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A Brother's Blood Paperback – 24 Apr 1997

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Paperback, 24 Apr 1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (24 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140234837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140234831
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,744,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 22 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very engaging, well-written novel 5 Feb. 1998
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this novel very much and was surprised at how much I liked it. After reading several Tom Clancy/James Patterson novels, this was a welcome break: A quiet, thoughtful novel that centers around two related mysterious deaths. Perhaps my interest in the book was colored by the fact that I have visited almost all of the places mentioned in the book and even spent a night camping on the site of an old WWII German POW camp in Maine. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good novel.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read and interesting insight into a WWII aspect 26 Dec. 1997
By Richard Kurtz - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm one of these people that I select a book based on a review (NY Times) an interesting ad, also the NY Times Book review and, in this case, the fact that it was compared to a book I enjoyed: i.e.Snow Falling on the Cedars...this was a great read, good characterizations, and I learned a great deal about a chapter in US history that I knew very little about --the fact that there were German POW's on US soil working in a logging camp in Maine, etc. --I would recommend this book, and have already done so ...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing mystery of an American POW camp 4 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mr. White has written a compelling fictional story of a little known fact of World War II history on a virtually unknown POW camp in northern Maine.The story captivates the imagination. However, as a long term resident I felt too many liberties were taken with the nature of the characters of the story. I am sure using place names that in many cases are real were helpful in creating atmosphere. However, the book gave a very wrong impression of the character of the people who inhabited this region both present and past. His description of the environment helped create a mood more in the style of Stephen King but missed the contrast of overwhelming isolation and extraordinary beauty. In addition, Mr. White wrote in the voice of the lead woman character which came across as a man describing what a woman appears to be. It fell short. Fascinating story but from the many, many people who I knew lived there in that era, it plays loose with their decency. A story is a story, and as such it was well written.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem, a literary mystery with much to say... 15 July 2003
By Richard L. Pangburn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the time of the first Gulf War. "Saturday morning, early. The road up ahead is quiet and dark. The headlights slice through the darkness like a sharp filet knife cutting fish. But what spills out isn't the gleaming entrails of morning but only more darkness. In the rearview mirror it closes seamlessly together again and goes on forever."

The first few sentences are a metaphor of the theme of the novel, cutting open the past and exhuming the buried crime. In the first paragraph we discover the narrator is a woman and we get the feel of the strength of her character; we learn that she is not skittish, not prone to the fear of dangers real or imagined. She is not unaware of dangers around her, such as the bears she could hear, and smell them too, "a smell as hard as axle grease."

The rest of the first chapter is packed with good things: beautiful language, moody asides, foreshadowing and subtle revelations of character. The narrator is a 61 year old woman who runs a roadside cafe that caters to truckers, loggers, hunters, and tourists. We like her immediately.

There is a nice bit about the radio, loneliness, the cover of darkness. "I slam headlong into that darkness, hoping that if I go fast enough I'll shatter it like a piece of smoked glass. And on the other side? Maybe morning."

The glass symbol is reprised later in the chapter, when the red-faced man looks in her car window at her, startling her out of a sleep, "as if I'd fallen asleep during those war years and just woke up."

Sleep is a metaphor, as it is the lack of sleep, she says, "that finally begins to hit me--makes me feel my age like a heavy woolen coat that smells of rain."

And the red-faced man has parallel symbols in "the solemn red face of the alarm clock, waiting for first light." Then later the oil light in her car comes on, "a red demon eye staring back at me." Luckily, she finds a Shell service station open, and there is an interesting exchange with the young cat-eyed man who works there. Comments on war, the control of government, the lies, the play of masculinity and femininity. And this is all in the first chapter.

The chapter ends with a reflection on Time: "Time seems to have lost its texture, is able to expand or contract, to take on new shapes like a cloud on a windy day."

The panther, cat, wolf, bear and other hunter allusions intrigue me. But all men aren't predators. Leon, for instance, has rabbit eyes.

Back to that wonderfully multi-leveled and understated scene where Libby is driving in the snow and nearly runs out of oil. Her old car has a degenerative ailment, like cancer. She finds the yellow Shell station (not a Gulf station) in the fog and the young blond man comes out to help her in orange overalls. He has nocturnal eyes too, but he works "with the slow fussy movements of a raccoon."

He checks the oil and brings the dipstick back to show her, "pointing it at her the way a matador aims a sword at a bull." But he doesn't want to hurt her, just to warn her and not just about the cancer in her car. He wears the orange overalls of the oil company, but detests the ongoing Gulf War where men are asked to die for oil.

He tells her the story of his father who fought for them in the Viet Nam war and was sprayed with Agent Orange, and got cancer from it. He is angry about this, not so much about the dying as about the lies, "We're just looking for the bastards to tell us the truth."

This thread, the individual vs. the lies of the military-industrial complex, is mocked when Libby mentions that the souvenirs she sells tourists actually come from the Smokey Mountains. "What do they know?" And the question is reprised again when Libby discusses the newsreel propaganda pictures of goose-stepping blond giants wearing swastikas and jackboots. But it turns out that these German kids look like kids anywhere. "What do we know?"

A moody windswept cover adorns the Harper edition of the book (starkly beautiful too), and I like the easy-to-read print size.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best fiction I read in 2000 12 April 2001
By FrancesM - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this after my local group had arranged for White to speak at an annual Breakfast with the Authors event. I was immediately drawn into the story and the characters--especially the woman who tells us the story. I did not grow up in Maine but in New England and have spent a little time in rural Maine. The characters seemed so real and true to me. In thinking about the characters after reading I was particularly struck by the quality of the relationship between the siblings. Not a 'Beaver Cleaver', easy family but to me a full telling of a difficult family history and its effects for many years after. Some of the discussion at the breakfast related to the differences between this book and 'The Blind Side of the Heart' and why readers may have found that book a bit more difficult--it does not have a 'simple', clear resolution--also an excellent book. This is a book to read and savor....
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