thousand. One day those like my father will seem like the Romans who fed Christians to the lions. To give God a second chance. These three voices were incredibly real for me, revealing characters of mythic proportions, but achingly real.

Most of all, I appreciated the sense of place evoked in the story. I lived for a time in the Hill Country of Texas, which ends just to the north and east of this sparsely populated area of dry grassland, Dimmit County. Thus, I could relate to the flora and fauna, such as the cottonwoods and live oaks, the hawks and vultures. I miss those vistas beneath the big sky that makes you feel small and large at the same time. How does one make a mark of the history of a place so big, and how does one emerge from a history that marks you with terrible sacrifices?

The year he died, there were still living Texans who had seen their parents scalped by Indians. The land was thirsty. Something primitive still in it. The Visigoths had destroyed the Romans, and had themselves been destroyed by the Muslims. You do not need Hitler to see that it was not a pleasant story. It was just as likely the opposite …The strong took from the weak, only the weak believed otherwise, and if God was out there, he was just as the Greeks and Romans suspected; a trickster, an older brother who spent all his time inventing ways to punish you.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this book. It gave me some of the same pleasures of life's triumphs and losses against the backdrop of history of the American West as McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove". Jun 02, Roxane rated it liked it. Starts impressively but overall, feels too deliberate, too polished, too forcibly epic. Weird proofreading errors in several places. The narrative frame collapses about a third of the way through, just, utterly.

The most compelling sections are those from Peter McCullough's diaries. He is, by far, the moral compass of this novel and the most well-drawn character. At times, the book reads like a history textbook. Absolutely grating. Too much of the writer inserting himself in the prose at times. The ending is rushed. If you're going to write an epic, write an epic. A total missed opportunity. The women are mostly narrow, and essentially serve as sexual vessels in one form or another. This is a man's book, for sure, and I get what the overall project is here, re: creation myths and the American west and so on.

It's a good Western.

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It is not Don't get me wrong, Meyer is very talented, but this book is not nearly as good as the "buzz" suggests. And I'm probably wrong on this, and it's just me, but ugh, not my cup of tea. I feel like I'd rather read Michener. View all 6 comments. I had loved Meyer's American Rust when I read it during a holiday in Pennsylvania a couple of years back; a trip to Texas last week seemed like a good excuse to read his follow-up, which showed every sign of being a culmination of his many talents.

The Son is a sprawling, multigenerational family tale, not a million miles away from the kind of AGA-saga that people like Joanna Trollope have been writing for years, though because the author is male and American the book — which in alternating chap I had loved Meyer's American Rust when I read it during a holiday in Pennsylvania a couple of years back; a trip to Texas last week seemed like a good excuse to read his follow-up, which showed every sign of being a culmination of his many talents.


The Son is a sprawling, multigenerational family tale, not a million miles away from the kind of AGA-saga that people like Joanna Trollope have been writing for years, though because the author is male and American the book — which in alternating chapters follows the members of three different generations from the s to the present day — has been lauded as some kind of revolution in narrative structure. The earliest storyline, which is by far the most compelling there's problem one , consists of a first-person account by the family patriarch, who was abducted by Comanches and brought up first as a slave and eventually as an accepted member of the tribe.

Here Meyer is in fine deadpan Western mode, channelling Faulkner and — especially — inviting risky comparisons with Cormac McCarthy, in relation to whom Meyer occasionally seems almost to be a pasticheur: By sundown the walls of the canyon looked to be on fire and the clouds coming off the prairie were glowing like smoke in the light, as if this place were His forge and the Creator himself were still fashioning the earth. Meyer's prose style is not as distinctive as McCarthy's, and he doesn't have quite the same bleakness of vision Meyer reacts to man's violence with weariness and sympathy, while McCarthy reacts with pure horror , but he does have a stronger sense of plot and incident.

Following Eli McCullough's early life as a Comanche captive is totally compelling from a purely narrative point of view, the inside portrayal of Comanche life is impressively convincing, and interleaving the stories of Eli's descendants makes it very clear how this violence was handed down to future generations. There is a practical point being made here, which appealed to me: it's not anything high-flown about the metaphysics of conflict and death, but rather about the sober realities of how the American West was built on constant cycles of killing — whether of animals, Native Americans, Mexicans or neighbours — and how these cycles do not just replay endlessly in place but are also even exported notice how later generations of McCulloughs, heavily involved in the oil industry, discuss creating further opportunities in Iran and Iraq.

