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Bone by Bone (Shadow Country Trilogy #3)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  256 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Although it stands alone, "Bone by Bone" is the conclusion and capstone of the Watson trilogy as well as a true literary tour de force. Matthiessen brings his anti-hero to life with a complexity of character and profound humanity that establishes this novel as a modern classic.
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published April 6th 1999 by Random House (first published January 1st 1999)
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James Murphy
Jan 02, 2010 James Murphy rated it really liked it
Bone by Bone is the 3d volume in Peter Matthiessen's epic trilogy about E. J. Watson and the southwestern Florida coast at the turn of the century. I'd already read Killing Mr Watson, the 1st volume, when Matthiessen published his revision of the trilogy as Shadow Country. Rather than read that single volume, as fine as it's reputed to be, I decided to stay the course with the original 3 novels. So last year I reread Killing Mr Watson, then Lost Man's River during the summer. And now I've comple ...more
Ron Charles
Dec 14, 2013 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing
The cover of a new book about juvenile crime made me pause. It's called "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent," by James Garbarino (Free Press). On the front are two sweet looking kids about eight years old. One's holding a shotgun to the other's head.

In a period of rapidly falling crime rates, incidents of juvenile violence are even more perplexing. The past year has produced several trenchant books on the tribulations of young men, a male echo of the warning sound about young women broadcast b
Mar 05, 2012 Charlene rated it liked it
I've spent a lot of my reading time over the last few months with this trilogy -- it is well-written, a fascinating story and place. My favorite was the first book; this one was the most painful to read. The first book was set entirely in south Florida; the second book did include some north Florida and Indian Territory settings. But this one begins with the childhood of the main character, in a very difficult time and place in American history, immediately after the Civil War, in Edgeville Coun ...more
Oct 09, 2015 Lora rated it really liked it
Peter Matthiessen is a master storyteller. I can't imagine opening one of his books and not becoming deeply engaged very quickly. I listened to Bone by Bone narrated by George Guidall. He, too, is a master of his art. So much so that I've now added other audiobooks narrated by him to my 'to read' list. I highly recommend the audiobook for this story.
Victoria Grusing
May 19, 2014 Victoria Grusing rated it liked it
First, I did not read the first two books in the trilogy that were set after this book; but to be read before. Second, it felt like a man would have enjoyed it much more than a woman.

