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Hardcover The Given Day Book

ISBN: 0688163181

ISBN13: 9780688163181

The Given Day

(Book #1 in the Coughlin Series)

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, bestselling author Dennis Lehane's extraordinary eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An Honest and Unhappy Portrayal of Boston and America in 1919

The Given Day marks a departure for Lehane. The Given Day is historical fiction that explores the lives of ordinary working stiffs of Boston and the US circa 1919. The story centers around a tough, smart, and handsome Boston Irish copper named Danny Coughlin and Luther Laurence, a gifted black man on the run. Coughlin struggles in his relationship with his powerful father and Boston police captain, Thomas Coughlin. Luther had fled to Boston, but wants nothing more than to return to his wife and child in Tulsa. Their stories eventually come together at the Coughlin household and their mutual interest in the Irish immigrant working girl and family servant. The characters can be a bit thin at times, their interactions sometimes predictable and maudlin, but Lehane excels in capturing the feel of the town and the times. Labor and ethnic strife boil below the surface. Workers toil in brutal conditions for low pay with no security. The Irish workers who have managed to get one rung up the ladder fear and hate not the bosses, but rather the new Italian immigrants (not to mention the few blacks in town). The political bosses even subject the Boston police rank-and-file to low pay, unsanitary working conditions, and extremely long hours. That summer of 1919 is known today as The Red Summer. In Boston, a potent mix of much-aggrieved workers, bomb-throwing anarchists, and a tyrannical police commissioner erupted in savage street violence during the Boston police strike. Lehane also sends Coughlin and Laurence each to take a journey of redemption. Coughlin repudiates his role as a spy in the police union and goes on to become its leader. Laurence flees Tulsa and his wife, but is taken in by leaders in the local NAACP whom he repays with courage and loyalty. Lehane manages to interweave a number of actual historical figures into his story without it feeling contrived. A young John Hoover of the federal Bureau of Investigation is as repellent on Lehane's pages as he was in real life. Calvin Coolidge, then Governor of Massachusetts, comes off as a duplicitous, back-stabber. The much lesser know Edwin Upton Curtis is the disastrously mean-spirited Boston police commissioner who manages to provoke the police strike just when civic and union leaders had reached terms. Perhaps most surprising is Lehane's use of Babe Ruth, who is featured to good effect in several chapters. Early in the book Ruth, then with the Red Sox, and his teammates get into an unlikely pickup game against a team of black players, including Luther Laurence. The game begins as an honest and vigorous athletic contest, but when the blacks start to win, the whites start to cheat and things turn nasty. Lehane gives us a painfully honest portrayal of the bitter racial, ethnic, and class divisions that marred America in 1919 and he wraps it up in two engaging family stories. The best historical fiction leads the reader to search out the story in more detail and Lehane particularly succeeds with

A great historical novel

I have always been an amateur history buff and, as a life long resident of Boston, I have been looking forward to Lehane's take on the events leading up to the Boston Police strike of 1919. I am not disappointed. Over the years, I have read about the great molasses flood, the influenza epidemic, and the strike itself. Lehane weaves these stories and more into his novel and brings them to life. His picture of Boston in the year following WWI is eye opening. The racial divides, the haves and have nots, the Brahmins and the ethnics, Lehane brings it all to the fore. The Coughlin family of South Boston are the protaganists of the novel. Captain Coughlin of the Boston Police Department is the all knowing, patriarch of the family. Stern, corrupt, violent, and controlling. The captain is trumped in bad behavior only by his best friend, Lieutenant McKenna, the personification of racial hatred and depravity. The politicians run the gamut from conniving back stabbers, to ignorant, to enlightened. This is a fun book to read and I, literally, could not put it down.