On the ranch they had found points from both the Clovis and the Folsom, and while Jesus was walking to Calvary the Mogollon people were bashing each other with stone axes. They were all wiped out by the Apaches. Who were in turn wiped out, in Texas anyway, by the Comanches. Who were finally wiped out by the Americans. The book's title, then, doesn't refer to any son in particular. Rather, it brings to mind Biblical warnings about where the sins of the father will be visited: that sense of retribution, unfairness, and cyclical violence is what the novel is finally about.

1. John Coffee Hays

The cycles have not stopped and they show every sign of continuing to play out until we're all long gone. The question is, do you need six hundred pages to illustrate that point? I felt that you didn't, and the book overstayed its welcome slightly for me; from around the halfway mark, I was silently urging, yes, yes, we get it and battling a growing sense that the more modern strands of narrative were underdeveloped and contributing little — they wouldn't stand on their own two feet and only worked as adjuncts to the richer story of the s.

This practical problem, I suspect, is what motivated the novel's structure. Nevertheless, there are passages in here, of Comanche raids and southwestern hoodoos, that I wouldn't have missed for anything; and as a man-hands-on-misery-to-man family drama, it's full of gruff charm, emotional resonance, and pointed reflections on what lies behind the making of America. View all 12 comments.

Jul 05, Howard rated it it was amazing Shelves: american-west , texas , favorite , american-history , fathers-and-sons , coming-of-age , tall-woman , fathers-and-daughters , war , western-fiction. This is a review that I originally posted in July, For some inexplicable reason it vanished without leaving any explanation.

Since it is a favorite book of mine, I am re-posting it. Eli McCullough. The Declaration of Independence that bore the Republic of Texas out of Mexican tyranny was ratified March 2, , in a humble shack at the edge of the Brazos. I was the first male child of this new republic. He has not only seen it all, he has lived it. In his lifetime, he was a Comanche captive, Texas Ranger, Confederate colonel, cattle baron, and oil tycoon. Obviously, it had to be a long life -- and it was — one hundred years. How a young helpless boy at the mercy of his Comanche captors eventually became a wealthy tyrant wielding almost absolute power is at the heart of the novel.

Today, without the help of any whiskey, I have reached the conclusion: I am no one. Looking back over my forty-five years I see nothing worthwhile — what I had mistaken for a soul appears more like a black abyss — I have allowed others to shape me as they pleased. To ask the Colonel I am the worst son he has ever had…. There is no reward for such views. In fact, most people see him as a weak man -- and that includes his father.

She had grown up knowing that if a drought went on another year, or the ticks got worse, or the flies, if any single thing went wrong, the family would not eat. Of course, they had oil by then; it was an illusion. But her father had acted as if it was true, and she had believed it, and so it was. Her family had owned the town. People made no sense to her. There had never been a place for a person like her. If the Colonel had a soul mate, it was his great-granddaughter, Jeanne Anne. As far as the Colonel was concerned, Peter was too soft and idealistic and in his own way, so was Charles, who was too tied to cattle and the land.

The Colonel understood that down through the ages through war and conquest the land had been won and lost many times and he believed that it was subject to occurring again, that historical progress was a matter of destroying what had come before. Therefore, one should extract what one could from the land while one could. Charles wanted only to be a cattleman, but cattle ranching was a losing proposition.

Despite his capture as a boy by the Comanches and their initial cruel treatment of him, the Colonel learned not only to respect them, but also to view them as family. They were practically the only people that he held in esteem. He viewed the poor Mexicans of the area as people whose labor was to be exploited.

But he also believed that the prosperous Mexicans who owned land were to be exploited as well. He believed that their time had passed and he viewed their property as fair game for the taking -- and he took. His opinion of most of the whites in the area wasn't much higher either, with one exception.

McCulloch's Last Stand

He had good things to say about the German settlers living around the town of Fredericksburg: "Before the Germans came, it was thought impossible to make butter in a southern climate. It was also thought impossible to grow wheat. A slave economy does that to the human mind, but the Germans, who had not been told otherwise, arrived and began churning first-rate butter and raising heavy crops of the noble cereal, which they sold to their dumbfounded neighbors at a high profit. If, upon passing some field, you noticed the soil was level and the rows straight, the land belonged to a German.

