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The Given Day (Coughlin #1)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  18,072 Ratings  ·  2,342 Reviews
Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, New York Times best-selling 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.

The Given Day tells the story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigr
Hardcover, 704 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by William Morrow (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 28, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it
The size of this novel equates to the size of this story: Mammoth. Huge. Epic. Lehane sweeps us into the world at the end of ww1 in Boston. It's a time of unrest, social uprising, anarchists, revolutionaries, immigrants, plagues and violence. It's the story of 2 men: One white - an Irish cop; one black, a house worker. Both struggling to define themselves during a turbulent time in history leading up to a given day, where change is inevitable.

The stories are told In contrasting parallel with ric


Buddy read with Stepheny- the kidnapper with the heart of...well...lots of people probably, Jeff- the whiny prisoner with a blue crayon, and Jess- the not so innocent bystander, and two new comers (who incidentally finished waaaaaay before me) Steve and Carmen

Extra Extra read all about it!

 photo 871edff7-ce49-4b3d-b636-5666625ee55f_zpsntmht58c.jpg

THE GIVEN DAY is a historical novel set in Boston- Massachusetts and Tulsa- Oklahoma.

Aiden "Danny" Coughlin, an Irish Boston Police patrolman whose father -Thomas- is an influential detective and
Will Byrnes
Nov 28, 2016 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
Lehane is a wonderful writer. Mystic River was his opus magnus, and his Boston hard-boileds are quite good. This novel is his attempt to break out into a larger literary world. Set in the period around World War I, Lehane offers us a sense of the times, and they are not pretty. The two primary characters are Danny Coughlin, a Boston cop in a long tradition, and Luther Laurence, a poor black. There is much in here about the condition of the working man, and it is startling, even to someone who ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it

It’s interesting to see an author branch out from his/her comfort zone and attempt to tackle a different genre. Here Dennis Lehane tries his hand at Historical Fiction and although not entirely a fiasco, the book falls far short of his usual compelling work.

Centered on the labor unrest and Red Scare of 1918-19 in Boston, the book bites off more than it can chew and at over 700 pages feels bloated. To a lesser or greater degree, Lehane also references World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, race
Imagine an America where the wealthy people in power rule a system in which they are free to reap enormous profits through unregulated businesses while every privilege that society can offer is given to them. These titans of capitalism underpay their employees for hard labor that lasts at least twelve hours a day in unsafe conditions with no overtime or benefits. If any of these workers dare complain, then the government will happily label them as dangerous socialist terrorists who threaten the ...more
Dan Schwent
Nov 22, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
The Given Day is the tale of two men, Danny Coughlin and Luther Laurence, and their families, set against the backdrop of pre-prohibition Boston.

Yeah, I know that didn't really say much but it's hard to write a teaser for a 700 page historical novel.

As I understand it, this was Dennis Lehane's return to the novel world after five years of doing other things, mostly writing for The Wire. And he crammed every thought he may have had in about Boston in the early 20th Century in those five years int
Nov 25, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Carmen by: Non-Crunchy
He felt a hopelessness that had refused to leave him since he'd woken on the basement floor of Salutation Street. It wasn't just Salutation (though that would play a large role in his thoughts for the rest of his life), it was the world. The way it gathered speed with every passing day. The way the faster it went, the less it seemed to be steered by any rudder or guided by any constellation. The way it just continued to sail on, regardless of him.

I hate the cover. It's so ugly. Couldn't they do
Aug 17, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing
Lehane hasn't written a book in five years. The Given Day is his return to fiction.

It is a big book, both in length (700 pages) and scope. Set in late 1918-1919, the book follows two men, one Irish Boston cop Danny Coughlin and a black man from Tulsa Luther Laurence. The book explores race, baseball, the Boston Police Strike, terrorism, love, and a whole mess of other topics.

It is a huge book, and it is beautifully written. I could not put it down.

The major complaint about this book, I feel, is

The Given Day taught me something very important about myself:
I don’t like historical fiction.

I like fiction. Apparently I only like certain parts of history.

