North and South

North and South

Part history, part novel, this book chronicles two great American dynasties over three generations. Though brought together in a friendship that neither jealousy nor violence could shatter, the Hazards and the Mains are torn apart by the storm of events that has divided the nation....

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Title:North and South
Author:John Jakes
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Edition Language:English

North and South Reviews

  • Karla

    As good now as it was when I last re-read it about 20 years ago. The characters are vivid, the action broad, and the emotions reflective of the thorny period of history in which the story is set. There are good people and bad (and some really bad), scenes that are both funny and tragic, and it's all a marvelous

    . No wonder they made a mini series of it.

    Since I've seen the tv version too many times to count, reading this was like watching it all over again but it was very ent

    As good now as it was when I last re-read it about 20 years ago. The characters are vivid, the action broad, and the emotions reflective of the thorny period of history in which the story is set. There are good people and bad (and some really bad), scenes that are both funny and tragic, and it's all a marvelous

    . No wonder they made a mini series of it.

    Since I've seen the tv version too many times to count, reading this was like watching it all over again but it was very entertaining to see where the screenwriters deviated. There were many little tweaks and a few huge changes. It was so hard to think of Bent as a Northerner as I read. Damn you, Philip Casnoff - and your insidious accent, too! Overall, though, the book is far richer and more satisfying.

    I rarely re-read anything, but this is on my keeper shelf and will stay there for all time. It's a very riveting saga that is written in a two-fisted popular style. The hunks of red meat just fly off the page and slap you in the face. I adore the evil nymphomaniac Ashton and her thirst for revenge and power, suffer right along with Orry and Madeline's long and tortured path to happiness (and the sequel really is a heartbreaker - no HEA for those two!), and am torn about Virgilia's militant abolitionism. (How ironic that she goes insanely Old Testament on the butts of those who use the same Bible to justify slavery.) The intersecting paths of the Mains and Hazards with their sociopathic nemesis Elkanah Bent is the stuff of melodrama and I love the unapologetic grandiosity of it all.

    I haven't read much of John Jakes outside this trilogy - I couldn't make it through

    (zzzzzzz.....) - but I still rank him as one of my favorite authors simply for this sprawling, awesome epic of the Mains and Hazards.

  • Elaine

    Someone at work was about to take the

    Trilogy to the library, but offered them to me instead. I took these three massive tomes, which I remembered dimly from the 1980s (along with the TV miniseries adaptation) with muted thanks. No, I'll never turn down a book, but I expected some poorly written, overblown mess -- something like what you'd get if VC Andrews decided to write a historical trilogy. I put it off for nearly a year, and then finally cracked open

    , full

    Someone at work was about to take the

    Trilogy to the library, but offered them to me instead. I took these three massive tomes, which I remembered dimly from the 1980s (along with the TV miniseries adaptation) with muted thanks. No, I'll never turn down a book, but I expected some poorly written, overblown mess -- something like what you'd get if VC Andrews decided to write a historical trilogy. I put it off for nearly a year, and then finally cracked open

    , fully prepared to be underwhelmed.

    Wow. I'm now on the second volume, and would like to belatedly join the John Jakes Fan Club. Wow again.

    I've lived in the South since 1986, despite growing up as a full-blooded Yankee, going back to pre-Revolution days. And of course I read

    so of course I kind of thought I knew about the Civil War.

    Wrong. It seems I'm only now starting to understand this not-so-distant history of my country. I strongly recommend this series of books to anyone who feels they need to do some catching up. John Jakes has painstakingly researched the subject and managed to personalize it through his characters. His writing is clear, very readable, detailed without being dense, and entertaining enough to keep you turning the pages. I also need to add that it's currently spring of 2012, and the political turmoil that fills the headlines today shows VERY LITTLE change from what Jakes depicts during the mid-1800s. It's sobering and more than a little scary.

    Not having finished all three books yet, I can't do proper justice to the series with a review at this point, but if there is to be any criticism, it would be a tendency to draw the villains a bit too floridly. Bent the Butcher and Ashton the scheming nympho have raised my skeptical eyebrows numerous times so far ... but they are, nonetheless, characters you "love to hate." Knowing full well that it's "only a story," I still want to find out just how much more havoc they have up their sleeves.

