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Days Without End

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  12,742 ratings  ·  2,027 reviews
Thomas McNulty, aged barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine in Ireland, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas goes on to fight in the Indian Wars—against the Sioux and the Yurok—and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horror ...more
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Viking (first published October 20th 2016)
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Richard It's great fiction. Is it historically correct? Probably more so than the historical records would confirm. The novel is concerned for truth and…moreIt's great fiction. Is it historically correct? Probably more so than the historical records would confirm. The novel is concerned for truth and understanding, exposing inhumanity and humanity in the same frame. Few dates and places are mentioned in the narrative because, I'd guess, it's designed less to teach, more to make us think.(less)
Milda
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Community Reviews

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4.01  · 
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 ·  12,742 ratings  ·  2,027 reviews


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Jaline
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sebastian Barry is not a writer. He is an alchemist who turns what is base and depressing and disastrous into gold that sparkles with exuberance, a sense of adventure, and hope. And a vein of optimistic and wide-eyed wonder runs through the gold like silver.

This novel tells the story of two young orphaned boys who happen to take shelter beneath the same shrub in a rainstorm and become fast friends. They experience hardship together where hunger and lack of decent clothing and no shelter is hard
...more
Elyse Walters
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow.....I admit to staying away from this book — and then I read Jaline’s review.

I don’t think I really knew what to expect...but whatever it was - it wasn’t this!
Jaline’s review was a clear punch in the stomach - I felt an urgency to read it. I finished it seconds ago. Since there are already many wonderful reviews on Goodreads ....
I’m only going to add a few things:
I’m glad I read it.
The Indian Wars and Civil Wars were horrific — brutal!.....with no real heroes or villains. Too many lives w
...more
Hannah Greendale
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



A heartrending, vivid retelling of the Indian Wars, recounted by a protagonist with a distinct and memorable narrative voice. Days Without End being absent from the 2017 Man Booker shortlist is a travesty.

Diane Barnes
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My friend Wyndy recommended this book to me, and in her own review said that she didn't write well enough to do justice to this book. The truth is that no one does. It contains worlds, but at it's heart is the story of 3 people coming together to make a family. It is told through the eyes and in the words of Thomas McNulty, and his language carries you away like a river. I give you some of his words:

"We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world."

" Man, we was so clean and nice, I wis
...more
Annet
A wonderfully poetic book, about a violent period in America's history. I would compare it to McCarthy's Blood Meridian although different in style. But both bloody stories, told in the poetic voice of two different authors. A contradiction of poetry and bloody war which in a weird way works, delivering a heartfelt book.
Not an easy read for me, but beautifully written... Focus was essential for me to really appreciate the story. Because of study and work, I wasn't able to do so at first, and oh
...more
Sam
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Sometimes you know you ain't a clever man. But likewise sometimes the fog of usual thoughts clears off in a sudden breeze of sense and you see things clear a moment like a clearing country. We blunder through and call it wisdom but it ain't. They say we be Christians and suchlike but we ain't. They say we are creatures raised by God above the animals but any man that has lived knows that's damned lies.

Days Without End is extremely well-written historical fiction that overall left me admiring
...more
Violet wells
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fabulous storytelling and narrative voice. The excitement of this novel told in feverish lyrical prose is unrelenting. We get an intimate first-hand account of the plains wars with the Sioux, the civil war and the lawlessness of the settler towns in the wild west. There’s barely a page in this novel where you’re not fearing for the lives of the novel’s three central characters who form a misfit family – two male lovers and their adopted Indian child. The surface of this novel is dazzling.

Beneath
...more
Angela M
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A story of the American West and the Civil War told by a young Irish immigrant, written by an Irish author ??????

If it weren’t for the glowing reviews of some trusted Goodreads friends I may have skipped this, and I’m so glad I didn’t because this book works so well on so many levels. First and foremost it was the writing with language that soars in its simplicity. Secondly, Barry gives us big slice of American history in such a small volume, which is powerful and painful to read at times. This
...more
Cheri
Sebastian Barry’s “Days Without End” was a bit reminiscent to me of the strange travels in “News of the World” with writing that reminded me of my grandfather’s reading to me of Walt Whitman. Not that I haven’t read Whitman on my own, but I only hear it anymore in my grandfather’s voice.

There’s a lovely, if somber, touch to the writing, with prose that sings the song of every man.

“We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world.”

