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The Winter Family

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  731 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Spanning the better part of three decades, The Winter Family traverses America's harsh, untamed terrain, both serving and opposing the fierce advance of civilization. Among its twisted specimens, the Winter Family includes the psychopathic killer Quentin Ross, the mean and moronic Empire brothers, the impassive ex-slave Fred Johnson, and the dangerous child prodigy Lukas S ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Doubleday
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Ricky Grammario Is it possible that violence is neither good or evil but outside the realm of morality, serving as an instrument, and used by men to civilize or…moreIs it possible that violence is neither good or evil but outside the realm of morality, serving as an instrument, and used by men to civilize or socialize, whether good or evil?(less)

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3.59  · 
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 ·  731 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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The sparsely settled West was lawless and chaotic. Men dueled, drank, poached, grazed their cattle, and cut trees on the land of others. The sold whiskey to Indians, raped and whored. Banditry was endemic. Men took what they wanted and disappeared.

wow. so, lots of people die in this book.

and it's fun as shit.

i personally love a good western/grit lit novel and am willing to withstand all of the unsavory things the genre entails: causal murder, torture, rape, and scalping among them. if you prefer
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Horror, Westerns, Historical Fiction
I veered away from my usual genres when I requested this book from Net Galley.

This is mostly a western with a side of Chicago. In a steady push westward from the burning of Atlanta, this story spans the years from 1864 through 1900. Even the so-called civilized city of Chicago is only 1 step away from life in the brutal wild west. In fact, it might be even more brutal where its politics are concerned.

The head of the Winter family, which isn't a family by birth, is Augustus Winter. Golden eyed. I
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it
“And now he was perfectly conscious that Winter’s words were inspiring in him the feeling that he, Noah, had always inspired in others: That what he had believed to be the iron laws of the universe were merely his own prejudices, a tottering shanty built of questions, a stack of assumptions all the way down. That the marketplace was a deep, dark pool of chaos, and that this man was its true apostle.
But then he shook himself, blinked, and remembered that Winter was just a murderous lunatic, broug
*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

This is the kind of book that all other books should aspire to be. It is dark and gritty and full of emotional complexity. It is full of bad people who do terrible things and have terrible things done to them. It's about war and brutality, and how people can believe themselves to be good and righteous and yet do horrendous things because they believe in their 'goodness' so much that they can't look past it. It i
Lisa B.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
My Thoughts

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I was expecting a lot of action, blood, guts and gore. Sadly, for me, it fell totally flat. I kept waiting for something exciting and when I got to the end, I thought - really?

This book is getting excellent reviews on Goodreads. I am but one reader in a vast sea of many and it would be presumptuous of me to think the problem is with the book. Not every book is meant for every reader and this book was just not for me.

Thanks to Doubleda
Doubleday  Books
“This book caught me completely by surprise. The Winter Family is about a ruthless group of outlaws who come together during Sherman’s March to the Sea and continue to wreak havoc through Chicago, Phoenix, Oklahoma and California during the subsequent decades. I’m not usually a western fan, but I couldn’t stop reading, desperately turning the pages. I just had to know what they would do next and how after everything the story could possibly end!” - Lauren W., of the Doubleday Marketing Departmen ...more
*~Lan Lan~*
Solid 3 stars for me! Solid debut novel!

I really enjoyed this novel, more so than I thought I would. I have never read a western before and have only watched a few movies so I was stepping out of my comfort zone with this one. I found it to be a gore-fest with a lot of historical references and intriguing characters. What I lacked was the feeling of being immersed. I felt extremely detached from the story.

Clifford Jackman is a very well versed writer with an obvious interest in the Western genre
This review was originally written for the Historical Novel Review.

August Winter is the leader of a hardened band of killers, men he picked up during his service in the Union army and his banditry afterwards. Among them are psychopaths, rapists, an ex-slave, and a tortured Indian. These men terrorize the countryside and urban streets, from Sherman’s March to the Sea, to the brutal streets of Chicago, to the deserts of Arizona and Mexico. Spanning three decades, their story is one of tremendous v
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: can-con, 2015
The Winter Family opens like a hyperkinetic Tarantino-directed Western (there's even a German character for Christoph Waltz to sink his teeth into), with blood and gore and mayhem. The setting is 1889 Oklahoma and it's obvious that an era is drawing to a close: As Augustus Winter (leader of his eponymous gang) says –

Ten years ago if the law was on you, why, you'd just run into the woods. There was always more country. Wasn't there, Freddy? You remember that feeling right after the war? Like you
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I picked up a copy of this book because the words "psychopathic killer" and "hyperkinetic Western noir" caught my attention. This book did not disappoint in the killing aspect. There were a lot of bodies piling up quickly as the story progressed. Yet, even with this factor, I did not find any of the characters that intriguing. They were just alright. Thus the story never really grabbed me and pulled me in and embraced me. After a while I found myself just drifting along skimming the story. Again ...more
Steph Post
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Clifford Jackman takes no prisoners. This is a wild, violent tale written in the vein of Cormac McCarthy. Not for the faint of heart, Jackman's book will leave you disturbed. In a good way.
Kim Ess
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never really thought about the dirty politics and how the Civil War must have given plenty of opportunities for sociopaths, murders, and outsiders to go completely full out MAD with corruption but after reading this book I know it must have happened a lot. This book is fiction but I think we get a truthful glimpse into unspoken and shameful aspects of mankind. My mind had to process what I read long after I put it down. This would make a memorable movie. It's extremely violent but it's also ...more
Briar's Reviews
The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman

This book reminds me of Games of Thrones if it was set in a western setting. There's lots of death, and lots of interesting drama to keep you interested.

I'm not crazy into westerns, but I love reading in different genres so I don't get bored reading the same old, same old. So this read was refreshing, even if I'm not the typical "target audience".