    I'm about 2/3 of the way through

    the second book, and will probably not pause before picking up the final installment,

    I may even get into

    John Jakes's earlier historical series. But regardless, this author has enriched my reading and learning life with

    and I'd strongly encourage any historically impaired readers to seek out these books post-haste.

  • Norman Parker

    John Jakes creates compelling characters weaving a captivating story, bringing history alive. He delivers exactly the book I wanted.

    I wanted a story to bring alive the time of the US civil war. I wanted to better understand the mindset of the people. John Jakes brings the right amount of human weakness and strength to characters, letting us into their motivations in realistic fashion. I learned the stubbornness of the Southerners and the self-righteousness of the Northerners. I learned attitudes

    John Jakes creates compelling characters weaving a captivating story, bringing history alive. He delivers exactly the book I wanted.

    I wanted a story to bring alive the time of the US civil war. I wanted to better understand the mindset of the people. John Jakes brings the right amount of human weakness and strength to characters, letting us into their motivations in realistic fashion. I learned the stubbornness of the Southerners and the self-righteousness of the Northerners. I learned attitudes of many in-between the two poles, like Southerners who were not rich enough to own slaves but were loyal to their state. I discovered abolitionists and militant abolitionists; people who wanted peace, and people who wanted war.

    This gives me new respect for creative people with creative solutions to thorny societal problems. I did not know that, Emerson I think it was, suggested the idea of paying the slave-owners to rid the country of slavery. Twenty-twenty hindsight shines light on ideas that would probably have worked; while imperfect they would have avoided bloodshed. I can respect an imperfect solution now, knowing the damages of the war.

    Also, Mr. Jakes refrained from preaching, something so valuable while tempting in such a subject as slavery. He respects the reader enough to allow them to make up their own mind, using their own ethics.

  • Matt

    John Jakes chooses to base the first book in the trilogy during some of the most trying years of US history, the lead up to the Civil War. Jakes tells the story of two families, the Hazards and Mains, as they progress through these trying times, beginning in the early 1840s. Meeting at West Point, George Hazard of Pennsylvania and Orry Main of South Carolina soon become best friends. They forge a friendship that is severely tested at numerous points, as the United States begins to tear apart ove

    John Jakes chooses to base the first book in the trilogy during some of the most trying years of US history, the lead up to the Civil War. Jakes tells the story of two families, the Hazards and Mains, as they progress through these trying times, beginning in the early 1840s. Meeting at West Point, George Hazard of Pennsylvania and Orry Main of South Carolina soon become best friends. They forge a friendship that is severely tested at numerous points, as the United States begins to tear apart over the issue of slavery and their respective families take up the cause for their region. Viewing the issue from completely different points of view, the Hazards and Mains find themselves at odds with one another, though members of their respective families see beyond the geographic and political differences to let love and friendship bind them together. Letting the story grown from George and Orry’s experiences to those of their respective families, Jakes thickens both the plot and the character development in this powerful story, addressing many issues of the day in a forthright and clear manner. A powerful opening to the trilogy, which will surely offer many more adventures and political intrigue at a time when the United States was at its most vulnerable.

    Jakes does not only write to entertain, but surely to teach as well, a point to which he eludes in the Afterward. Forging a trilogy with such a strong political backdrop creates a setting and plot with much fodder and a great deal from which to draw. These were the most powerful and yet the weakest years of the United States as it sought to reflect upon its political strife to come out stronger. While not addressed by Jakes (again save for a sentence in the Afterward), the reader may see this novel as an eye-opening experience in the struggle between whites and blacks not properly remedied until a century later. Addressing issues around women’s rights, the divisive nature geography played in politics and commerce, as well as the abolitionist movement and inter-racial ties, Jakes offers a political commentary on all these issues in a powerfully crafted fictional tale. With raw emotion, Jakes captures the era and the nuances of daily life, making the story one of more than simply war and its devastation.