This story is narrated by a young Thomas McNulty, a yout
...more
Hugh
This is the first book I have read that is new enough to qualify for this year's Booker prize, and it sets the bar pretty high. This is a wild picaresque fantasy set in nineteenth century America, and is very different to any of Barry's previous novels, all of which are much closer to modern Ireland. This time the narrator Thomas, another member of the Sligo McNulty family, is a poor Irish boy who has lost his family to the potato famine and has found his way across the Atlantic.

Thomas meets Joh
...more
Paula Kalin
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Paula by: Costa book award
I loved, loved this book! Days Without End is one of the finest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. (I’ve luckily been able to say this twice this year!)

Winner of the Costa Book Award, this historical fiction is about two young Irish men leaving the great famine behind to come to America. Thomas McNulty, in the first narrative, takes us through American history with his best friend and partner, John Cole, by joining the Army to make a living. A violently written novel, the author, Seb
...more
Emma
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Whatever it was that I was expecting from this novel, it's not what I got. It was more bloody, more beautiful, more affecting than anything I had imagined. Even if sometimes I felt like it lost itself within its own cleverness, this did not detract from the overall power of the story and the narrator. If anything the dissonance between the voice and the character of Thomas McNulty is what makes his piercing perceptiveness so effective- he is talking about more than his own story, he reflects the ...more
Maxwell
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, man-booker, 2017
"Things just go on. Lot of life is just like that. I look back over fifty years of life and I wonder where the years went. I guess they went like that, without me noticing much. A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards. I ain’t got no argument with it, just saying it is so."

What an absolutely beautiful story. And believe me, I never thought I'd find myself
...more
Trish
Has an Irishman written the Great American Novel? The question is not theoretical; Sebastian Barry’s latest novel is the fourth time he has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The novel is his seventh, but it is Barry’s long experience writing for the theatre—thirteen plays already—that lends excitement to this work. After the years of excellent effort, suddenly Thomas Thomasina McNulty springs full-grown from Barry’s well-tilled field. The extraordinary success of this gem of a novel set ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 02, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish
Wow, you know, this book is just really not for me. First I tried reading it in print and the language felt so archaic and forced, and part of me was resisting the idea of an Irishman writing a western, I think. My immediate gut reaction was a big nope.

But it's on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize! And people I respect have given it five stars!

I decided to try it on audio because it's available in Hoopla, but it's the kind of story where my brain just tunes it out. And it's weird to hear it
...more
Rebecca
An entirely believable look at the life of the American soldier in the 1850s and 1860s, this novel succeeds due to its folksy dialect and a perfect balance between adventuresome spirit and repulsion at wartime carnage. While it shares some elements with Westerns and Civil War fiction, it’s unique in several ways. Though thrilling and episodic, it’s deeply thoughtful as well. Thomas writes semi-literate English but delivers profound, beautiful statements all the same. Lovely metaphors and memorab ...more
Dem
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
2016 Costa Book of the Year winner
Barry's prose as always is beautiful and vivid and he captures the most fateful years in America's past.
Days Without End is a coming of age story about friendship, survival love and the tragedies of war.


This is my fifth novel by Sebastian Barry and Days Without End has a connection with other novels by this author and the McNulty Family, this time we are introduced to Thomas an ancestor who is orphaned during the Irish Famine and at the age of 17 m
...more
Simon
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has just been incredible. Wanted to read it all in one go yet wanted it to never end. A miniature epic. All the feels. Not sure how I'll manage to review it, that good. One of those. ...more
Rosh
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this vividly imagined, intoxicating tale on querness, violence and atrocious American history. I'm drained, elated, enraptured and sickened to be on the roller coater ride with dancing boys dressed as women to the same boys joining army and brutally killing Indians.

The language is a hearty made-up vernacular worthy of Mark Twain. Stick with it, you'll be glad you did.

And to you Mr. Barry, I beg you to please let me sit and stare at you when you write. Iet me be your slave.
Lawyer
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: given to me by Lynda
Days Without End: By the Hush

Well it's by the hush, me boys, and sure that's to hold your noise
And listen to poor Paddy's sad narration
I was by hunger pressed, and in poverty distressed
So I took a thought I'd leave the Irish nation
-Paddy's Lamentation, Traditional, Author Unknown


“That’s why no one will talk,” reflects Thomas, feeling that what has happened is simply not accounted as a subject. “That’s because we were thought worthless. Nothing people. I guess that’s what it was. That thin
...more
Liz
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It’s a bittersweet feeling to finish a book that’s had me in such a hold for these last few days. I am delighted to have read it but I’m already missing that world and the people in it… most particularly Thomas McNulty. As wonderful a narrator as I’ve come across in months.