If the field was full of rocks, if the rows appeared to have been laid by a blind Indian, if it was December and the cotton had not been picked, you knew the land was owned by one of the local whites, who had drifted over from Tennessee and hoped that the bounties of Dame Nature would, by some witchery, yield him up a slave. View all 14 comments. Jun 14, Darwin8u rated it it was amazing Shelves: aere-perennius , Its narrative strength, however, is equaled by its detail and its multi-generational epic arc.

This is a novel that is a pure descendant of Melville, Faulkner, Cather and McCarthy perhaps, not quite up to their snuff, but a valiant effort. These authors set the stage that allowed Meyer to carve his novel out of the rich soil of the Texas and to shoot another Western myth into the the innumerable stars in the sky. View all 13 comments.

Jul 05, Amanda rated it really liked it Shelves: blog. Their stories are inextricably bound to the violent birth and coming of age of Texas. Through his exploration of the chains of familial duty and legacy, Meyer is depicting more than just the turbulent years of our country's pioneering past.

Texas serves as a microcosm through which Meyer skillfully explores the cyclical rise and fall of empire: the success of a tribe or a country or a family is written in the blood of another, one generation crashes into the next, a king must fall before "the son" can take his place. And yet it's more than that--when men build empires, they stare into the abyss of their own mortality and try to leave their mark on a world and a history so vast, so infinite that even the most significant of lives will eventually be consumed and forgotten. Passing the torch to the next generation becomes the only form of immortality one can hope for.

But what happens when the next generation wants to build their own legacy, or can't make peace with the sins committed in their family's past? This is particularly evident in the chapters following Peter McCullough, a man defined by a guilt that's not his own, and also in the chapters about Jeannie McCullough, a woman who has to blaze her own trail to keep the family name alive.

The chapters about Eli McCullough are the most engrossing and Meyer doesn't pick sides in presenting the ensuing conflicts between pioneers and the Native Americans. There is no noble savage here; the Comanche are capable of stomach-churning violence raping and mutilating Eli's mother and sister before his eyes, torturing enemies in their camp, raping and brutalizing captives , but they are also compassionate and funny in their relationships with one another.

The same is true of the pioneers--engaging in unspeakable acts of cruelty against the Comanche and other tribes, they are not monsters entire. Instead, both sides are all human with "Something of the reptile in us yet, the caveman's allegiance to the spear. An overall excellent novel, the only reason I'm giving it a 4 out of 5 star is because it is grim reading, which made me long for a bit of Larry McMurtry's ability to balance grim reality with the humor in life.

Also, I found the presentation of the three differing narratives perplexing. The Eli and Peter chapters are told in first person, while Jeannie's are told in third which may be to show her struggle for "voice". Eli's chapters are originally presented as the result of an interview done at the end of his life, but do not read as an interview.

Peter's chapters are told in the form of a diary, which reads like no diary ever kept by anyone in human existence. Instead, they read just like novel narrative, continuing for pages with exact dialogue and lengthy descriptions with little to designate them as diary entries other than the occasional insertion of a date. These conventions, the interview and the diary, seemed unnecessary and were at times off-putting.

There was little to differentiate the voices of Eli, Peter, and Jeannie, but maybe that's the point--that theirs is the voice of history relating a story that will be told time and time again with no one learning its lessons. Jul 06, Trish rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-novel , western , fiction , gritty.

This is a big summer blockbuster of a novel—a huge book that can keep one occupied for days. The world looks a little different after a session with it—we feel wonder and regret in equal shares: wonder at human diversity and commonality evident at the same time; regret at our inability to comprehend this and share our bounty until it is too late. Three generations of Texans represented by Eli, Peter, and Jeanne struggle through Comanche raids and the discovery of oil from the mid-nineteenth throu This is a big summer blockbuster of a novel—a huge book that can keep one occupied for days.

Three generations of Texans represented by Eli, Peter, and Jeanne struggle through Comanche raids and the discovery of oil from the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth centuries. Eli is the "son" about whom the others revolve, and his life is the most finely described and keenly felt. But the time and distance we readers enjoy as the generations play out is what brings the book to fruition: life lessons and realizations about the human condition result.

Comparisons have been made of Philipp Meyer with Cormac McCarthy and I can see why: the country is that same hard, brutal, violent landscape that McCarthy paints so memorably. Meyer has his own style, however. Sentences are longer and in this novel the timeline is far longer. The threads come together at the end, and we see who sired whom, and which family is still standing. What is remarkable as the story unfolds, is how the large scope of the story smooths out the individual agonies and gives us instead a kind of justice—what we like to call divine justice—but it is really no more than human history to date.

