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The Son

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  31,510 ratings  ·  3,611 reviews
The acclaimed author of American Rust, returns with The Son: an epic, multigenerational saga of power, blood, and land that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the border raids of the early 1900s to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the
Hardcover, 561 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Ecco
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Kylie Galbraith I know you posted a year ago but I thought Id comment with a few suggestions. I agree with Cam Hoff. Definitely Cormac McCarthy books. I would recomme…moreI know you posted a year ago but I thought Id comment with a few suggestions. I agree with Cam Hoff. Definitely Cormac McCarthy books. I would recommend Blood Meridian.
I absolutely loved The Son and want to read his other book. Larry Mcmurtry's Lonesome Dove series might be of interest to you?
Also, (you probably know this) Deadwood was based in part on the book 'Deadwood' by Pete Dexter. (less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-old-west
”’I don’t have to tell you what this land used to look like,’ he said. ‘And you don’t have to tell me that I am the one who ruined it. Which I did, with my own hands, and ruined forever. You’re old enough to remember when the grass between here and Canada was balls high to a Belgian, and yes it is possible that in a thousand years it will go back to what it once was, though it seems unlikely. But that is the story of the human race. Soil to sand, fertile to barren, fruit to thorns. It is all we ...more
Will Byrnes
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On the ranch they had found points from both the Clovis and the Folsom. For the eight thousand years between Folsom and the Spanish, no one knew what happened; there had been people here the whole time, but no one knew what they were called. Though right before the Spanish came there were the Mogollan and when the Spanish came there were the Suma, Jumano, Manso, La Junta, Concho and Chisos and Toboso, Ocana and Cacaxtle, the Coahuiltecans, Comecrudo…but w
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm really dumbfounded what happened here. A cursory glance at this and I'd expect this to rank high on an all time list: it's a huge sweeping multigenerational epic, covering huge swaths of American history; it's a postmodern tale of the American West replete with blood lust, scalp-hungry marauding Indians, vigilante ranchers, and oil barons. It's socially and politically subversive, in that it both challenges how frontiersmen confronted race and privilege as well as exposing America's less tha ...more
“A man, a life, it was barely worth mentioning. The Visigoths had destroyed the Romans, and themselves been destroyed by the Muslims. Who were destroyed by the Spanish and the Portuguese…[I]t was not a pleasant story. And yet here she was breathing, having these thoughts. The blood that ran through history would fill every river and ocean, but despite all the butchery, here you were…”
- Phillip Meyer, The Son

There’s no way I’m going to call this the great American novel. I would have to define wh
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: will byrnes
A great read for me—I could hardly put it down. Everything is big in Texas, and in this saga a family line gets big in alignment with a big history. Luckily it doesn’t do a Michener of trying to cover a vast epoch using a huge cast.

Meyer sticks stays mostly with three fascinating and complex characters of three different generations of the McCulloch family, spanning about a century and a half. The frontispiece contains the lineage for the three: patriarch Eli, his son Peter, and great-granddaug
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Starts impressively but overall, feels too deliberate, too polished, too forcibly epic. Weird proofreading errors in several places. The narrative frame collapses about a third of the way through, just, utterly. The most compelling sections are those from Peter McCullough's diaries. He is, by far, the moral compass of this novel and the most well-drawn character. At times, the book reads like a history textbook. Absolutely grating. Too much of the writer inserting himself in the prose at times. ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*2nd Read - Such a sublime book. Thought provoking and heartbreaking.*

Since reading The Son I have been spurred on to read about and explore the life of the Native American bands of the Comanches. The Son opened my eyes to a whole culture and civilisation that I had always overlooked, but instantly became fascinated by. The more I have discovered about the Comanches the more I have respected The Son and the knock-on affect I have felt since reading it.

Check out my review for The Son by Philipp M
I had loved Meyer's American Rust when I read it during a holiday in Pennsylvania a couple of years back; a trip to Texas last week seemed like a good excuse to read his follow-up, which showed every sign of being a culmination of his many talents. The Son is a sprawling, multigenerational family tale, not a million miles away from the kind of AGA-saga that people like Joanna Trollope have been writing for years, though because the author is male and American the book – which in alternating chap ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
"Remember that," he sad, "None of it's worth a shit until you put your name on it."
-- Philipp Meyer, The Son


There are certain rare novels that capture the art, heart, and action of both American fiction and history. 'The Son" is one of those historical novels that can absolutely propel the reader. Its narrative strength, however, is equaled by its detail and its multi-generational epic arc. 'The Son' captures the tension between land and people; the contest between people and people; the strugg
This is a review that I originally posted in July, 2014. For some inexplicable reason it vanished without leaving any explanation. Since it is a favorite book of mine, I am re-posting it.

