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The son
2013
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Summary

A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming- of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim

Spring, 1849. The first male child born in the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanches storms his homestead and brutally murders his mother and sister, taking him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and language, answering to a new name, becoming the chief's adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men--which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized nor fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong--a journey of adventure, tragedy, hardship, grit, and luck that reverberates in the lives of his progeny.

Intertwined with Eli's story are those of his son, Peter, a man who bears the emotional cost of his father's drive for power, and Jeannie, Eli's great-granddaughter, a woman who must fight hardened rivals to succeed in a man's world.

Philipp Meyer deftly explores how Eli's ruthlessness and steely pragmatism transform subsequent generations of McCulloughs. Love, honor, even children are sacrificed in the name of ambition as the family becomes one of the richest powers in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege. Yet, like all empires, the McCulloughs must eventually face the consequences of their choices. Harrowing, panoramic, and vividly drawn, The Son is a masterful achievement from a sublime young talent.

Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Inside Meyer's massive Texas saga is perhaps the best Indian captive story ever written: in 1849, 13-year-old Eli McCullough is abducted by Comanches after they've raped his mother and sister. Eli adapts. He learns the language and how to hunt and raid, and by age 16, he's a fierce warrior. In the process, the reader is treated to a fascinating portrait of the Comanches, including a Melville-like cataloging of all they did with the buffalo. Eventually, young Eli returns to the white world, but after an affair with a judge's wife worthy of Little Big Man, he's forced into the Texas Rangers. Later still, he fights for the South and steals a fortune from the North. He returns to South Texas to found an unimaginably large ranch, which he adds to by trumping up a massacre of a distinguished Mexican family, the Garcias. No scion measures up to Eli, unless it's Jeanne, his great-granddaughter, who ruthlessly presides over her oil and gas well into the twenty-first century. And, in a different way, Peter, Eli's son, as softhearted as his father was ruthless, makes his mark. He alone laments the massacre of the Garcias, but he's an indifferent rancher, and his love affair with the only surviving Garcia threatens to disembowel the McCullough empire. If you want to build a place like Texas, Meyer seems to say, only ruthlessness will suffice. In his many pages, Meyer takes time to be critical of Edna Ferber, but his tale is best compared to Giant. Lonesome Dove also come to mind, as well as the novels of Douglas C. Jones, Alan LeMay, and Benjamin Capps.--Mort, John Copyright 2010 Booklist
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