The Given Day
By Dennis Lehane
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780688163181, 720pp.)
Publication Date: September 23, 2008
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Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future. Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters more richly drawn than any Lehane has ever created, The Given Day tells the story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife.
Here, too, are some of the most influential figures of the era—Babe Ruth; Eugene O'Neill; leftist activist Jack Reed; NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois; Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson's ruthless Red-chasing attorney general; cunning Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge; and an ambitious young Department of Justice lawyer named John Hoover.
Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time—including the Spanish Influenza pandemic—and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence and irrepressible exuberance of a country at war with, and in the thrall of, itself. As Danny, Luther, and those around them struggle to define themselves in increasingly turbulent times, they gradually find family in one another and, together, ride a rising storm of hardship, deprivation, and hope that will change all their lives.
Dennis Lehane is the author of nine previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile, as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.
- The Given Day transports readers to 1918 Boston and touches on the lives of two families—one black, one white—as they are swept up in the maelstrom of history. How are their experiences similar? How are they different?
“[Lehane] deserves to be included among the most interesting and accomplished American novelists of any genre or category. . . . A powerful moment in history, and Lehane makes the most of it. . . . Heartfelt and moving.”
-Washington Post Book World
“This may be Lehane’s finest work. . . . But The Given Day is more than a history lesson. . . . Lehane captures the essence of being American in a fast-changing society that eerily reflects our own.”
“The Given Day is a vast historical novel. . . . Spectacular details. . . . Finely thought-out. . . . . Many stunningly managed scenes.”
“Steeped in history but wearing its research lightly, The Given Day is a meaty, rich, old-fashioned and satisfying tale. I’d call it Lehane’s masterpiece.”
“Superbly written, meticulously researched. . . . A thoughtful, provocative exploration of race, fame, power, and political corruption in American culture. . . . The Given Day places [Lehane] in the first rank of modern American novelists.”
“Gut-wrenching force. . . . A majestic, fiery epic. . . . The Given Day is a huge, impassioned, intensively researched book that brings history alive.”
-New York Times
“[A] work of admirable ambition and scope. . . . Lehane is as much like contemporaries George Pelecanos and Richard Price as he is like the bygone Boston-based John P. Marquand, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
“One of the fall’s biggest books—and not just because it’s 704 pages. It’s Lehane’s most ambitious and literary work.”
“A splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction. . . . A vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit. In short, this nail-biter carries serious moral gravity.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Brilliantly constructed. . . . Like E. L. Doctorow in Ragtime, Lehane captures the sense of a country coming of age, vividly dramatizing how the conflicting emotions and tortured dreams that drive individual human lives also send a nation roiling forward.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Lehane’s first historical novel is a clear winner. . . . As good as it gets.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“A historical epic that is easily the most ambitious work of Dennis Lehane’s career. . . . THE GIVEN DAY aspires to be nothing less than the Great American Novel. . . . If Lehane was ever a singles hitter, now he’s swinging for the fences.”
“The problem falls to readers to find something—anything—that doesn’t pale in comparison once they’ve closed the covers on this 720-page masterpiece. Quite simply, THE GIVEN DAY is about as close to the great American novel as we’re likely to read until … well, until Lehane writes another.”
“If you’re swinging for the fences, it only makes sense that your novel begin with a lengthy, and very tasty, story about Babe Ruth. That Dennis Lehane sustains that level of play . . . is what gives THE GIVEN DAY a kind of greatness. . . . Lehane dazzles.”
“Here’s one way to get people excited about the nation’s past: Get Dennis Lehane to write the history books. . . . A meticulously researched tale that in the hands of this master storyteller jumps right off the page and hollers.”
-St. Petersburg Times
“As much a thriller as any of Lehane’s previous work. Even beyond the historical events, THE GIVEN DAY qualifies as a sprawling, sweeping epic. . . . Lehane’s masterful packing and precise prose make the story speed by.”
“Packed with dramatic turning points. . . . Lehane has tried to capture the zeitgeist of an era even nuttier and more tumultuous than our own, and succeeded.””
“A gripping historical novel. . . . Infused with the same dark drama that set apart his earlier books.”
“Rollicking, brawling, gritty, political, and always completely absorbing, THE GIVEN DAY is a rich and satisfying epic. Readers, get ready to feast. This is a big book you won’t want to put down.”
-Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster, A Prayer for the Dying, and Snow Angels
“A brawling, brawny, muscular epic—exactly what great mainstream novels used to be.”