    Kudos, Mr. Jakes for this sensational opening to the series I cannot wait to dig into the second novel, hoping it is as exciting as the first.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at:

    After being trolled three times yesterday for not only reading things wrong, but also for wasting my Goodreads space and apparently everyone’s time creating picturebooks full of “stupid” and “uninformative” reviews that apparently belong on a place I’ve never heard of before called Buzzfeed (which I will make sure I remain in the dark about in order to take that as an eternal compliment) please consider this a fair warning: THIS “REVIE

    Find all of my reviews at:

    After being trolled three times yesterday for not only reading things wrong, but also for wasting my Goodreads space and apparently everyone’s time creating picturebooks full of “stupid” and “uninformative” reviews that apparently belong on a place I’ve never heard of before called Buzzfeed (which I will make sure I remain in the dark about in order to take that as an eternal compliment) please consider this a fair warning: THIS “REVIEW” IS GOING TO BE STUPID AND COMPLETELY UNINFORMATIVE AND THE ONLY PLACE IT’S WORTHY OF BEING PUBLISHED IS TUMBLR.

    This sucker has nearly 50,000 ratings and sits at 4.19 so obviously it’s considered to be pretty good. On the other hand, it’s also a real puppy squisher at 800+ pages and the first of a set of three (just as puppy squishy) books in a series so I could give zero poops if you ever read it or not. Instead I’m going to tell you about why I read it – or

    it, as the case is here . . . .

    (^^^If your brain made you do a rewind in order for you to sing that line, you might be old enough to understand how

    was a real game changer for me. You might also be pretty awesome.)

    Back in the dark ages before DVR and Netflix, families would all gather around their giant 19” television sets in order to watch what was known as a miniseries. Part television program/part movie these programs were shown in two-hour blocks over the course of how ever many days it took for them to play out. On Tuesday, December 3, 1985 the first episode of

    aired and I begged for a reprieve from my bedtime in order to watch every moment due to the fact that I was certain I had discovered my future husband . . . .

    (^^^In the show he suffered a leg injury in the war, in the book he lost an arm. Spoiled actors, unwilling to truly sacrifice their body for their art.)

    Being that I was a

    Yankee

    already being raised in a factory town, I had no desire to experience the life of the iron mill. Instead I set my sights on figuring out a way to become a proper Southern lady and live on a plantation one day. (Please note owning slaves and growing things were not of concern to my tiny little perverted mind. I just wanted to live in a big house and get to kiss Patrick Swayze whenever I felt like it.)

    I also wanted to marry Orry but actually be Constance because . . . .

    Well, just look at her. She was so beautiful. She was also Irish Catholic and I was Catholic and attended a church with an Irish-accented priest so I figured I could catch on real quick. Plus, her boobs looked real good in those dresses and at nine years old big boobs were something I really dreamed of being able to achieve one day (totally nailed that one too so yay me!).

    With the help of either my mother or my aunt being part of a 1980s wedding . . . .

    (^^^Picture borrowed from the interwebs, but we’re talking the EXACT same theme here.)

    I was able to dig out a beauty like this from the recesses of the closet . . . . .

    Which I proceeded to wear every time I went to my grandparents’ house and flitted about saying things like “I do

    ” (couldn’t quite get that Irish brogue so I turned Scarlett) to the point where I was kindly told to shut the hell up.

    I also learned how to slut-shame my first fictional character, but seriously . . . .

    She was a total slut and deserved it.

    Long story long, I became O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D So much so that when I discovered this monstrosity on my Grandpa’s bookshelf I decided to read it. The family probably should have recognized there was something not quite right about me when I chose an 800 page tome rather than

    but whatevs.

    Obviously it’s been

    years since I read this, but Good Golly Miss Molly it was even better than I remembered. For some reason I was thinking the timeframe was more compact (which would have made for some real snoozer bits) and due to my senility I was pleasantly surprised that this volume contained what I believed were books 1

    2 upon starting. As I said before, I can’t promise you’ll love this – or even find it worth your time. For me, though, this is one of the great American novels and it has something for everyone. Romance, war, family, friendship, it’s all there. Sadly enough, even though

    is set pre-Civil War, there are lessons that still ring true even today . . . .

    Finally,

    is my final book in the library’s Winter Reading Challenge proving to the porny librarian that this girl does not live on smut alone. NOW GIVE ME MY COFFEE MUG!!!!