If it went on a little longer, perhaps, the wheel would have turned once again. There may be some in the future who have actually learned from our past, but judging from the folks that survive in this book, the hope is a faint one. Jeanne : "But the slackening. By five she and her brothers were throwing loops. By ten she was at the branding fire.

Her grandchildren were not good at anything and did not have much interest in anything either. She wondered if the Colonel would even recognize them as his descendants, felt briefly defensive for them, but of course it was true. Something was happening to the human race. That is what all old people think, she decided… When the first men arrived, she told them, there were mammoths, giant buffalo, giant horses, saber-toothed tigers, and giant bears.

The American cheetah—the only animal on earth that could outrun a pronghorn antelope. Her grandsons … went inside to watch television. But at what point was it not better at all? People needed something to worry about or they would destroy themselves, and she thought of her grandchildren and all the grandchildren yet to come. A single man can make a difference. You could butcher and pillage, but as long as you did it for people you loved, it never mattered…there is a myth about the West, that it was founded and ruled by loners, while the truth is just the opposite; the loner is a mental weakling, and was seen as such, and treated with suspicion.

You did not live long without someone watching your back and there were very few people, white or Indian, who did not see a stranger in the night and invite him to join the campfire. Had to do it, acted on instinct , the sheriff just nodding away, sipping our whiskey, my father refilling his glass.

Considered interrupting them to note that the entire history of humanity is marked by a single inexorable movement—from animal instinct toward rational thought, from inborn behavior toward acquired knowledge. A half-grown panther abandoned in the wilderness will grow up to be a perfectly normal panther.

But a half-grown child similarly abandoned will grow up into an unrecognizable savage, unfit for normal society. Yet there are those who insist the opposite: that we are creatures of instinct, like wolves. You really do not want to miss this big, absorbing saga. Meyer has written another novel, American Rust , which was likewise memorable, about living in the Rust Belt in Pennsylvania. These are, for the most part, books about men. But that is fine—he does this with great skill. I think I will always have Meyer on my list of must-reads.

View all 15 comments. Jul 10, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. As is often the case, his review hits it out of the park. This book. I disappeared for a few days while reading it! I was late picking up a child. I passed on a night out with a friend.

I kept my eyes down whilst walking my dog. Real life? That's all I've got for now. View all 10 comments. Jan 29, Justin Sorbara-Hosker rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. I wasnt halfway through before I knew this would be a favourite, as long as he didnt screw up the end he doesn't. By the end, I thought that the Great American novel is alive and well - and this novel is an instant classic.

Any of the three storylines could be a novel on their own, but the fact that there are three, woven together, and the timing on the POV switches is what makes this a great thing. Entertain me, take me off this boring streetcar, take me somewhere. This book does that — and as a bonus, it offers all the insights and questions about people and relationships that the literary novel does.

And Meyer still has passages and sentences that make you put the book down for a second in admiration, though he's not showing off at all. This is a five star, and I'm not sure the last time I assigned that to a novel. Probably The Sisters Brothers, and that may have been too generous. This is one, no doubt. I will be re-reading it, and that's probably my benchmark. That gets a book on the 'favourites' shelf. He does alter his pacing near the last third, and at first it's jarring, but its soon apparent - tension is ramping up. But perhaps this isn't fair'; if the three characters share equal 'screen time' in the book, the primary female character is just as well drawn and conceived as the males, perhaps even more so.

The other characters being his son, and his great granddaughter. You know you have a thing when you are considering calling in sick to stay home with your book. I am curious right now two months away from publication how much it will break out. I would bet my hat it will get a National nomination, but I am so close to this kind of thing that I wonder about my judgment. It deserves to sell by the boatload, and every American nomination that its eligible for.

If you're a fan of muscular, gritty fiction, you should get on this right away. A beautifully written family saga I listened to via audiobook. Set in Texas and seen through the eyes of three generations, this story about the rise of Texas and the early frontier in America is a not-to-miss book. My favorite character was Eli McCullough. Starting with his capture at 13 years old by the Comanches, and bringing him through to his old age. What a larger-than-life character.

A definite 5 stars! View all 7 comments. Feb 27, Rebecca rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , dirty-realism , reviewed-bookbag , door-stoppers. This momentous American story ranks among the best novels of the new century. See my full review at The Bookbag. Well, I finished. I read it through to the end. I have to apologize to my friend Diane for giving her the bad advice to snap up the ARC of this that we saw at a book event because I had already snapped up my ARC at a previous event. This novel has had so much buzz! I listened to and read so many, many positive reviews and I can say that for the most part, I can understand all the buzz.