Phillipp Meyer’s "The Son," a sprawling multi-generational epic set in Texas (which is always a good place to locate epics, especially the sprawling variety), begins with the family patriarch, Col. Eli McCullough.

"Most will be familiar with the date of my birth. The Declaration of Independenc
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a big summer blockbuster of a novel—a huge book that can keep one occupied for days. The world looks a little different after a session with it—we feel wonder and regret in equal shares: wonder at human diversity and commonality evident at the same time; regret at our inability to comprehend this and share our bounty until it is too late.

Three generations of Texans represented by Eli, Peter, and Jeanne struggle through Comanche raids and the discovery of oil from the mid-nineteenth throu
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog
An epic tale of family set in a state big enough to bear the weight of legend, The Son follows three generations of the powerful McCullough family of Texas: "Colonel" Eli McCullough, the rough and tumble patriarch of the family, whose past includes being a Comanche captive and assimilated tribal member, Texas Ranger, Civil War Confederate, and Texas land baron; his son, Peter, a gentle soul tied to the land, but whose conscience weighs on him after his family's participation in the slaughter of ...more
Joy D
“You could butcher and pillage but as long as you did it for people you loved, it never mattered. You did not see any Comanches with the long stare—there was nothing they did that was not to protect their friends, their families, or their band. The war sickness was a disease of the white man, who fought in armies far from his home, for men he didn’t know, and there is a myth about the West, that it was founded and ruled by loners, while the truth is just the opposite; the loner is a mental weakl ...more
reading is my hustle
Edit :: 02/20/14

After some consideration I have decided to link you to Will's review instead of writing my own. As is often the case, his review hits it out of the park.

This book. EPIC. I disappeared for a few days while reading it! I was late picking up a child. I passed on a night out with a friend. I kept my eyes down whilst walking my dog.

Real life?
So. Intrusive.

That's all I've got for now.

A beautifully written family saga I listened to via audiobook. Set in Texas and seen through the eyes of three generations, this story about the rise of Texas and the early frontier in America is a not-to-miss book. My favorite character was Eli McCullough. Starting with his capture at 13 years old by the Comanches, and bringing him through to his old age. What a larger-than-life character.

A definite 5 stars!

A grand book of family history.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Son is a ruthless, involving account of a Texas family whose empire was gained through violence, exploitation and luck. Covering several generations, this novel is a mini-history of the American West. The focus is on three McCulloughs: Eli, born 1836, Pete, born 1870 and Jeanne born 1926. All of them are forced to make immoral choices to keep their empire. Of the three, I found Pete, who struggled with his family's brutal legacy, the most interesting. ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars, rounded up

I'm not going to go into the plot of this 4 generation saga since many before me have done a better job than I could hope to do, plus the GR synopsis tells you all you need to know. I listened to the audiobook and Will Patton and Kate Mulgrew were phenomenal. They definitely increased my enjoyment of the story. And what a story it is.

After a very strong start, I thought it would easily be a 5 star read, but the middle felt a little bloated and my interest flagged a bit. Not
(4.5) Meyer’s sweeping Western saga about one Texas family – ranging from the 1840s to the present day – brims with violence and philosophical tension. Like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, The Son is a gory Western that transcends the simplistic cowboys-versus-Indians dichotomy to draw broader conclusions about the universality of brutality in a nihilistic world. Encompassing every American conflict from the Civil War through to Iraq, it presents a cycle of warfare that’s as old as the fossils ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I finished. I read it through to the end. I have to apologize to my friend Diane for giving her the bad advice to snap up the ARC of this that we saw at a book event (because I had already snapped up my ARC at a previous event). This novel has had so much buzz! I listened to and read so many, many positive reviews and I can say that for the most part, I can understand all the buzz. This novel is epic. The subject matter is very interesting (the settlement of Texas) and there were two chara ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Epic, savage, surly, and brimming with ideas, Philipp Meyer's sweeping historical tale of Texas demands shelf space with Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurty. Like his predecessors, Meyer illustrates the ruthless, violent forms of blood-spilling murder it takes to build the future of a land. Death begets life.

