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....

DownloadRead Online
Title:North and South
Author:John Jakes
Rating:
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

    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.

  • Drush76

    During the first twenty years or so following his graduation from college, John Jakes spent that period writing many short stories and novels that featured science fiction, fantasy, westerns and the occasional historical fiction. Then he achieved literary success in the 1970s with the publication of The Kent Family Chronicles, a series of eight novels about a family between 1770 and 1890. Three years after the publication of that series' last novel, Jakes embarked upon another literary series

    During the first twenty years or so following his graduation from college, John Jakes spent that period writing many short stories and novels that featured science fiction, fantasy, westerns and the occasional historical fiction. Then he achieved literary success in the 1970s with the publication of The Kent Family Chronicles, a series of eight novels about a family between 1770 and 1890. Three years after the publication of that series' last novel, Jakes embarked upon another literary series called the North and South Trilogy..

    The North and South Trilogy was a literary series that depicted the lives of two wealthy families - the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina - during the years before, during and immediately after the U.S. Civil War. The first novel, 1982's "NORTH AND SOUTH", began with the establishment of the two families when their founders immigrated to the New World in the late 17th century. The novel jumped a century-and-a-half later when George Hazard, son of a wealthy Pennsylvania iron industrialist; and Orry Main, the son of a South Carolina rice planter, Orry Main; met as cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1842. The pair immediately become fast friends as they endure the brutal hazing of an older sadistic cadet from Ohio named Elkhannah Bent, and action during the Mexican-American War. The friendship between the two young men eventually form a connection between their respective families as they become acquainted with each other during family trips to the Newport summer resorts and Mont Royal, the Mains' rice plantation in the South Carolina low country. The novel also featured two characters who are not members of the two families - Bent and Grady, a fugitive slave who used to be owned by Orry's future brother-in-law.

    Both the Hazards and the Mains find love, marriage or both throughout the novel. George meets and marries Constance Flynn, the daughter of an Irish immigrant attorney. Orry falls in love at first sight with Madeline Fabray, the daughter of a New Orleans sugar factor. Unfortunately for Orry . . . and Madeline, they meet and fall in love as she is preparing to marry the Mains' neighbor, the brutal and venal Justin LaMotte. George's younger brother, William (Billy) Hazard II falls in love . . . first with Orry's sister Ashton Main and later, with the youngest Main sibling, Brett. And George's older sister Virgilia, an ardent abolitionist, meets and fall in love with Grady, who turned out to be the slave of James Huntoon, Ashton's future husband.

    More importantly, "NORTH AND SOUTH" depicted those last nineteen years of American history before the outbreak of the Civil War. Through the eyes of George, Orry and their families; John Jakes conveyed readers through life at the Military Academy at West Point - first through George and Orry's eyes during the 1840s and later, through Billy and Charles' eyes during the 1850s. Although John Jakes portrayed George and Orry's West Point experiences with more detail, the author's portrayal of the Military Academy during the following decade proved to be more interesting, as he conveyed how Billy Hazard and Charles Main struggled to maintain their own friendship amidst the growing sectional conflict that threatened to overwhelm the Academy and the nation.

    What I found even more interesting is that the novel began during the 1840s - a decade in which the abolitionist movement began to become increasingly popular in many parts of North. Another significant event had also occurred during this decade - namely the Mexican-American War. Because of the war, George met his future wife, Constance Flynn, during a stop at Corpus Cristi, Texas; on the way to the battlefields in Mexico. The war also featured a backdrop for George and Orry's last dangerous encounter with Elkhannah Bent in the novel - during the Battle of Churabusco. The most important aspect of the Mexican-American War is that it left the United States with more Western territory to settle - including California. Although both the North and the South had been in conflict over the slavery issue for several decades, the addition of the new Western lands, along with the rise of the Republican Party in the following decade, heightened the conflict between the two regions. In fact, the conflict over whether or not slavery would be practiced in the new Western territories helped lead to the creation of the Republican Party and eventually, the election of Abraham Lincoln as the country's 16th president.

    For some reason, many of today's readers seem very critical of long and thick novels. They are even more critical of a historical novel filled with a great deal of melodrama. As I have stated in my review of Jakes' 1984 novel, "LOVE AND WAR", I simply do not understand this criticism. "NORTH AND SOUTH" is a novel . . . a work of fiction. It is not a history book. Fans either complained over the presence of melodrama in Jakes' story or they complained over the abundance of historical facts that served as the novel's backstory. Like I said . . . I do not understand this mentality. Even if many literary critics have been unwilling to admit this, a great deal of melodrama have been featured in the novels of literary giants. And novelists like John Jakes have proven that one can create a first-rate novel with a solid balance of both melodrama and history.

