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 familiesone black, one whiteswept 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 eraBabe 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 timeincluding the Spanish Influenza pandemicand 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.
This is a big, important work of literary fiction, and it is incredibly well done. There is much that is thought-provoking, and Lehane makes his views on class warfare known. The author weaves his fictional characters, real people and events into a story that captures the reader's attention from the onset and never lets up. It is perhaps the best American novel I have read this year. (Reviewed by Diane La Rue).
The New York Times Book Review - John Freeman
Not only is Lehane working on a larger historical scale, he has turned up the volume on his prose, setting a tone of epic exaggeration.
The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
Lehane has done something brave and ambitious: He has written a historical novel that unquestionably is his grab for the brass ring, an effort to establish his credentials in literary as well as commercial terms.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin The Given Day is a huge, impassioned, intensively researched book that brings history alive by grounding the present in the lessons of the past.
Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel is as good as it gets. Enthusiastically recommended for all fiction collections.
Starred Review. [An] engrossing epic. . . . A vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth Not bad...have to have time to read :) A little long, but great historical fiction. Story was about a family who had policemen in the family line and the Boston Police Strike took place during the book...murder too and some mysteries.
Rated of 5
by Lupoman The Given Day After finally finishing this book, I have to say that the author is very close to becoming one of my favorite authors. His writing draws one in, and there's no sleep until you're finished.
"The Given Day" is well written, and the characters have... Read More
Rated of 5
by SDC Best Book of 2008 I've not read a historical novel this good since Ragtime. Lehane has a definite Doctorow feel to his writing - carefully intermingling uncommon characters - both real and imaginary - into a real page-turner. Highly recommended.
The Great Molasses Flood Prohibition was about to become the law of the land in 1919, and the Purity
Distilling Company wanted to make a last batch before their product became
illegal. They had a huge tank situated in the North End of Boston, which was
densely populated with Italian immigrants.
The company poured warm molasses into the tank on top of a half full tank of
cold molasses. The chemical reaction formed by this caused gaseous vapors which
reacted with the weakened walls of the tank, and an explosion occurred.
Witnesses described a tidal wave of over two million gallons of molasses that
cascaded into the streets of the North End at an estimated 35 mph. An elevated
train bridge and a firehouse were destroyed. Twenty-one people died, over 150
people were injured.
The odor of molasses lingered in the neighborhood for years, and some people
Simultaneously offering the absorbing reading experience of a cant-put-it-down thriller and the perception-altering resonance of a story whose reverberations continue even today, American Lightning is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...