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The Iron Orchard

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Originally published in 1966 under the pen name Tom Pendleton, The Iron Orchard garnered a cult following for its authentic representation of the people and business of the Texas and American Southwest oil fields. Now available again in a new edition, The Iron Orchard tells the story of a young Texan, Jim McNeely, who is desperate to make a name for himself in the oil fields of Texas. Told from the inside by a man who knew the oil fields intimately, it is a vibrant, brutal story of the men who labored, sweated, lusted, and gambled their money and spirits to pump oil out of the earth. It is the adventure of violent men among other violent men. And it is the story of perseverance and love in the midst of one of America’s most dramatic industries. The Iron Orchard is magnificent and memorable reading.The Iron Orchard was a cowinner of the 1967 Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction along with Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. The Iron Orchard film premiered at the 2018 Dallas International Film Festival.
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5 stars
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25 (37%)
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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for C.H..
27 reviews6 followers
October 16, 2017
Incredible insight into the lives of those who live and die in the West Texas oil patch, including some of the finest writing on the subject of oil and oil men I've ever read. But praise for these inspired passages must be tempered—there are many clunky chunks of prose that feel dated or overly-wrought. The novel is also marred by the misogynistic, homophobic, and racist attitudes of the time; though it's worth noting the author does attempt (somewhat) to rise above these notions. Taken in its historical context, The Iron Orchard is a book with some of the most beautiful paragraphs about West Texas ever penned, but from a narrative perspective, it will undoubtedly fall short for many modern readers.
Profile Image for Julia Walker.
662 reviews14 followers
May 15, 2019
Pendleton writes of a very real part of Texas history. He demonstrates that there were crooks and moral men among the great Oilmen of Texas, but regardless, they were a different breed of men all together. The risks they took, the way in which they were willing to gamble, the control they had is all here for the reader to enjoy. If you have any interest in Texas history or the oil business this is the book you should read. Tom Pendleton has written the best historical fiction on the Texas oil Industry.
5 reviews
July 18, 2020
Exceptional, true-to-life read.

Being in the industry and having read a number of iconic industry novels and non-fiction works, this stands out as the most honest, true to facts novel out there. Frankly, 360 pages are not enough and one is left wanting more. Incredible that Van Zandt, a neophyte writer, so beautifully captures the essence of the oilfields with compassion and empathy for the characters. Highly recommended.
34 reviews
December 6, 2020
This was a much better book than I expected. It was a book to be read for my book club. If not for that, I never would’ve read it. Interestingly, I’m not sure what I really liked about it. It was interesting from a historical perspective, but the main character was very flawed and not very likable. It was often quite predictable, even in silly ways. Still, I found it hard to put this book down. It was a real page turner.
Profile Image for Bee.
23 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2019
Having grown up in west Texas in and around the oil industry this book hit home. It reminded me of a boss I had and was spot on in its portrayal of those rough and rugged men
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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