This novel is epic. The subject matter is very interesting the settlement of Texas and there were two chara Well, I finished. The subject matter is very interesting the settlement of Texas and there were two characters that I found sympathetic. But it's a dude book.

Jodi Thomas

Again, I picked a dude book. Not just because it is astonishingly vulgar but this author doesn't have a good sense of what it's like to be a woman.

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  6. I have new appreciation for male authors that can inhabit their female characters. The characters and their relation to each other was so confusing. If I had a dollar for every time I had to page to the front to double-check the family tree I'd be wearing Louboutins right now. Mar 25, JanB rated it really liked it Shelves: audiobook. I listened to the audiobook and Will Patton and Kate Mulgrew were phenomenal.

    They definitely increased my enjoyment of the story. And what a story it is. After a very strong start, I thought it would easily be a 5 star read, but the middle felt a little bloated and my interest flagged a bit. Not 3. Not uncommon for a book that is pages long and nearly 18 hours of listening time.

    I would still highly recommend the book. Eli is definitely the star of the book - but not likable - and it will be interesting to see how Brosnan interprets the character. View all 16 comments. Jun 06, switterbug Betsey rated it it was amazing Shelves: pulitzer-material. Like his predecessors, Meyer illustrates the ruthless, violent forms of blood-spilling murder it takes to build the future of a land.

    Death begets life. People are conditioned to believe in their rights of land possession, and history point fingers at those who stole land from those that used to occupy it. Wars are fought over territory, and a Epic, savage, surly, and brimming with ideas, Philipp Meyer's sweeping historical tale of Texas demands shelf space with Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurty. Wars are fought over territory, and arguments continue on the authority of the privileged. But, as Meyer blazingly illuminates, the rights of possession were stolen from others, who scalped it from others, who poached it from others And the Indians from whom his people had stolen it had themselves stolen it from other Indians.

    They thought that simply because they had stolen something, no one should be allowed to steal it from them. The legacies of fathers to sons and one narrator, a daughter are tough and soul scorching. The prose is as muscular and sinewy as a prized thoroughbred, the story as pitiless as a rattlesnake in a desert. And yet, there's an undulating tenderness, a tremendous amount of empathy that is elicited from the reader.

    Who were destroyed by the Spanish and Portugese. You did not need Hitler to see that it was not a pleasant story May 13, Laura rated it it was amazing. I loved this book immediately. The characters pull you in and keep you interested from beginning to end. Thankful that the author included the family tree, I frequently reminded myself who was who. Highly recommend this read! Nov 14, Abby rated it it was amazing Shelves: , recent-favorites. I have no particular affinity for Texas. I don't know and don't care to know the difference between a llano and a barranca or a shotgun and a rifle.

    But I just spent two weeks with ranchers, Rangers, braves, drillers, riggers, vaqueros and several generations of a fabulously wealthy and powerful family and had a perfectly wonderful time. This isn't the picturesque Old West of saloon brawls, gunfights and fallen women. Nor are there heroes and villains.

    In this Texas, most everyone kills when nec I have no particular affinity for Texas. In this Texas, most everyone kills when necessary and steals as a matter of course. That's how you gain property and get rich. Eli McCullough, the first of the book's narrators, was born in on the day Texas became a republic. As an adolescent, he kills Indians when they raid his family's home, kills whites after he is captured by Comanches and assimilated into the tribe, and later kills Indians again as a Texas Ranger.

    In a pivotal and brutal episode, the McCulloughs, on the pretext of some stolen horses, massacre and appropriate property from their neighbors, Mexicans who generations earlier had taken the land from the Indians. Eli's son, Peter, the second narrator, has a conscience and is scorned as weak by his ruthless father. Peter's granddaughter, Jeannie, takes us to the present day.

    Patronized as a young woman, she eventually runs the family's cattle and oil empire, is one of the wealthiest women in the world and, in old age, reflects on her life and her family's legacy. The most riveting sections of the book narrate Eli's capture and years with the Comanches. Less dramatic but equally vivid is the only meaningful stretch of the novel that takes place outside Texas: Jeannie's short-lived sojourn at an elite New England boarding school, a doomed attempt to make her a proper helpmate in the ruling class to which her family aspires.

    This is one of those books that didn't bear the weight of my expectations. It is a multi-generational saga, "epic" for sure but never quite feeling "sweeping" or grand. And finally, and certainly no fault of Meyer's and returning to those above-mentioned expectations , I could not "un-read" the comparisons to James Michener and Cormac McCarthy.