    Since "NORTH AND SOUTH" told the story of two families during the last two decades leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War, it only seemed natural that the topic of slavery would dominate its narrative. I can recall a YOUTUBE vlogger complaining that Jakes seemed a bit too "in the middle of the road" about slavery. This only seemed natural, considering the story's two main characters came from different parts of the country. Following their stints in the Army, George took over the management of his family's Pennsylvania steel manufacturing company and Orry took control of his family's rice plantation in South Carolina that included slaves. It was only natural that the novel's narrative would be about two men and their families trying to main their close friendship during the conflict over slavery.

    Being slave owners, it only seemed natural that the Mains would see nothing wrong with slavery. Only three members of the family felt differently. Orry's older brother Cooper viewed slavery as a moral wrong and refused to own slaves himself when he assumed control of a shipping line acquired from a man who had borrowed money from his father. However, Cooper seemed more concerned with how emancipation would impact his family and state's economic situation than with the freedom of enslaved African-Americans. This would explain why he supported gradual emancipation. Charles Main, Orry and Cooper's younger cousin, also felt that slavery was wrong. But he was too young to understand that slavery could end and merely tolerated the institution . . . until he became a cadet at West Point. And Cooper's wife, Judith Stafford, a former teacher who had been schooled in New England, believed in the absolute abolition of slavery and civil rights for non-whites. Yet, she rarely expressed her views to others than her husband. Despite being Northerners, the Hazard family did not begin the saga as abolitionists - with three exceptions. George never gave slavery a thought until his first visit to the Mains' plantation, Mont Royal, following his and Orry's graduation from West Point in 1846. This visit led him to become an abolitionist, his politics remained moderate like Cooper Main's. Neither older brother Stanley, younger brother Billy, sister-in-law Isobel Truscott or his mother Maude seemed interested in abolitionism. This was not surprising since the Hazards struck me as a moderately conservative family. Only George's wife Constance and his sister Virgilia were fervent abolitionists. Virgilia's abolitionism was viewed as "fanatical" due to her unwillingness to hide her hatred of slavery and slave owners beneath a veneer of politeness.

    I noticed that in the novel's second half, political moderates like George, Orry and Cooper seemed willing to blame political hardliners like Virgilia and rigid pro-slavery like Ashton Main and her husband, James Huntoon for the eventual outbreak of the Civil War. I could understand their aversion toward the country being driven toward war. And I realized they believed that compromise (namely the sacrifice of any future freedom for the slaves) could have prevented the outbreak of war. But unlike that YOUTUBE vlogger, I realized that Jakes was simply conveying the mindset of characters like George and Orry to his readers. If he truly believed George, Orry and Cooper's moderate mindset regarding politics and slavery, why bother creating characters like Judith Main or Constance Hazard?

    Another complaint that YOUTUBE blogger had brought up was Jakes' lack of any slave characters. I believe her complaint was at best, minimal. Unlike the two novels that "NORTH AND SOUTH", 1984's "LOVE AND WAR" and 1987's "HEAVEN AND HELL", I must admit that the 1982 novel featured very little in-depth characterizations of either slaves or Northern blacks. There were occasional black characters that received brief viewpoints. But "NORTH AND SOUTH" only portrayed one non-white character with any real depth - namely Grady, James Huntoon's slave, who eventually became a fugitive and later, Virgilia Hazard's lover and common-law husband. For a novel in which the topic of slavery dominated the narrative, I found this rather odd and lacking.

    I must also admit I do have some issues with Jakes' portrayals of his villains. Although I believe he did an excellent of delving into psyches, many of them were in danger of being portrayed as one-note personalities. And his worst villains seemed to be wrapped in a great deal of sexual perversion, violence or both. This especially seemed to be the case for characters like Elkhanah Bent, Ashton Main Huntoon, Justin LaMotte and the latter's nephew Forbes LaMotte. Bent is portrayed as a man with a sexual preference for anyone who happened to attract his attention - whether that person is a man, woman or child. Ashton is portrayed as a promiscuous female since the age of 14 . . . or younger. In fact, one sequence featured a visit made to West Point by her, Orry and their younger sister Brett in which Ashton ended up having sex with a handful of Northern-born cadets. Frankly, I thought Jakes had went too far in this sequence and he seemed to portray Ashton's highly sexual nature as something ugly and perverse. He also did the same for Virgilia Hazard, whose emotions regarding abolition and black men in general seemed to ring with excessive sexuality. On the other end of the scale; Jakes portrayed other villainous characters like George's sister-in-law, Isobel, as sexually frigid; and Orry's brother-in-law James Huntoon as sexually inadequate.