Brilliantly crafted tale of the 1919 Boston Police Strike

The Given Day was one of the most interesting and complex books I've read in a long time. Most central to this book is the story of Danny Coughlin, a Boston police officer caught before, during, and after the famous 1919 Boston Police Strike. Alongside him are a vast array of characters, from dirty politicians to his two closest confidants who hide a sordid past, and everything in between. Also just as important to the novel is Luther Lawrence, a black man on the lam from Tulsa, Oklahoma after being blind sided by being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The lives of Luther and Danny intertwine to create a captivating story of friendship that defies race, economic status, and social norms. Luther is perhaps the warmest character in the book, and he comes to confront his past with honor and courage when a lesser man would have run. The final integral character is Nora, a young lass that's run away from her hopeless life in Ireland. Her past catches up with her just as she almost finds happiness, nearly destroying her life once again. The lives of these three characters weave their stories within the lives of police officers, co-workers, family members, neighbors, politicians, and anarchists to create a vivid portrait of so many historical events that occurred in 1919 including the mind boggling Molasses flood, the May Day riots, and ultimately culminating in the city-wide Police strike that brought the city to a grinding halt with out of control crime and riots everywhere. These three characters manage to extricate themselves from the situation pretty much intact, but the cost is high, almost too high at times. This is an epic novel, which should be of great interest to fans of historical fiction, Boston history, early NAACP history, as well as the labor movement. Although there was little sunshine in this long 700 page novel, if you can tolerate that, you will probably come away with a greater appreciation for this brilliantly crafted tale of this famous time period in the history of Boston.

The Best Book I've Read In A Long Time

All readers should have the opportunity to give one book more than the standard five stars. The Given Day would be my choice. The writing in this book is excellent and the research is obviously extensive. I would deem this to be the best book I've read in a long time. This is the story of Danny Coughlin, a Boston police officer, and Luther Laurence, a black man who is running from some trouble in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These are characters you will come to know and care about a great deal. The story begins in 1918 in Boston, a time of unrest with the end of the First World War and the influenza plague. Police worked long hours for very little pay in terrible conditions. The reaction to Bolsheviks and anarchists, who were labeled terrorists, is relevant to today's world. Dennis Lehane paints a picture of racism, hatred and distrust. Mr. Lehane has worked historic people, such as Babe Ruth and Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, into the story. The stories about Babe Ruth sparked many interesting conversations as half my family are Boston Red Sox fans and the other half New York Yankee fans. I learned quite a bit of history from reading The Given Day. It is so captivating that I wanted to find corroborating material on the Internet as I was reading. For instance, I had never read about the East St. Louis race riots. This is a stay up late, can't put down book. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history.

A Masterpiece!

Once it is known that 'The new Lehane' is in bookstores should be enough to make booklovers rush out to buy a copy. Their money will be well spent, as The Given Day is a work of art. It is much more than just an excellent book, it is fine literature. The Given Day, which takes place primarily in Boston just after WWI, is an epic story of family greed, love, power, hardship, lust, hope and politics. It tells the story of two families -- one white, one black -- swept up in the maelstrom of revolutionaries, anarchists, immigrants, ward bosses, Brahmnins, the Boston police department and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. As interesting and powerful as the plot is, Lehane's strongest accomplishment is the cast of unforgettable, true-to-life characters he has created. You'll meet beat-cop Danny Coughlin, Boston Police Department royalty and the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains. Luther Laurence, a black man on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss who works for the Coughlin family. Nora, the Irish immigrant who was taken in by the Coughlins and is the love of Danny's life, as well as many other very credible multidimensional characters. Lehane does such an excellent job in describing these characters that I felt I was right there alongside them feeling all of their joys and sorrows. In addition, Lehane expertly weaves into the story many real-life influential people of the era -- including Babe Ruth, Eugene O'Neill, leftist Jack Reed, NAACP founder W.E.B. Du Bois, Mitchell Palmer, Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge and an ambitious young justice department lawyer named John Hoover. The Given Day is over 700 pages of reading pleasure and a book that I most highly recommend to you. It is a masterpiece of historical fiction!
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