When I read Mystic River I was blown away. I absolutely loved Lehane’s writing. He was eloquent and thought-provoking-even moving at times. So when Honk, Graymeat and the White Candle (sometimes Candlestick) and this here crazy MahFah decided we were going to read a Dennis Lehane book I was over the moon about it. I already owned the Given
WOW! The Given Day has it all. Lehane gives his reader historical facts, tons of strong characters, both good and evil, social and political unrest, murder and mayhem and throws in a love story to boot! This was a powerful book, and even more so for me as I listened to the wonderful narration of Michael Boatman. The ease with which he changed voice, tone, accent was mesmerizing. The immigrant Irish brogue, the street cop Boston Irish accent, the New England sound, the black man's ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 27, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
I frequently experience a letdown after reading the choice new releases that publishers and literary critics push and bookstores parade as the greatest novel of the decade. So I was wary but seduced, anyway, to buy Lehane's book--by Boston, by the Red Sox, by themes of racial injustice and social unrest, by the parallels to contemporary issues, and by Lehane's accomplishment with Mystic River.

I was impressed by Lehane's ambitious genre-crossing. The quality of this book is sufficiently steep th
I jumped in late on a buddy-read with Delee, Stepheny, Jeff, and Jess.

Couldn't sleep last night, so I finished this plodding novel. 2.5 stars, barely rounded up.

The Given Day is an historical novel set in Boston around the tumultuous times around 1919: the end of World War I, the Spanish Flu, unions forming against business owners, and huge waves of immigrants coming to the US hoping for a better life.

The story centers around tough Boston Irish cop Danny Coughlin, and Luther Laurence, a black ma
Richard Vialet
This quickly jumped into my list of favorite novels! Not only is it impeccably researched and details dramatic historical events in Boston of 1919, it also follows truly relatable and engaging characters. The book follows two young men, one black and one white, who get caught up in the social and political turmoil in Boston at the time.

I was worried that being a long historical drama, it would be boring, but from the first chapter I was totally engaged and then became swept up in Luther's desire
Kathleen Gilroy
Feb 09, 2009 Kathleen Gilroy rated it it was ok
I awaited fervently for my turn at the library for this book and was pretty gravely disappointed. It begins with great promise -- the period in time in Boston's history where the end of WWI, the outbreak of the great influenza epidemic, violent terrorism, and the formation of labor unions all intersect to create huge social upheaval. But I just can't finish, despite how piqued my interest is about this period of history. The writing was often wooden; the characterizations are stock and flat; I ...more
Oct 06, 2008 Laurie rated it liked it
This book had so much going for it, I couldn't put it least for the first 400 pages. But then I started to feel the characters were being manipulated from the outside, not operating from internal truths, and there were quite a few anachronistic conversations and unbelievavle relationships between African Americans and whites (given the time period, 1919).

I'd recommend it for the history and the exciting read, but in the end I think it couldn've been stronger. I think, secretly, Lehane
Bill Powers
Sep 12, 2016 Bill Powers rated it it was amazing
Lehane's use of dialog and story is outstanding and riveting. His story pulls you in and you will not be able to stop. This was my first Dennis Lehane story, but definitely not my last. I highly recommend if you love thrillers with an historical aspect.
Nov 01, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Boston native interested in historical fiction
Shelves: fiction, history
Two odysseys converge into one story. African American Luther Laurence begins his in Ohio. Devoted to Lila Waters, he learns she is carrying his child, and follows her to Tulsa where she has family. Danny Coughlin is born into police “royalty” in the still parochial city of Boston where the Irish police maintain order, Brahmin families rule the political system and Italians and Jews are feared anarchists. His father is a police captain; his godfather is lieutenant of a special squads unit. The ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing
After five years’ silence, The Bard of South Boston swings for the fences with this sprawling, brawling entry in the Epic American Novel sweepstakes, and for me he hits a home run. Although it shares the same home turf as his earlier work (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), this novel is a period piece, set just after World War I in an America I hadn’t realized was so similar to the one we’ve been living in for the last few years: grappling with the effects of a devastating war, the exact reasons fo ...more
Nov 01, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
So far in his relatively early career, Dennis Lehane has given us a stellar crime series and a few other great novels (Shutter Island, which I loved, and Mystic River, which I haven't read because I saw and loved the movie).

Unless he outdoes himself on this one, The Given Day will go down as his Great American Novel.

The Given Day is set in 1919 Boston, and you would think that with the end of the Great War, times would be roaring and booming. Not so. America is in a state of civil unrest, with w
Feb 27, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing
Lehane, Dennis. THE GIVEN DAY. (2008). *****. Be prepared to spend a few nights with this novel from Lehane. It is a long, long book. When you have finished it, however, you will realize that you have just read Lehane’s best bool. It is the story of an Irish policeman in Boston in the year 1919. It is also the story of a black man on the run from the law who ends up in Boston as a servant to the policeman’s family on Beacon Hill. 1919 was a turbulent year, and Lehane uses all of the history to ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slow-burner
Surprise, surprise!