  • Misfit

    North and South is the tale of two families, the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina. Orry Main and George Hazard meet in their first year at West Point Academy and begin a life-long friendship - although that friendship will be sorely tempted as the debate over the rights to own slaves threatens to split the country in two. After their military service in the Mexican wars end, George returns to run the family's iron works and raise his family, while Orry returns to the Main

    North and South is the tale of two families, the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina. Orry Main and George Hazard meet in their first year at West Point Academy and begin a life-long friendship - although that friendship will be sorely tempted as the debate over the rights to own slaves threatens to split the country in two. After their military service in the Mexican wars end, George returns to run the family's iron works and raise his family, while Orry returns to the Main plantation to pine over the woman forever beyond his reach, Madeline LaMott.

    "There was a clear rift in the Main household. A rift much like the one his own father said was slowly but inevitably dividing the country."

    I think most everyone has seen the mini-series at least once and knows the basics so I'm not going to rehash them all over again, nor spoil it for those who haven't. Jakes does have a tendency to stereo-type his characters, and you will definitely notice it here. George's sister Virgilia is obsessed to the point of madness to free all slaves (and of course Jakes must make her sexually frustrated), and the revenge minded Elkanah Bent is badder than bad can be (and of course Jakes gives him homosexual tendencies to make him even badder). There's also Orry's delightfully OTT wicked sister Ashton who can't keep her hands out of any man's pants, a woman everyone can love to hate (you will looooove the way she helped several cadets celebrate, and the trophys she took home with her).

    Despite the flaws, I still found this a compelling read as George and Orry battle to keep their friendship intact as the nation is on the brink of war. A door-stopper at 700+ pages in hardback, this really did very quickly and the pages literally flew.

  • Bettie

    Description:

    The mini series.

    01 - North and South - (summer 1842 - summer 1844)

    02 - North and South - (autumn 1844 - spring 1848)

    03 - North and South - (spring 1848 - summer 1854)

    04 - North and South - (summer 1854 -

    Description:

    The mini series.

    01 - North and South - (summer 1842 - summer 1844)

    02 - North and South - (autumn 1844 - spring 1848)

    03 - North and South - (spring 1848 - summer 1854)

    04 - North and South - (summer 1854 - autumn 1856)

    05 - North and South - (spring 1857 - November 1860)

    06 - North and South - (November 6, 1860 - April 1861)

  • Peter

    Every time I go to Boothbay Harbor in Maine I hit the porch of the building next to the library. They have hundreds of books there, and the recommended donation is ten cents per book. At that price, I can buy all sorts of stuff that I'd never buy otherwise!

    One of the books I picked up last time was John Jakes'

    . After I finished it, I found out that it was the first of a trilogy. So I picked up the rest of the books at the library (yay library!). All together they came to over 2,2

    Every time I go to Boothbay Harbor in Maine I hit the porch of the building next to the library. They have hundreds of books there, and the recommended donation is ten cents per book. At that price, I can buy all sorts of stuff that I'd never buy otherwise!

    One of the books I picked up last time was John Jakes'

    . After I finished it, I found out that it was the first of a trilogy. So I picked up the rest of the books at the library (yay library!). All together they came to over 2,200 pages.

    John Jakes has written science fiction as well as quite of few of those massive tree-killing multi-volume sagas telling the story of a family from the day it evolved from slime mold to the day its eldest son becomes King of the Universe (sorry, I just channeled a bit of National Lampoon's Newspaper Parody). He's not a bad SF writer, although most of his genre fiction came earlier in his career; I imagine that when he found out how much dough he could rake in with those historical megabooks, he found it difficult to write good old low-paying SF. But he wasn't a bad writer.

    The

    series wasn't bad. It killed a week or two of spare time. But I do have a couple of reactions:

    1.

    I'm not kidding. The novels are set before, during, and after the Civil War. There's some pretty rough stuff in them. When I reached the first scene of semi-torture, I found myself tightening up. Feeling almost panicked...almost disgusted. Why? Because I'd recently been exposed to the torture-porn book

    by the despicable David Wingrove. I feel as if Wingrove tried to

    me, mentally, and now there's part of me that fears that each new book, each new author, will do the same.

    John Jakes is an older-school author, of course, so he didn't get too graphic. And what torture there was, was less horrible because unlike the obviously mentally ill David Wingrove, Jakes didn't

    in the torture. I swear, Wingrove probably manually gratified himself over some of the filth that he wrote.