The writing is excellent, the subject sad and disgusting. Mr. Watson was a battered child both physically and mentally. This can not excuse all of his actions and the delusional way he dealt with his decisions in life. He proceeded to marry and have children with a number of very young women. Admittedly, one was an
Feb 22, 2010 Ellen rated it really liked it
Very disturbing and hard to read, but a compelling picture of the desperation (and greed) leading to the settling and development of Florida's Gulf Coast. I'm not sure I'll make it through the rest of the trilogy; EJ Watson is an unpleasant character; but it was a powerful experience reading it soon after traveling in that region.
Nov 07, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it
The characters in this book were like watching car wrecks, or dangerous animals. It felt like a really long book. I accidentally read Bone by Bone without knowing it is the last of a trilogy. Now I want to read the others: Killing Mister Watson and Lost Man's River.
Oct 17, 2007 Sean rated it liked it
third part of his haunting, vivid, "Mr Watson" trilogy. loses something by being based in the present, but wraps it up nicely.
Oct 08, 2013 Judith rated it liked it
There is a lot to recommend this book. It provides remarkable pictures of the US, in particular Florida, during the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. It provides one way to view the world of E.J. Watson, a legendary character in Florida in that time. It offers a bit of a cautionary tale about ecology, albeit in the background. Yet for me its story of Watson was almost relentlessly awful. That is, the things Watson did and the things that were done to him were almost all bad. The small lights ...more
Oct 05, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-mod
In this novel, the third book in the Watson Trilogy, Mr. Matthiessen gives us E.J. Watson's first-person narration of his own lifestory, from his birth in South Carolina to the moment before he is gunned-down by his friends and neighbors. Unlike the previous mega-rashomon-like narratives that presented various stories of Watson's life and deeds in often conflicting, often exaggerated, always sensational terms, this book deflates the myth of Watson-the-terrible-outlaw and presents Watson-the-man- ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Mom rated it really liked it
The EJ Watson books are hard to forget. This is the second one I've read, after Killing Mr Watson, and the main character has become so compelling, complex and comprehensible that I want to know more about him even though he's doomed from the beginning and dead at the end. His all too human capacity to dig himself into a hopeless pit from which there can be no escape is tragic and real. Playing out this one person's virtues and vices and strngths and weaknesses in the frontier of the Florida Isl ...more
Tim O'Neill
Feb 29, 2016 Tim O'Neill rated it really liked it
Shelves: family, florida
Third book of the Watson Trilogy told from the viewpoint of E.J. Watson. Well worth the read.
Apr 03, 2011 Judi rated it it was amazing
Bone by Bone, the third of three books in a series, follows the life of Ed Watson from childhood in the post Civil War days in the South through adulthood in the early twentieth century. I love historical fiction/non fiction on the Civil War. This is probably one of the most well written book on those times that I have ever read. Nearly every page made me flinch at the painful everyday way of life after the war. The poverty, race relations, the toll taken by the war in so many ways. A great book ...more
Feb 07, 2016 David rated it really liked it
Bone by Bone (Edgar Watson #3) by Peter Matthiessen (Random House 1999) (Fiction). This is the final book in the Watson series, and it saves the last word for the old man himself. Edgar Watson tells his own story and clears up the myths and errors once and for all! This is a masterpiece! Peter Matthiessen later rewrote the trilogy as a single novel called Shadow Country. My rating: 9.5/10, finished 1999.
Mary Transue
Jan 07, 2013 Mary Transue rated it it was ok
Bone by Bone was the third and finally book of a trilogy. As I investigated the reviews of others, I realized that this book would have been much more enjoyable knowing the background, and other perspectives that came from reading the first two books. However in the third, I immediately know the biased, first hand opinion of the main character. In the end I would not read this book again, and did not consider it to be a "page-turner"
Jan 01, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Stumbled across this, read the backcover and figured it would be a worthy read. Not being too bright until I later read the inside cover did I realize it's by the same author as 'Snow Leopard' which I read a couple months ago. I didn't even know he wrote fiction.
Peter Matthiessen has easily and quickly moved well into my top-10 favorite authors list.
One helluva writer.
Now to find the first two parts of the trilogy...
Jan 27, 2015 Rory rated it liked it
I kept running across this book because of its popularity. So I thought I'd take a look and found out that even though it's a work of fiction, the main character was a real person. Decided to read it.

Battered boy turned mean racist murderer, not my favorite kind of story. However, it is very well written. The author kept my interest in a story about a very bad man told from the perspective of the very bad man.
Jan 30, 2013 Casey rated it did not like it
Bone by Bone was a very dry book for me. being the third book in the trilogy it didn't grasp my full interest and was a book I almost dreaded reading. Although it was dry for me, if you are interested in the civil war and violence and racial issue this book would be a good read for you
Jun 04, 2013 Jack rated it really liked it
I love reading anything by this author. Lost Man's River portrays the life of Edgar J. Watson, who lived in the Florida Everglades at the turn of the century. It was hard to follow at times, but well worth the effort to stay with it. This is a fine book that is the third in a trilogy.
Jun 18, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: florida
The third in a series of three superbly written novels that explore the dark history of southwest Florida and the mysterious Mr. Watson.
Jun 08, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Epic. What a narrative voice!

Definitely have to read this trilogy in order. And then go boating in the Glades.
Feb 08, 2014 Ken rated it liked it
Part of the Lost Man River trilogy. Florida Everglades in the early 1900s was a lawless frontier.
Dec 17, 2013 Roy rated it really liked it
Third volume in Watson trilogy. This one from Watson's perspective, his full history as he experienced it...
Arlen marked it as to-read
Apr 27, 2016
Hayne Barnwell
Hayne Barnwell marked it as to-read
Apr 13, 2016
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Apr 12, 2016
Elise Bouchard
Elise Bouchard marked it as to-read
Apr 09, 2016
Linda Tiessen-Wiebe
Linda Tiessen-Wiebe rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2016
Eleanor LeRoux
Eleanor LeRoux marked it as to-read
Apr 05, 2016
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Maria Schoenfelder marked it as to-read
Apr 01, 2016
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Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.
More about Peter Matthiessen...

Other Books in the Series

Shadow Country Trilogy (3 books)
  • Killing Mister Watson
  • Lost Man's River

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