People are conditioned to believe in their rights of land possession, and history point fingers at those who stole land from those that used to occupy it. Wars are fought over territory, and a
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Update: season 2 started yesterday April 27th, 2019 the series is on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan.

I loved this book immediately. The characters pull you in and keep you interested from beginning to end. Thankful that the author included the family tree, I frequently reminded myself who was who. Highly recommend this read!
This is one of those books that didn't bear the weight of my expectations. Philipp Meyer's The Son certainly has been getting a lot of buzz -- recently named #2 book in Amazon's half-year review/best books of the year (so far) -- but it just seemed to fall short for me in many areas.

It is a multi-generational saga, "epic" for sure but never quite feeling "sweeping" or grand. I thought it started off gangbusters with great potential in the exploration of three eras in Texas history (settlement/I
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have no particular affinity for Texas. I don't know and don't care to know the difference between a llano and a barranca or a shotgun and a rifle. But I just spent two weeks with ranchers, Rangers, braves, drillers, riggers, vaqueros and several generations of a fabulously wealthy and powerful family and had a perfectly wonderful time.

This isn't the picturesque Old West of saloon brawls, gunfights and fallen women. Nor are there heroes and villains. In this Texas, most everyone kills when nec
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audible
I do love stories with early Americana themes. I don’t even mind unlikeable and deeply flawed main characters as long as they have some redeeming complexity. Still, it took a while to finish and review this novel…partly because of interruptions but mostly because I never managed to fully engage with this family enough to stay absorbed in the story. I found them unlikeable with unremitting amoral judgment. Even in the end, as each reached their old age, they still lacked credible feelings of remo ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I started off enjoying the book and was not surprised to learn that Philipp Meyer is influenced by James Michener. I had great hopes that the book would develop into that type of sweeping saga. However by halfway through I was forcing myself to finish it. This multi-generational saga is recounted by three members of the family, but the author does not succeed in really giving them individual voices. The style of all three is very similar and a lot of the writing is done in a trance like style. P ...more
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-i-own
I give this 3.5 stars. I finished this a few days ago but wasn't sure how I wanted to rate it. I loved the story of Eli, especially when he is with the Indians. Jeannie and Peter's stories I also liked they just weren't as captivating. I'm not sure why (maybe it's my "olderish" brain) but I had trouble keeping track of who was who in the family but luckily there is a family tree at the beginning of the book. I feel the author does a great job describing Texas in that time period. I could really ...more
Tom Mathews
Meyer's book is a sprawling family chronicle told through the eyes of four members of the McCullough family spanning from the 1830s to modern times. Only one of the characters, family patriarch Eli has a story that is compelling enough to keep me wanting more. Kidnapped as a boy and raised by Comanches, he later goes on to become a Texas Ranger and Confederate officer before starting his family empire. I liked his character so much that all others were pale caricatures by comparison. ...more
David Eppenstein
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for the better part of a year and maybe more. I acquired it after reading the review of a GR friend, maybe Matt but I don't recall so sorry about that. When the book arrived its length and subject chilled my interest so it sat. Nevertheless, as the new year started I decided to swallow what I expected to be the bitter pill of a mistaken purchase. You see I was expecting something of a Michener-like saga that would be an ordeal to endure. I was wrong, I ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Update: AMC is making this into a 10-episode series starring Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough. It premieres April 8th! (I don't have AMC, which is probably why I just discovered this.)

Oh man. Will Patton is the Clint Eastwood of audiobook performers. Loved his take on Eli McCullough.

Be forewarned: This book is violent. Indians (yep, in this book the Comanche are referred to as "indians,"), arrows, scalpings, torture.... It's all in here if that stuff puts you off. But Philipp Meyer can most cer
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Philipp Meyer's novel, American Rust, was an Economist Book of the Year, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2009, a New York Times Notable Book, A Kansas City Star Top 100 Book of 2009, and an Amazon Top 100 Book of 2009.

Philipp Meyer grew up in Baltimore, dropped out of high school, and got his GED when he was sixteen. After spending several years working as a bike mechanic and volunteering at a t

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