    I should know better by now that these tend to be tossed around: It's epic, so it's Michener. It's violent, so it's McCarthy. And honestly, I wish this novel was more of either of those two authors. So, a whole lot of good ingredients that ultimately just did not come together in a totally satisfying final dish.

    But despite what seems to be some clear criticisms above, I was left with an overwhelming hazy feeling of a missed connection -- characters and stories that seemed to be held an arm's length away and wished I could have "felt" more. Aug 13, Robert rated it it was ok. I started off enjoying the book and was not surprised to learn that Philipp Meyer is influenced by James Michener. I had great hopes that the book would develop into that type of sweeping saga.

    However by halfway through I was forcing myself to finish it. This multi-generational saga is recounted by three members of the family, but the author does not succeed in really giving them individual voices. The style of all three is very similar and a lot of the writing is done in a trance like style. P I started off enjoying the book and was not surprised to learn that Philipp Meyer is influenced by James Michener.

    Peter's chapters could have done with some vicious editing. The story line was thin and his character was not developed. With the exception of Eli, none of the characters develop properly. The JA that emerges from the pages is just not credible as the hard-driving, highly intelligent person she must have been to achieve what she did. Other than Eli's time with the Comanche, none of the characters develop any real relationships with another human being.

    On the positive side, I really enjoyed learning about 19th century Texas and the lives and customs of the Comanche. Although I suspect his description of the sexual habits of the Comanche are wishful thinking. It is not clear to me how Eli could have been a decent man among the Comanche, developing real relationships and loyalty, yet not be able to achieve that in his later life with his wife or any other family member or friend. This is certainly not the Great American Novel, although it did have potential.

    I give this 3. I finished this a few days ago but wasn't sure how I wanted to rate it. I loved the story of Eli, especially when he is with the Indians. Jeannie and Peter's stories I also liked they just weren't as captivating. I'm not sure why maybe it's my "olderish" brain but I had trouble keeping track of who was who in the family but luckily there is a family tree at the beginning of the book.

    I feel the author does a great job describing Texas in that time period. I could really I give this 3. I could really picture it in my mind. The ending of both Peter and Jeannie's storyline I did not see coming. The only reason I did not give this 4 stars is that I thought it was a bit long winded. I am recording the tv series to see how they play out this massive tale. He seems too polished. Meyer's book is a sprawling family chronicle told through the eyes of four members of the McCullough family spanning from the s to modern times.

    Only one of the characters, family patriarch Eli has a story that is compelling enough to keep me wanting more. Kidnapped as a boy and raised by Comanches, he later goes on to become a Texas Ranger and Confederate officer before starting his family empire. I liked his character so much that all others were pale caricatures by comparison. I do love stories with early Americana themes. Still, it took a while to finish and review this novel…partly because of interruptions but mostly because I never managed to fully engage with this family enough to stay absorbed in the story.

    I found them unlikeable with unremitting amoral judgment. The last veteran of the post died in at the age of , and the United Confederate Veterans became the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy. Nailed to the trees are names of the families that still participate in the annual gathering.

    Only a bad case of the measles prevented him and his brother from arriving at the Alamo before its capture by the Mexican Army in During the Mexican-American War he was chief of scouts for Col. Jack Hays' Texas regiment. After being elected to the state Legislature, McCulloch served briefly in the U. Cavalry and was then appointed governor of the Utah Territory. When the War Between the States began, Col. McCulloch accepted the surrender of the federal arsenal at the Alamo. He was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas in The first reunion at the campground occurred in the summer of Before electricity, couples whirled around the dance floor under the full moon accented by torchlight.

    Over the years the organization has added a tabernacle that looks like a giant barn without walls. There is a dining hall that also serves as a bingo hall. Restrooms and cold-water showers are available for use by guests. Many of the stone picnic tables with the members' names carved in the tops and other improvements were done by the WPA in The festival will be holding music workshops in the covered pavilions as well as on the dance floor at the campground.

    A free shuttle service will ferry concertgoers from Camp Ben to the Salt Lick Pavilion on the other side of the road and the creek where the stages and vendors will be set up. The gates open at 2pm on Friday with the music beginning at 4pm on Friday, noon on Saturday, and 9am to noon on Sunday. Camping is free but requires the purchase of a three-day pass.

    The scouting expeditions of McCulloch's Texas Rangers [Digital Version]

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