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Publisher's Summary

Two strangers, young men from Pennsylvania and South Carolina, meet on the way to West Point.... Thus begins this brilliant novel of antebellum America, spanning three generations and chronicling the lives and loves of two great family dynasties. The Hazards and the Mains are brought together in bonds of friendship and affection that neither jealousy nor violence can shatter - until a storm of events sunders the nation and brings the cataclysm of war!

©1982 John Jakes (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about North and South

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • 2 Stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 9S
  • 01-12-13

Captivating novel of the Civil War

North and South is the first novel in John Jakes' trilogy of the American Civil War. This first book tells the story of the close friendship the develops between George Hazard Of Pennsylvania and Orry Main of South Carolina. Hazard belongs to the industrial class of the mighty North, while Main is a member of the Southern caste of slave holding plantation owners. The backgrounds of these two men are fraught with seemingly insurmountable differences. Despite this, Main and Hazard become close friends during their time at West Point, as well during their service in the Mexican American war. After that conflict the two friends are followed throughout the tumultuous 1850's, right up to the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War. The tragedy of the Civil War is magnified as these two intimate companions choose sides, wish each other luck, and go to war.

Over the last 25 years I have read this trilogy three times and I have been waiting very impatiently for an audio version. And it has arrived in all it's glory. Having the superb Grover Gardner narrate is simply icing on a three layer cake.

84 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Narration is exceptional!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

YES! I enjoyed these books when they were published. I wanted to re-read them and this was an enjoyable way to review the story. Grover Gardner is exceptional. His voice is smooth and melodious. I really enjoyed this again.

What did you like best about this story?

Remembering the characters.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

Superb! I love the books he narrates.

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

Passions regarding slavery.

Any additional comments?

The story is very long and will require some adjustments to fit in the time. You will not want to get only an hour in each day. Look over your schedule and start this when you can commit some time because it will draw you in, sleep will be pushed to the bottom of the list so you can listen more.

31 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting Concept

Would you try another book from John Jakes and/or Grover Gardner?

I don't know if I would try another John Jakes book, but I would give Grover Gardner another try.

Would you recommend North and South to your friends? Why or why not?

I would probably not recommend North and South because it was kind of dry. I'm a fan of historical fiction, but this was kind of shallow and repetitive. Everyone is very one dimensional.

What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I don't know how much a narrator could pull out of this book. He did the northern and southern accents, unfortunately the characters really had nothing to say.

Was North and South worth the listening time?

It was something to fill freeway time. It is better than AM radio.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

The Undigestible Lump of Slavery

During Jakes research, he read Bruce Catton's civil war studies and came across the above quote and referenced it in his afterword. I was struck by its unusually apt descriptiveness and therefore used it as my review headline.

There are many wonderful things about this book: it's well researched, richly panoramic, excellently narrated and beautifully written. It is very easy to feel you know the main characters as they grow and experience life. They're well rounded and quite human in all aspects. The growing political and civil unrest in this period of our country's development is described such that you also get a quite tasty history lesson along with the characters' storylines.

There are however several characters (4 of whom are primary to the story) that are truly sadistic bullies. Their sheer meanness is predominantly against other whites and not aimed at the slave population. I came to believe that this was true because the slaves were "property" and therefore not seen as a logical target of enmity. These cruel characters were so despicable that I questioned why they were necessary to the overall story arc. I would have understood 1 or 2 ... but 4?? Therefore my 4 star rating for the story.

I will get the other 2 books of this trilogy immediately. The series is well worth your time and credits.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining pop history

I enjoyed this pre-Civil War novel. The stories of the characters are interwoven well with the history of the time. It took me a while before I connected with the characters, but the novel grew on me as it progressed. Love, rivalry, revenge, and slavery are big parts of this story of connections between people in the North and the South. Two families are bound by a deep friendship between West Point cadets, and the drama follows from there. The characters are a little black and white, with the bad people truly despicable and the good people almost all good. But Jakes did successfully get me rooting for the good guys and hating the bad guys. While it felt a bit manipulative at times, I let it happen and enjoyed the listen. The story has a good number of characters and subplots, and is wrapped smartly into a cohesive whole. The history was more believable than the characters. I rarely read or listen to a sequel right away, but I have already bought the sequel to this and will listen to it next. The reader is solid and well suited to this story.