The book's setting is around civil war time, which is not a setting I see often of (at least in the books I typica
this one had been on my shelf for a long time. I don't know what prompted me to plunk It off the shelf but when I came to Goodreads to look at reviews it left me very torn as to whether to take this one and only book on vacation with me. Most all reviews indicated this was a very violent and brutal book that Quentin Tarantino should love. I really hesitated to bring this book with me but one review that said they found themselves almost rooting for the bad guys told me to take a chance.

a western in the way All the Pretty Horses and Pop. 1280 and Bright's Passage and The Drop Edge of Yonder are westerns, brutal, stinky, deathly, and has some history and motivations within story to make for more depth of plot and lets readers make some sense of the senselessness.
Ron S
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A violent Western noir that encompasses depravity running from the Civil War to Chicago elections after the Great Fire. This is the west as imagined by Quentin Tarantino or Patrick Winters, not Alan Ladd or Max Brand. Fans of Woe to Live On or All the Pretty Horses are likely to enjoy this work from Guelph Ontario based Jackman, who has previously published a novella and a book of short stories.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a dark, bloody western. The Winter Family was gruesome, with memorable characters and over-the-top battle scenes that will be hard to forget.
Dayton Reimer
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. It was a little rougher than I expected, but really engaging and well written. I definitely will check out the short story companion, California 1901.
Mark Freeman
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I'll preface my review by saying that I generally don't read Westerns or 19th century historical fiction. This book offered me the chance to try a new genre and for that I am grateful. I believe it was a fun introduction to the era.

The story follows 30 years in the life of a group of outlaws. The group starts with a few union soldiers and picks up various stragglers along the way, including an ex-slave who killed his master. The ex-slave becomes the catalyst for why the group eventually becomes
Apr 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book really, really disappointed me. Typically, I adore western noir! The American dream gone wrong! Order out of chaos (or chaos continuing despite attempts to instill order). "The Winter Family" has an interesting set up: a group of men lead by a sociopath (?) are thrown together during Sherman's March to the Sea. Disregarding Sherman's orders to respect civilian property, the group unleashes a reign of terror that even Sherman would flinch at. Sadly, the book just did not deliver on its ...more
During the Civil War a man named Quentin is put in charge of a group of men. He totally ignores the orders he has been given and takes a core group of the men and leads them where he wants to in order to carry out his own insane and violent needs. Soon the war is over, but not for these men who are now outlaws and murderers. Augustine Winter becomes the leader of the group, the men fear and respect him. He doesn't kill for the thrill like Quentin, but he doesn't hesitate either. He leads the gro ...more
Jen Layton
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Book Worth Reading Again & Again
Jackman takes us on a journey with members of "The Winter Family". They are brutal, sadistic men from all races. Some come & go, but the main family terrorizes America for three generations. These men are twisted & corrupt, drawn together by one basic desire, to kill. No one is safe from The Winter Family. Women, men, children, babies, Indians, Mexicans, black or white, The Winter Family kills for money, kills for fun, kills for their own bra
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love a good western. The Winter Family was a good entertaining read but a little confusing at times and was not sure who the main character was. It is the story of civil war veterans who continued their violent ways after the war ended. Much like a bloody version of the James gang. I would actually rate this book at 3 1/2 stars. There is a sequel and I will probably read it.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is the kind of story I enjoy, even with its brutality and gore. Quentin Tarantino better be sidling up to the bar and trying to purchase the movie rights to this one. Started out like a Larry McMurtry, then went a little askew into a E. L. Doctorow, then came back to a Cormac McCarthy. Pretty impressive first novel, though I would still place him perhaps a notch below the three aforementioned literary lights. But that is ok, and I expect to see great things from him. Certainly there is very ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. When I was notified that I won this book I was excited and nervous. It is a subject matter that I don't often read and was worried it would follow a similar pattern to many westerns that I read. All the worrying was for nothing. This book was difficult to put down once I started it. There was always something interesting or exciting happening. I enjoyed getting to see the "family" from the different angles of the members of the family. While reading ...more
J. Bill
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
"There will be blood...on every page" could be the subtitle. I kept waiting for some redemption, but there's little to found in these well-written, well-paced, well-plotted longish book. The characters are tightly drawn and are mostly chilling. It's not good bed-time reading -- hard to get to sleep when Augie Winter and his "family" might be lurking in the dark windy night outside your bedroom window. It's definitely not a feel-good book. More a bone-chillingly frightening one as your brain begi ...more
Paula Schumm
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for a free advance download of The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman.
The Winter Family is a Wild West thriller that is filled with war, violence, dirty politics, and lawlessness. Mr. Jackman captures the brutality of life during the Civil War and its aftermath. Augustus Winter is the most evil of bad men. He forms a family of renegades who have no sense of right and wrong. Unbelievably, Winter survives it all: war, fire, injury, and treason within fami
Nov 30, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
This book had some buzz to it and it's well deserved. It's basically a Quentin Tarantino film. I loved the writing style and the way Jackman described characters. I did have a bit of trouble following because there are SO many characters and this was a busy, crazy week for me and I couldn't concentrate on this book as much as I would have liked.

That said, this is a well-written, post-modern Western and I can think of lots of people who would like it.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Traversing through the Civil War era South to California at the turn of the century, THE WINTER FAMILY acts as an expose of what we call the American Dream by showing it's bloody and morally ambiguous roots. Augustus Winter and Quentin Ross are amazingly well drawn and terrifying characters.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Winter Family is a very well written novel. The story is quite gruesome and fast paced, the characters are very interesting and even though most characters are sadistic, ruthless and rather insane, I found myself almost rooting for them. The Winter Family is a very original novel.
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