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The Given Day (Coughlin #1)

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  13,447 ratings  ·  1,984 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
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Hardcover, 704 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by William Morrow & Company (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
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
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Kemper
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
Will Byrnes
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 ha ...more
Dave
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
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Connie
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 cadence....eve ...more
Kathleen Gilroy
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 d ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
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
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Laurie
This book had so much going for it, I couldn't put it down...at 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
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Ms.pegasus
Nov 01, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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 y ...more
Margaret
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
Mike
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
Kat
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
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Marleen
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 (audible.com) 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
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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
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Kerri
I seem to have been picking some very good books lately but this one really popped the cork! I have heard a lot of good things about Dennis Lehane and now I see why so many people praise his works. Usually when I read historical fiction I tend toward the long ago eras but I have a very good friend here on Goodreads that has me interested in Boston...so I decided to learn a bit more about Boston's history and also get my first Lehane book under my belt.

Very happy to have done both. This is not ex
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Carmen
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
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Bill
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
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Rick Riordan
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
Donna
This book starts out with a great story of Babe Ruth and his little baseball contemporaries, playing baseball with a rag-tag black team. When that baseball story was over, I had to stop and read the book jacket one more time, because I thought, "I didn't know this was a sports book." And there was no mention of baseball on the jacket. So I continued reading wondering how this game was going to tie in.

This is my first Dennis Lehane novel and I'm glad to say it won't be my last. Even though this w
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Adam Wilson
The Given Day is the second novel I have read by Dennis Lehane. The first was Shutter Island and the two are very different from each other which really makes me respect this author for trying new things instead of writing the same type of story over and over. To quote Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lehane has a kind of “easy power” in his writing. He seems very professional to me and his books feel that way. The amount of research that went into this 700 page historical thrill ...more
Pamela
Oct 16, 2012 Pamela rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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Tidy_up
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Bonnie E.
This is a tough one to review. Liked it, didn't love it. There were flashes of brilliance. The book opens with an impromptu game along the train tracks between Babe Ruth (and other big leaguers) and an amateur black team and this vignette sets a good stage for the story. The book captures an interesting time (1919) and place (Boston) in history, including some fascinating events like the Boston police strike and the Great Molasses Flood (a large tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through t ...more
Deborah Edwards
1919 was one hell of a year to be living in Boston, Massachusetts. Even more so if you happened to be an Irish beat cop in the North End with terrorist neighbors, a politically connected family, an undercover job infiltrating anarchist groups, and an African American buddy who happens to be running from the law for the murder of a drug dealer in Tulsa. In "The Given Day," Dennis Lehane has done more than write a big, riveting story, he has captured a time in history and made it come alive for ge ...more
Tony
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 s ...more
Meegan McCorkle
I was fascinated by the social issues and history covered in this novel. Set in 1918-1919 Boston, it deals with the rise of anarchist terror, labor unions and the NAACP. Compelling writing about Irish immigrants who have built a life in America, new immigrants trying to establish their life, and the conflicts that resulted as African Americans moved north to start over. Enjoyed the inclusion of real life figures Calvin Coolidge, John Hoover (J. Edgar), John Reed, Eugene O'Neill and Babe Ruth. I ...more
Arwen Miller
Interspersed with short vignettes featuring Babe Ruth, this book is meant to be a wide-ranging portrait of Boston in 1918-19. It encompasses the Spanish Influenza (the book refers to it as "the grippe"), the ongoing labor movement and strikes, the explosion of a molasses factory in Boston, and the Boston policemen's strike and subsequent rioting. However, for all its historical scope, the book remains character-driven. It's just too bad that so many of the characters are flat. There are storylin ...more
JoAnne Pulcino
Dennis Lehane has written several award winning novels which I have truly enjoyed. He even wrote Mystic River which became a movie and won Academy Awards for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in 2004. This time he has written a fantastic saga about Boston in 1919 during and after World War I. Danny Coughlin is the son of the police chief in the north end, and this is that family's story combined with the story of Luther Laurence, a black man who has killed a crime boss in Tulsa, and is working for the C ...more
K
This book gets four stars just for holding my interest over 700+ pages, flawed though it was. And it was, unfortunately, flawed. Other reviewers pointed out the mediocre characterization, the book's overstuffed nature, its anachronistic tendencies, and some of the more contrived plot twists. And it really was too long. But still. Dennis Lehane writes killer scenes, and between that, some interesting dilemmas, and the well-paced plot, I was hooked.

Danny Coughlin, son of a high-ranked Boston polic
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Alison Miller-astor
Wow, what a book! Mostly set in Boston in the early 20th century, this is an epic tale of the ongoing struggle of the have-nots (the working class) against the never-ending injustices of "the system". The richness of the historical detail with regards to the birth of the unions and the 1919 police strike in Boston (the latter definitely "new news" to me), the depth and insight of the character development, even the inclusion of Babe Ruth as one of the protagonists, all comes together into a nove ...more
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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
Shutter Island Mystic River A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro, #1) Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & Gennaro, #4) Darkness, Take My Hand (Kenzie & Gennaro, #2)

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“And he hated himself and hated her,too, for the ruin they'd made of each other.” 178 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.” 50 likes
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