23 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting story

Interesting Civil War insights. Entertaining format. Would be better without the steamy scenes. Not needed.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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informative...but

Is there anything you would change about this book?

there is a great deal of redundancy....and unfortunately when developing a story around facts, the creativity is sometime lacking. as it was in this novel. Jakes used the same devices to create friction in the text over and over again, which made it sometimes boring and unimaginative.

4 people found this helpful

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Difficult to stick with

I LOVE historical fiction and am fascinated by Civil War times, so I purchased the book. Had it not been a story about a time in history I want to learn more about, I would have asked for my credit back. It does appear Mr. Jakes did a lot of research, and there was a lot I found interesting, so I listened to the whole thing. In fact, because of the story (so true what they say, story trumps style) and the interesting family/friends/love/war dimensions, I even purchased the sequel. Maybe it will be better written.

But some of the characters....WOW! Does he just hate women, or what? My goodness, even the worst of worst characters ALWAYS need at one thing to like about them. I found NOTHING to like about several. They were completely sadistic. And to think any woman, especially a woman from the South, in those times, would ASK to sleep with SEVEN men in 1.5 hours??? Seriously. I couldn't help but be offended by how he wrote at least 2 of his female characters.

On top of that, while the omniscient point of view works well for movies, it is too hard to keep up in books. I was constantly hopping from one person's head to another. Back and forth, back and forth. It was dizzying. I had to keep rewinding as I wondered who was saying and thinking what. Authors should want to keep readers moving forward, not backward. Omniscient point of view is lazy writing.

7 people found this helpful

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Great story,great book,great narrater!!!!

Im glad they redid the North and South books..I've already bought the old DVD series with Patrick Swayze, I bought the preorder of book two,i cant wait to start it..With all the true events of the civil war and the that time John Jakes does a great job putting two families from different walks together.. The love and hate the two families have for each other will test the times..And it wont be easy,this is a must read...

17 people found this helpful

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Very well done.

The TV mini series mirrored the book nicely, with only a few variations. This was a great listen over several days. Well worth it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C. Bailey
  • 03-07-21

Gone with the Wind meets War and Peace

I must admit I didn't know much about the American Civil war, but I love a good family saga and having lived in South Africa have drained the Wilbur Smith Courtney books to the last drop. It was the Narrator, Grover Gardner who led me to this book; having just finished The Stand and earlier having listened to the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (hardly a man trapped in a particular genre!) I knew I was in for impeccable intonation, distinguishable characters and a rich spread of accents.

The story unfolds slowly, there are the usual vendettas, set-backs, and baddies up to no good. There are the usual romantic entanglements, frantic couplings and skeletons in cupboards. All this is set against a well researched backdrop of the inexorable build up to a war that still raises painful emotions in America, The harrowing realities of slavery and the social and economic causes of the war are comprehensively described in what seemed to me (as a Brit)), a fairly balanced way. I have just started the second book, so the war hasn't really got going yet, but already I am planning to continue to the Third book!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-21-19

fantastic.

I loved it. having seen the tv series I was unsure if the book would grip me as it did but after the first chapter I was hooked.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 01-28-15

Interesting characters in interesting times

A thought provoking characterisation of two families fighting to keep their friendships alive while their country tears itself apart. Looking forward to the next 2 books.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Baz94
  • 03-29-17

brilliantly written. brilliantly read.

jakes has kept so true to history with the facts and events while mixing them perfectly with the fiction within the story. he has created a stoey that has lots of plots and storylines and every one of them are interesting and keep you wanting more. grover narrates this perfectly. the accents make you feel like you are actually there! absolutely loved this and look forward to the next two books in he series.