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Lay Down My Sword And Shield (Hackberry Holland #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,154 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Now available on audio for the first time, the classic novel marking the debut of James Lee Burke’s Hack Holland.

Hackberry Holland, cousin of beloved James Lee Burke hero Billy Bob Holland, made his debut in Lay Down My Sword and Shield, originally published in 1971. Now, fans can learn about Hack’s colorful history, forged against the backdrop of the
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published September 1st 1971)
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Paul Nelson
Hackberry Holland or Hack to his friends is quite possibly one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever come across, I was riveted to everything he said and did, and in the same breath he was also one of the most infuriating. He listens to absolutely no one, does pretty much whatever he likes, he doesn’t just burn the candle at both ends, no he’s way past that, he burns every candle in the candle making factory at both ends, then burns the factory down and if ever a character pissed you off, ...more
William Bentrim
Lay Down My Sword And Shield by James Lee Burke

This book details the rebirth of Hackberry Holland. He returned from the Korean War, rebuilt his life and now he is recreating himself. The hard panned setting and historic family background contribute to his reassessment of his identity.

Describing the book doesn’t really do justice to the story or it’s fluidity. The author reminds me of Pat Conroy and his poetry like prose. The descriptions of the countryside and people are thorough and beautiful.
John Hood
Bound: SunPost Weekly March 4, 2010
Texas Two-Step
James Lee Burke Drinks Deep from the Heart of Texas
John Hood

Hackberry Holland pisses me off. As a matter of fact Hack pisses off a lot people, so I doubt seriously he’s worried about some cat down in Miami. Hell, the Texas mouthpiece probably doesn’t even notice just how pissed off he makes me. Why would he? He generally doesn’t notice how pissed off he makes anybody else either. And that includes his close
Andrew Smith
Written in 1971, this is one of JLB’s earliest works. It’s a precursor to two of his very recent novels – Rain Gods and Feast Day of Fools – and it follows the fortunes of Hackberry Holland, a young Texas lawyer who is standing as a candidate for a congressional seat. As always with Burke, the lead character is a deeply flawed: a hard drinker plagued by visions of his capture by Chinese during the Korean War. He is constantly in conflict with those around him as he struggle with his demons and t ...more
Nick Smith
While I think Burke is a good writer, his flair for local color and scenic detail sometimes gets in the way of his storytelling, and this is a great example of that. It's basically the story of a bastard drunk who doesn't care for anyone else's rules yet somehow has a connection to "the little guy" and wants to fight for their civil rights. But barely anything actually happens in this book; other than lovely descriptions of people and places, there's not a lot to recommend. If it had been 150 pa ...more
Wayne Zurl
Lay Down My Sword and Shield by James Lee Burke

We’ve read about Hackberry Holland the Texas Sheriff a few times, but this is Burke’s third novel, and Hack’s first appearance as a hard drinking womanizing defense attorney. All the back-story is here: His family history, his time as a POW in the Korean War, The life of debauchery Hack mentions in later novels, and the crux of this story, his time as attorney and activist for the farm workers union and potential Democratic Congressman.

For the firs
Linda Rowland
Early writing that shows his potential but seems to be reaching. Really wanted to read it before the others in the series and not sorry I did. There is a big time gap between this and the next book which I am starting now. I truly expect the writing to have grown to what I expect in a JLB book.
If this had been my first JLB it may have been the last.
James Lee Burke can certainly turn a phrase. I enjoy the lyric and often irreverent language, and find Hack Holland (both the old man our Hack admires, and our Hack himself) an altogether pleasant protagonist - which is not the same as being pleasant all the time.
James Lee Burke is one of best writers of our times. He is one of the few writers whose books I will purchase in hard cover because I can't wait for the paperback version to come out.
I'm a huge fan of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux books, and I wasn't willing to accept that Burke could make me as interested in another protagonist, but he did!
Kathleen Hagen
Lay Down My Sword and Shield, by James Lee Burke, narrated by Will Patton, produced by Simon and Schuster Audio, downloaded from

