• Days Without End

  • A Novel
  • By: Sebastian Barry
  • Narrated by: Aidan Kelly
  • Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (2,122 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Sebastian Barry, a two-time finalist for the Man Booker Prize, comes a powerful and unforgettable novel chronicling a young Irish immigrant's army years in the Indian wars and the American Civil War.

Thomas McNulty, having fled the Great Famine in Ireland and now barely 17 years old, signs up for the US Army in the 1850s and with his brother in arms, John Cole, goes to fight in the Indian Wars - against the Sioux and the Yurok - and, ultimately, in the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, they find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.

Moving from the plains of Wyoming to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry's latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. An intensely poignant story of two men and the makeshift family they create with a young Sioux girl, Winona, Days Without End is a fresh and haunting portrait of the most fateful years in American history and is a novel never to be forgotten.

©2017 Sebastian Barry (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"If an audiobook that is gorgeously written, tells a heart-thumping story, and is performed with flawless taste and authority is a cause for celebration, chill the champagne.... If the setting sounds familiar, the story is not, and you will not soon forget it, thanks to dazzling language and to a supple and powerful performance by [narrator Aidan] Kelly, whose Thomas is somehow both pragmatic and full of wonder." ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Days Without End

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

This is about love of two men

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I read a bunch of reviews before buying this book and no one talked about the elephant in the room, this is about two men who fall in love in the old west. They meet as teens, fall in love and stay together for years. It is also about the American Armies fight and massacre of Native Americans.

For some reason, other people did not mention these two foundational points of this book. If you don't care for this subject matter, don't buy this book.

On the other hand, the book is well written and performed. It is a gap piece of historical fiction touching on some interesting times in the western mining days, Indian Wars and Civil War.

398 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Stunning, disturbing, amazing

If you could sum up Days Without End in three words, what would they be?

Unique, explicit, poetic

Who was your favorite character and why?

The narrator, without a doubt. A poor boy who had character, insight and resolve.

Which scene was your favorite?

The beginning.. when the boys became girl dancers: humorous, sweet, yet innocent.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I had difficult with the scene in the fort when the Oglala chief came to the soldiers to
retrieve his daughter after the village had been slaughtered by the soldiers. I had to stop listening for a while.. very realistic and tragic.

Any additional comments?

The violence was constant, well portrayed but it put me off.
This is an amazing book, but the historically accurate accounts of the wars really
tore my heart. I'm taking a break from it for a while.

104 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

good book but....

the performance makes this book better. it is perfect. the book is ok, love the writing style, a little less impressed with glossing over, what I am sure, major life decisions and the struggles of coming to terms with that. in 2017 people struggle for years before they can accept who they are, or should have been, and the character in this book treats it like "well, I put my red shirt on today, but I wanted to wear the blue one."

aside from that it's a good story well written and again the performance is great. it's extremely well read.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lyrical, poignant, brutally violent historical.

This is one of my top favorite listens in a very very long time. I can't write reviews well enough to convey what a treasure this book is.
~~~mild spoiler~~~~ I feel sad for those listeners who turned this book away simply because it was the story of two men who loved each other and whose love perservered through good times and brutally horrific acts of war.
This is a beautifully written, at times even poetic historical story about Thomas McNulty and John Cole. They meet as young boys, and stay together, make a life together while living through the wild west wars, Indian wars, the Civil war. Enduring famine, brutal winters, killing hot summers, lack of food, lack of water. You name it, these 2 men experienced it.
The description of some of the acts of war were disturbing, but written in a way that felt essentially realistic for the times. It was historically acurate in chilling cruel detail.
And yet somehow Thomas and John are able to live through all the terrible times and remain men who have enough heart and soul to rescue an orphaned indian girl, raise her as their own, and make a home together.
I can see why this novel won awards. I enjoyed it very much, was never bored, and was sad when the story came to an end.
Aiden Kelly has the perfect voice as the narrator. His narration was just wonderful. The story is told entirely from Thomas's point of view. The Irish accent a pleasing bonus.

51 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bliss

The writing and narration make for pure bliss. The joyful, faithful, never doubting love of two men, the girl who makes them a family- the beauty and simplicity of acceptance of hardship, it gives me hope at this tough place in time. We shall get through it all if we remember that others have gone before us and others will come after.
Let us find joy in our lives, no matter what.
This book has touched my core.

103 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Unexpectedly Awesome

I am fairly new to Audible books and this is just the kind of book I would never think to pick up. What a great surprise to have enjoyed this version SO much!

The story, language, and wonderful narration fully transported me to an incredible period in American history. Many times I found myself stunned by the beauty of the wording and descriptions.

My daily commute was much improved listening to the book. I reflected quite alot on the human condition: suffering, hardships, injustice, determination, luck, joy in little things and love. Wholeheartedly recommend.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Worthy Summer Suprise

This book falls into the category of historical fiction. Chronologically, it covers a. Of time from the early Indian Wars of the 1850s through the Civil War and touches on an episode in the late Indian wars in the 1860s and 70s.

The two periods of Indian Wars as well as the Civil War are brutal times in American history. That brutality is represented in this story. It is not the focus of the story, but just part of the background as the central characters journey through their life.

FYI....The two men who are the central characters in the story fall in love with each other.

Let me take a moment and address those reviewers who complained that the story wasn't marked as a gay story.

I don't think that it matters that it wasn't so categorized. I think one can make the case that there's a difference between a gay romance and a literary novel in which the two male central characters happen to be in love.

Now that that is out of the way, let me address the quality of the audio book.

This was a spur-of-the-moment purchase which I knew nothing about about. So I was pleasantly surprised as the story unfolded through my earbuds.

It is a thoughtful and worthy take on people brushing up against important historical events seminal to the growth of this country. It is also a story about being committed to family even if said family is not blood relation.

My one wished-for improvement would be that the story be about an hour longer and that time spent by the author writing more detail about the actions that take place in the narrative. I think the narrative thrust of the story is very compelling. Parts of it are a bit too scant, stopping me from being totally in awe of the effort.

I also should say that the story is written with a good deal of wit. Fortunately, the central character Thomas is given the ability to lighten what otherwise would be totally bleak observations with a very healthy bit of dark humor.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating story of a hard life

This novel is so rich in early American history and an Irish immigrant's tale. Thomas is a kind man who fights bravely and loves deeply.
Mr. Kelly's Irish accent is perfect for this audiobook. I'm looking forward to listening to more of Sebastian Barry's books!

47 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • LK
  • 03-09-17

Can't say enough good things

Please listen to or read this book. It was so well done and moving. Aidan Kelly is brilliant as Thomas and you'll fall in love with all the characters and their incredible story. Love, tragedy, war, injustice, triumph, humor... this book has it all. Brilliant and top notch.

44 people found this helpful

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One of the best - story and performance.

Spectacular and brutal Civil War-era drama with vivid voice and characters, in a tightly woven plot. This one will stay with me.

40 people found this helpful