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Woe to Live on Paperback – 19 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (19 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316206164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316206167
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Woodrell comes from a long line of Ozarkers that stretch back before the Civil War. A high school dropout he joined the marine corps at 17. The military and he saw things differently. A period of post military drifting ended up at the University of Kansas and a Michener fellowship at the Iowa Writers School, where he was definitely the odd man out.

He is the author of eight novels including Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, The Ones You Do, Ride With the Devil, Woe To Live On, Give Us A Kiss, Tomato Red and The Death Of Sweet Mister. He lives in West Plains, Missouri.

Critical Acclaim for Daniel Woodrell

"...Daniel Woodrell is a storyteller of bristling imagination and muscular prose, who uses the poetically profane language of the trailerpark to wicked effect..." - Sara Paretsky, Bizarre

"...Daniel Woodrell is stone brilliant ... a bayou Dutch Leonard steeped in rich Louisiana language..." - James Ellroy,

"...Daniel Woodrell is one of the most exciting writers I've discovered in a long time..." - Val McDermid, Manchester Evening News

Product Description

Set in the border states of Kansas and Missouri, WOE TO LIVE ON explores the nature of lawlessness and violence, friendship and loyalty, through the eyes of young recruit Jake Roedel. Where he and his fellow First Kansas Irregulars go, no one is safe, no one can be neutral. Roedel grows up fast, experiencing a brutal parody of war without standards or mercy. But as friends fall and families flee, he questions his loyalties and becomes an outsider even to those who have become outlaws.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By derek.si@virgin.net on 7 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
It's hard to overstate just how impressive this book is. It's take on the American Civil War takes place far from the set piece battles of Gettysburgh and Antietam, in the farms and hamlets of Missouri and Kansas. There the war takes a very different shape; a low intensity, murderous cycle of ambush and reprisal carried out by neighbour against neighbour and family against family. A kind of 19th century Bosnia.
The protagonists of Woodrell's book are a group of confederate bushwhackers, barely out of their teens but hunted down by Union militias in a deadly guerilla war acted out among the the backwoods and ruined homesteads they once called home. While never shirking from the shocking violence and pillage wrecked by these youthful marauders, Woodrell still harbours a deep seated empathy for his young gunmen, whose patriotic notions of southern honour and gallantry are cruelly and rapidly disabused. Some lose themselves in homicidal hatred of the Yankees, others seek oblivion in rivers of rotgut whiskey, while the narrator Jake Roedell clings on for dear life to the loyalties of friendship in a world where all other certainty is ripped asunder.
Given the seriousness of the subject matter, you may be forgiven for thinking that this might be a depressing, if not downright harrowing read. However that would be to underestimate Woodrell's whiplash writing skills. Part dread morality tale, part breathless adventure, this book is stunningly well written. Not content with simply setting his book in the civil war era, it's distinctive first person narritive is also a stylistic homage to the writing of that period carrying all the energy, bravado and earthiness of the litreature that flowered in America at that time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. O'Sullivan on 22 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not really into reading westerns and bought the book after having seen the film which I loved. The first page plunges the reader right into the midst of action and I found it hard to put the book down until I reached the end which was much too soon and leaves this reader dearly wanting to know what will become of the main characters. The language the novel is written in is refreshing and oh so suitable to the tale Wodrell has to tell. One can literally hear the characters speak and the expressions and grammar used, the dialogue being crisp and natural, make this book a true joy to read. This is one to take off the shelf again and again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Claire on 5 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a landmark in literature. The writing is so concise yet conveys so much. Woodrell has to be one of the best novelists around. His command and use of the English language is both unique yet completely accessible. Despite writing on a subject which can often be difficult, as a reader, to plough through, Woodrell supplies a fantastic story which never falls short of the mark & I could barely put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on 21 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
I hadn't planned on reading any Civil War books this year but I am reading all of Woodrell's works and have had this on order with my library for close to a year now. So it was a welcome surprise when it showed up with my library holds! While this is an historical fiction Civil War book it is like none I've ever read before, nor expect to ever read again. Not so much a story of the war itself as it is of a small group of southern men fighting independently as raiders, most are from southern states, a few are from neutral states and one is a black man based on a real photograph of Quantrill's Raiders. This story doesn't take anybody's side as being the right one, neither side is the courteous one. Told from the southern point of view, these men and boys fight because they believe in their cause or because it's what they want to do. As raiders they've chosen not to follow the rule of the military and are hard-knuckle folk who shoot to kill and raid for the rewards. Fresh young Jake Roedel is the main character and the story is told through his eyes. Jake learns to kill, lynch, shoot in the back, raid and pillage all because if he doesn't first, "they" will. At some point he realises that "they", the Yanks, are no different than him in a human way but also no different in that if he doesn't shoot first he'll drop dead first. There is no honour among killers. The black man, Holt, plays a strange role in the story first belonging to one of the men but in an equal relationship with him and then actually befriending our young Jake. The N-word is used superfluously until by the end of the book one has become desensitized to it.Read more ›
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