I have read Dennis Lehane before, and he's most famously known as a mystery and crime writer. Not as much for historical fiction, which this novel should be labeled as. I had expected something completely different, but it was a pleasant surprise.

It takes place in 1919 and largely revolves around the Boston police strike as well as some of its key people. Not being familiar with this event on beforehand I found this story very captivating. Lehane cleverly introduces us to the
Aug 23, 2016 LeAnne rated it liked it
Son of a gun, Ive already read this and never reviewed it. The author is so often linked with the idea of mysteries or stories of psychological suspense that this piece of historical fiction is outside the arena that one would expect.

Sets in the early 1900s, mostly in Boston, this terrific story is about the family of an Irish cop and the black man who serves his family as a domestic. Labor disputes of the time, the anarchy that ended in what we would now call acts of terror, strikes, returning
Jun 16, 2016 Marleen rated it it was amazing
I've read this book for the first time in Sept-Oct. of 2011 (see review hereafter). This time around I've listened to the Audio version ( and the impact of the story is the same: this is and remains an amazing narrative of a specific tumultuous time in the city of Boston. A huge round of applause for Michael Boatman who did a fantastic job bringing to life so flawlessly the many different characters that are featured. He did a great job with all the accents!

1st review:
The minute I re
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of Lehane's since his earliest detective novels. When I was writing mysteries, he was one of those writers I was simply in awe of -- a guy who writes with such talent and vision it's a little intimidating to the rest of us schmucks plodding along in the genre. The general public will be familiar with his novels that were made into movies: Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby, Gone. I'll confess I haven't seen any of those movies. I have difficulty seeing movie adaptations ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, crime
The Given Day easily gets 4 Stars for the excellent, vivid characters we follow through 1918-1919 in Boston and other points west. The main characters are an Irish police family in Boston and a young black family separated between Oklahoma and Boston. The terrible flu epidemic of 1918 and the Boston Police Strike of 1919 are main events. Growing labor unions, anarchists, terrorists, socialist and communist political threads all contribute to a turbulent time. Strangely, Lehane threads a parallel ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm a sucker for epics, especially family-dramas that come with "cast of characters" or "family tree" sections, so I was bound to love this 700-page tome.

The Given Day completely immerses you in a pivotal moment in history, giving you the sights, sounds, and tensions of early-1900's Boston, a city struggling to recover from World War I and all of its residual effects. The characters are richly drawn out and their struggles are very human. The historical details were well researched, and the time
Oct 16, 2012 Pamela rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one at all
Can't believe I'm giving a Lehane book only one star. What's worse, it was so bad I couldn't even finish it. First of all, I am not a baseball fan. I don't like it. Never have. Never will. In addition, I do not think baseball is a metaphor for life. There. That's said.

Perhaps I could have struggled through to the end if I had cared for any of the characters. I did not. I especially didn't care about the main character. It wasn't that I disliked him. It was more that I was entirely apathetic towa
Scott Rhee
Jul 23, 2012 Scott Rhee rated it it was amazing
Dennis Lehane's epic historical novel "The Given Day" is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The prologue alone is perhaps the best piece of short story writing I have read in years, and to have it continue the story for another 600+ pages is pure joy. The novel is set in Boston during the years after the First World War and leading up to the Boston police strike, an event of which I'm ashamed to have had no previous knowledge. It's a novel about the shaping of Boston, which is ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Buddy read set for October 5 with Mah Fah, Honk, and Candlestick. Otherwise known as Stepheny, Delee, and Jeff. Should be interesting.
Set in the aftermath of WW1 Boston.

Uh-Oh is this going to be all Babe Ruth and sport!?

4* Shutter Island
3* Mysic River
CR The Given Day
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Dennis Lehane (born Aug 4th, 1966) is an American author. He has written several novels, including the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award winning film, also called Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon (Lehane can be briefly seen waving from a car in the parade scene at the end of the film). The ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Coughlin (3 books)
  • Live by Night (Coughlin, #2)
  • World Gone By (Joe Coughlin, #3)

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“And he hated himself and hated her,too, for the ruin they'd made of each other.” 223 likes
“Your first family is your blood family and you always be true to that. That means something. But there's another family and that's the kind you go out and find. Maybe even by accident sometimes. And they're as much blood as your first family. Maybe more so, because they don't have to look out for you and they don't have to love you. They choose to.” 69 likes
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