    Good heavens. I didn't realize I'd be getting so extreme in this review. I honestly do feel as if I've been abused...I'm enraged at the mere

    of

    .

    At one point, the worst bad guy in

    - a psycho - kills the wife of one of the protagonists. He cut her throat with a razor and uses her blood to write his name on her mirror, so her husband will know who did it. My reaction to reading that? "Thank god he didn't rape or torture her."

    what

    did to me; made me grateful when a sympathetic character is only MURDERED!

    2.

    . In the first book, he introduces a sympathetic character, Cooper Main; he's the older brother of one of the main protagonists. He's a southerner, but an extremely progressive and enlightened one. He opposes slavery, arguing bitterly with his father over the issue. His story is told in the second-person, but we get into his head enough to see that he is honestly sickened by slavery, and is highly intelligent and forward-looking.

    When the war starts he is saddened, but surprised by a feeling of love for his home state. He takes a role in the Confederacy's navel research department, but it is soon clear that he doesn't believe that victory is possible, and that the war is a tragic mistake. Eventually he marries, and has two children. Then his son is exploded and drowned while they are attempting to run a Yankee blockage.

    The character goes insane. He becomes hateful, obsessed with vengeance, spending day and night trying to build new weapons "to kill Yankees". He verbally and emotionally abuses his wife and daughter, and strikes his wife. This is all the more difficult to read because the story of how he met and courted his wife was quite a romantic story.

    This behavioral change is consistent with PTSD, of course. It seems a bit extreme, even so, but I'll allow for a bit of artistic license. But Jakes didn't leave it there. The character got worse and worse, until I had to wonder why the hell his wife didn't

    him. Jakes was bending the plot so far that it was in danger of breaking! And then the character himself had a total breakdown, went insane, and suddenly came back to his senses. He was his old self, but changed: he now believed that peace was all-important, and declared that he was leaving the war department and returning to his ancestral estate to help sow the seeds of peace and reconciliation. It's clear that equality for the soon-to-be former slaves is part of what he planned.

    But between the end of the second novel and the beginning of the third, the character apparently underwent a

    . No longer devoted to peace, he became a ranting, close-minded bigot and ally of the Ku Klux Klan - a pure villain. There was no explanation, no evolution of the character, just a sudden, massive change which Jakes pretended wasn't much of a change at all.

    It was like "BOOM! I had a bad bowel movement. Now I'm an evil Southerner again!". Totally ridiculous and unfair to the reader. I can only guess that Jakes felt he was running low on antagonists, so he had to quickly convert a sympathetic character into an antagonist.

    That was annoying AND clumsy, Mr. Jakes. Did you think the readers wouldn't notice?

    I can't really recommend the series. If I ever read it again, it could only be out of desperation. Say, if almost every other book I own somehow disappeared...and the TV was broken...and the internet was down...and the library was closed.

    Come to think of it, my computer would have to be

    as well. And my family would have had to lose the ability to speak or play boardgames. And the phone would need to be down as well.

    It wasn't an

    series, but it wasn't very good. John Jakes can (and

    ) done much better.

  • Nick T. Borrelli

    Too much of a soap opera read for me. I was under the impression that this was a pretty decent story that was tightly connected with the events of the Civil War as the backdrop. What I realized pretty quickly was that the story is the main focus and the Civil War part is just there for convenience. That's fine if the story is a compelling one or an interesting one. Unfortunately, I was disinterested in the fates of the Hazards and Mains fairly quickly and then I was left with nothing to hang my

    Too much of a soap opera read for me. I was under the impression that this was a pretty decent story that was tightly connected with the events of the Civil War as the backdrop. What I realized pretty quickly was that the story is the main focus and the Civil War part is just there for convenience. That's fine if the story is a compelling one or an interesting one. Unfortunately, I was disinterested in the fates of the Hazards and Mains fairly quickly and then I was left with nothing to hang my hat on. Needless to say, it wasn't what I was looking for and I will not be picking up books two and three.

  • Sotiris Karaiskos

    A very popular book but by reading it, having enough patience to get almost to the middle, I understand that it's just a mediocre literary soap opera, not for my tastes.

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