I’ve read a great deal of books in differing styles, and somehow it still surprises me when I come across something so inimitable as this. What gives this book it’s individuality, in my opinion, is Thomas’s voice. He’s such a
...more
Tracy Chevalier
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best written book I've read all year.
Monica
3.5ish Stars

OK, so I think I'm going to depart from conventional wisdom here and say I found the book to be a little gimmicky.  Episodic.  This was Forrest Gump of the West.  Since I haven't read Forrest Gump, let me explain what I mean in terms of the movie.  Forrest always seemed to find himself right in the middle of important events of history with mostly tragic though some comic results.  That was how this book came across.  (view spoiler)
...more
Trudie
**3.5**

For a 300 page novel this sure took me an inordinate amount of time to get through. I don't know if I just wasn't in the mood for lyrical westerns or the fact I poked my eyeball with a stalk of grass half way through or that I just could not fully believe in these Civil War era cross dressing soldiers. Whatever the reason, I just didn't have the love for this. It was undoubtably a beautifully written jewel of a thing, but it left me cold.

I was a few chapters in before I realised Sebastia
...more
Meike
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From all books on the Booker list that I have read, this has the most beautiful prose – more beautiful even than the writing of George Saunders and Ali Smith. There are two main threads in this novel: The love story between the protagonists Thomas McNulty and John Cole, and the establishment of America, where the frontier myth is intertwined with the Indian Wars, and the fight for the abolition of slavery almost tore the union apart.

The story is told from the perspective of Thomas McNulty who l
...more
Chadwick
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Things that give you heart are rare enough, better note them in your head when you find them and not forget."

DAYS WITHOUT END is the latest entry from Sebastian Barry in his loose, multi-generational McNulty family series, and it's his best one yet. With this one, he takes us to a completely different time and place: the American West, the Indian Wars, and the Civil War. It's a surprising and wholly original take on men in wartime.

There is harrowing violence and suffering: battlefields, massacr
...more
Julie Christine
I have some catching up to do. Days Without End is Sebastian Barry's seventh title in a canon that follows the Dunnes of Dublin and the McNultys of Sligo through two centuries and multiple continents. I first encountered Barry through his soul-ripping A Long, Long Way, one of the most powerful war (in this case WWI) novels I have ever encountered. And then again in A Secret Scripture, a private meditation on grief and memory and a rebuke of a culture that bound women into a prison of inescapable ...more
Phrynne
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-books
I could not give this as much love as many reviewers have but I could still see that it is a very worthwhile book. Some of it was enormously confronting and I struggled with passages like the detailed description of the slaughter of the native indians.

However the book is also about the love between the two main characters and this is wonderfully told. Thomas is a truly remarkable man and the reader suffers along with him when he is in difficulties. The style of writing the author adopts is also
...more
Rachel
You know what's tragic? When you find a book that seems tailor made for you, and then you end up not clicking with it at all. If we're going down a checklist, Days Without End is everything I should love: contemporary Irish lit, LGBT protagonist(s), a blend of literary and historical fiction, depressing, lyrical prose; hell, my copy even has a quote from Kazuo Ishiguro (one of my all-time favorite writers) on the cover.

No one is more surprised than I am that I hated it so much.

First, I want to
...more
Gill
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
Review published on Goodreads on 10th October 2016

'Days Without End' by Sebastian Barry

5 stars/ 10 out of 10

I have read several of Sebastian Barry's earlier books (my favourite of which is 'The Secret Scripture'), so I was very interested in reading this latest novel of his.

This novel is a first person narrative told by Thomas McNulty, who came over to the USA from Ireland as a child, during the Famines. It tells of his life as a soldier in both the Indian Wars and the Civil War, and after.

The p
...more
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Play Book Tag: Days Without End / Sebastian Barry - 4**** 6 18 Jun 24, 2018 08:27AM  
Help with a sentence 3 29 Feb 22, 2018 08:39AM  
Elated about starting another Sebastian Barry Book? 4 37 Jan 31, 2018 08:15AM  
Play Book Tag: Days Without End - Sebastian Barry - 3 stars 10 42 Sep 09, 2017 06:31AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2017 Longlist: Days Without End 47 95 Sep 04, 2017 02:49PM  
Play Book Tag: Days Without End - Sebastian Barry 4/5 8 26 Aug 15, 2017 03:37AM  
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Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers

Barry's literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success, having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional nove
...more
“A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards.” 47 likes
“We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards.” 25 likes
More quotes…