Again, this is read by Will Patton who could read the phone book for me. It is a precursor to Burke’s most recent book, “Raingods”. This book preceded it by about 20 years, and I wish I had read it first. I would have understood the main character, Hackberry Holland, better if I had.
Publisher’s note:
The hero of James Lee Burke's recent best-seller Rain Gods
Kathy Davie
First in the Hackberry Holland series revolving around an alcoholic lawyer trying to find himself after his release from a Korean POW camp while trying to live up to his family legend.

My Take
Keep in mind that Burke wrote this in 1971 at the end of the Vietnam War.

Burke spends most of the book setting Hack up for his transformation. Steeping us in his degeneracy---the alcohol and whoring. The engrained expectancy of his social class. A shallow peek in the cesspool of politics and campaigning.

#1 in the Hackberry Holland series. This 1971 novel is Burke's third work and his first with a recurring character - although Hackberry Holland would not recur until 38 years later, with Rain Gods (2009). Hack is the scion of a political Texas family, a lawyer and a candidate for Congress. He is also struggling with an unloving marraige, recurring nightmares of his time as a Korean P.O.W. and too many bottles of Jack Daniels (the struggle with alcohol being a theme repeated by Burke through the ...more
James Sorensen
The first book in the Hackberry Holland series. Hack is tired of the way his life is going. He is being pushed to run for Congress, his brother is after him constantly to stop his drinking and work harder at their law firm and his marriage is all but non-existent. Married to a socialite who is only interested in power and prestige, who looks down on those beneath her social class. When a war buddy is in need Hack goes South to try and keep him out of prison. During this fight Hack finds a new re ...more
I read this after I had read Rain Gods. It is the beginning of Hack's adulthood and his rejection of success and corruption that he must embrace in spite of his awareness that he is a fallen and prone to error man. Read with Rain Gods, this book is similar to Henry V, which ends with a cautionary during the gorgeous ceremony at the end of the play. Things erode and fall apart and we deteriorate with our world. If our souls follow our bodies, then what?
Ellen Gemmill
This book got better the more I got into it. I actually read it because I had read another book by the same author, The Glass Rainbow, which I liked better. I certainly got an education on the plight of migrant and farm workers, even though I lived through the strikes lead by Cesar Chavez. A good story with a message about social morality and responsibility.
He's my favorite author. Read a Burke book and your in a dark theater by yourself surrounded and engulfed by his images. I've read them all but can only do so once every 3-4 months because in the end they are their message about the human condition is not hopeful.
Clay Nichols
As with George Pelecanos' The Cut what we have here is a very capable writer setting up a new franchise. The new series bearer here is Hack Holland, and I look forward to reading his further adventures. Not just because he resides here in my neck of the woods (which can often be a distracting liability as I find inconsistencies all over the place), but because, by the end of all the exposition and flashing back, I like this guy.

It took a while. I found Hack's view of the world through the bottom
Andy Mckinney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's 1965, the civil rights movement is moving into the fields and the farm workers are organizing. Hackberry Holland is a lawyer, would-be politician, and Korean War vet. He's brought into the unionizing movement when a friend from his military service years is falsely imprisoned in a Texas jail and he thinks he can help. James Lee Burke can't write a bad story. I love his talent for giving his characters the ability to express a mix of feelings. He helps you imagine exactly what the character ...more
Lynne Perednia
Hackberry Holland came on the literary landscape in 1971, talking about the bullet holes in his porch left by John Wesley Hardin when the outlaw confronted Hack's grandfather before relating how an up-and-coming politician ended up far from the corridors of power.

In 2009, Hack was seen again in Burke's brilliant RAIN GODS. Now, Hack's introduction, LAY DOWN MY SWORD AND SHIELD, has been reprinted.