    By the way, why did he portray Virgilia Hazard as a borderline villain? Many fans of his saga viewed her as a villain due to a general dislike of Southerners. Yet, the novel made it clear that Virgilia also harbored a strong dislike to those Northerners who opposed slavery, regardless if they were fellow citizens of Lehigh Station or members of her own family. I have to be honest. I still find it difficult to view Virgilia as a villain. As a character, she was on the right side of history - not only in her support of abolition and civil rights for non-white, but also in her embrace of interracial relationships. I found it difficult to condemn her for her beliefs.

    One could condemn Virgilia for her willingness to embrace violence to end slavery. But honestly, this willingness only exposed the other characters' hypocrisy. In other words, many Americans like the other Hazards and the Mains continued to celebrate the country's use of violence to win independence from Great Britain during the late 18th century. Yet, they condemned Virgilia and other abolitionists like her for supporting the use of violence to end slavery. Even to this day, there are historians who continue to express this wish or desire that slavery had never ended via a four-year war, yet see nothing wrong in celebrating the violence of the American Revolution. I do not know if Jakes had intended this, but in another sequence in the novel, Virgilia had confronted Orry and Brett Main during the pair's visit to Lehigh Station in 1859. During a quarrel between her and Orry, Virgilia pointed out that it was only natural for those who participated in evil would deny it. And she was right. No matter how decent most members of the Main family were, they participated in evil - namely slavery - for their benefit. And they saw nothing wrong with this. Northern businessmen like George also profited from their business connections to the South. In the novel, George had agreed to help finance Cooper Main's new vessel that would ship slave-produced cotton to Europe. No matter how "fanatical", violent or confrontational people like Virgilia were . . . they were right about the country's ties to slavery.

    Although I love the novel overall, there were segments that I really enjoyed. Among them were George's first visit to Mont Royal, Constance's early clashes with sister-in-law Isobel, the Hazard and Main families' first summer vacation at Newport, the Hazards' 1851 visit to Mont Royal, the Mains' visit to West Point, Ashton and Forbes' attempt to murder Billy following his wedding to Brett, and the whole Harper's Ferry segment beginning with Orry and Brett's visit to Lehigh Station and ending with their experiences during the Harper's Ferry raid. But if I had to choose the segments that I truly enjoyed, they were - the train crash that the Hazard family experienced on their way to Newport; Charles' conflict with Elkhanah Bent in Texas during the late 1850s; and especially Billy's experiences during the crisis at both Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter.

    I will admit that "NORTH AND SOUTH" has its flaws - especially the one-dimensional portrayals of its villains and a minimum of African-American characters in a story dominated by the topic of slavery. But after so many years, I still love the novel. I think it is one of the best literary depictions of life in the United States during the last two decades before the Civil War. And to that YOUTUBE vlogger who believed that Jakes' view on slavery may seemed a bit too conservative and suspect, I should point out that he ended the novel with a partial quote from Virginia-born Founding Father George Mason, who condemned the entire country for its participation in slavery . . . and expressed a prophecy that it will pay the consequences for that participation. Which it did.

  • 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

    ,

    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, ancestry going back to pre-Revolution days. And 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • Corey

    John Jakes never ceases to amaze me! I really enjoyed The Kent Family Chronicles so I just had to pick up North and South, and once again I didn't come back disappointed!

    North and South is the intro to the Civil War Trilogy, with Jakes telling the story of 2 families, the Main Family of South Carolina, and the Hazards of Pennsylvania. Orry Main and George Hazard befriend each other when both happen to be going to West Point in the 1840s to serve in the American Mexican War.

    From then on the Main

    John Jakes never ceases to amaze me! I really enjoyed The Kent Family Chronicles so I just had to pick up North and South, and once again I didn't come back disappointed!

    North and South is the intro to the Civil War Trilogy, with Jakes telling the story of 2 families, the Main Family of South Carolina, and the Hazards of Pennsylvania. Orry Main and George Hazard befriend each other when both happen to be going to West Point in the 1840s to serve in the American Mexican War.

    From then on the Main and Hazard families become closer, but as time goes on their relationships are tested, with the talks of slavery and politics, and unknown to them at the time, the approach of the Civil War.

    Excellent character development and setting, another epic Historical Soap Opera, Jakes creates unique characters, some you just love, and others you absolutely hate!

    Looking forward to reading the rest of the Trilogy very soon!!

  • 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 “

    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!!!!

  • 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

    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.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.