The Hearts of Men

The Hearts of Men

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"[A] tender, insightful book... Perfectly paced and leavened with humor, it's a wonderful read." -- People

An epic novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp--from the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father's business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan's teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths--and the limits--of Nelson's selflessness and bravery.

The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality--and redemption.

Publisher: New York, NY :, Ecco,, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2017
ISBN: 9780062469687
Characteristics: 392 pages


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Aug 19, 2017

Well-written and conceived, though a little unsteady. Especially at the end, where the whole thing tumbles down in a real melodramatic house of cards. Basically, if you think all men are terrible, this novel goes out of its way to affirm your perceptions.

The story follows three generations of men as they endure a summer Boy Scout camp. We see not only the impact of the fathers, mothers and peers, but of the attitudes of (a declining?) society and (lack of?) moral turpitude as we jump from decade to decade.

There's a lot to chew, and some interesting narrative techniques to twist from generation to generation, but ultimately the story couldn't get out of its own way. The only lesson learned is that boys will be boys, in all their rotten ways.

Mar 26, 2017

Kind of a strange story with a lot of unlikeable characters. But it was still very readable - I finished it in 2 days. However, I find myself thinking that not many boy scouts would enjoy this book. There's a lot of mean and raunchy activities portrayed against the Boy Scout backdrop. Nelson is the shining star in this book, but unfortunately he becomes a supporting character in parts 2 and 3. In general, the book does not paint men in a very good light. It would seem that the "hearts of men" are in a battle of good and evil.

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