Son of a congressman, Hack is on the verge of becoming one himself. All he has to do is live through
Denise Dougherty
Nobody weaves melancholy through a story like James Lee Burke. His good guys are all flawed and the bad guys are so subtly chilling they stay in your memory. Many years ago, I learned the value of listening to his words read by the talented Will Patton who gives Burke's central characters life. This book is filled with truths - as are all his stories - that most of us don't want to hear about - and definitely find it painful to think about.

This book was no exception.

I've been reading Burke's Dave Robicheaux series (always in audio) for years. I took advantage of an Audible sale of first in a series sale and stocked up on some first books by some of my favorite mystery/thriller writers, including this one featuring Hackberry Holland. This book was published in 1971, before the Robicheaux series began. Hack foreshadows the Dave Robicheaux character in being haunted by his war experience (Korea vs Vietnam).

When the story starts, Hack is drinking like a fish,
James Lee Burke wrote this novel in the early 70s. A couple of years ago, he went back to the character, Hack Holland, (related to Billy Bob Holland from four other books).That book was "Rain Gods." A third book is due out on September 27 (the same day as the next Jack Reacher book). Holland has gone from a debauched rich kid war veteran-turned politician to a repentant 60ish sheriff, whose high standards are rooted in his recognition of his past vices and failures. That recognition makes him ha ...more
This book probably deserves a higher rating because the author is an amazing storyteller but I just can't go higher. The original copyright is 1971 and the author captures the casual racism and sexism in Texas too well. I was ready to DNF it by page 20 but I'd made a commitment to myself to get to page 50 of any book before packing it in and by then I was caught up in the story. There have been quite a few movies set in the south showing the ugliness of racial tensions during and before the civi ...more
Isidro Rivera
Set in Texas during the Vietnam era, this novel offers a surprsing meditation on the racial and societal tensions that beset the US during the sixties. The main protagonist, Hack, a prominent Texas lawyer troubled by his past and by the burdens of history, confronts the inequalities of America. In the course of helping an Army buddy falsely accused, Hack discovers his real self and learns how to deal with the atrocities he suffered in Korea and the injustices he witnessed in his home state. It i ...more
I liked this book, though it doesn't really stack up against my favorites from James Lee Burke. This one was written back in 1971, and it's interesting to see how much Burke's craft has developed since then. Anyone who has read the Dave Robicheaux books will see great similarities between the main character of this book; it feels like Hackberry Holland was the prototype for Dave. In any case, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next two about Hackberry. I found the series after r ...more
This was an interesting audiobook. I love Burke's character development and very effective, clear descriptions. He really creates a vivid picture that puts me there with his characters! The plot was not quite clearly defined, but for an introductory book to the Holland series it got the job done. The choice of narrator is absolutely perfect. I will always read/listen to another of his books!
Hackford Holland's tumultuous early career as a reluctant Congressional candidate, and the conflicts he faces as he confronts the pain of his Army past, his family legacy, a cause worth fighting for (Mexican farm laborers and the injustice they face) and a passle of vivid and unsavory big-money backers, including his cool sleek wife. Oh, and then there's the self-destructive drinking and womanizing. This novel was published in the 80s but seems to have been brought back to life by a delayed sequ ...more
This one ran close to being a four star book so I am going to call it a three and a half and then I will be able to sleep better at night. Again I find a book that defies just being placed with a label such as mystery, suspense, thriller or what have you. So I put up a new shelf and called it good. What this book really is about is more of a look at Texas as it was sometime in the 1960's as good as I could guess. A story of an attorney, who is a poster boy for Jack Daniels, and how others are tr ...more
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James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving
More about James Lee Burke...

Other Books in the Series

Hackberry Holland (3 books)
  • Rain Gods (Hackberry Holland, #2)
  • Feast Day of Fools (Hackberry Holland, #3)
The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1) The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux, #16) Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux, #3) The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux, #18) In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead (Dave Robicheaux, #6)

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