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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a splendid piece of nonfiction. Part true crime, part Savannah guidebook, it reaches beyond both of these to become a captivating character study. John Berendt effortlessly captures the voices of both the people he meets and th...
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a splendid piece of nonfiction. Part true crime, part Savannah guidebook, it reaches beyond both of these to become a captivating character study. John Berendt effortlessly captures the voices of both the people he meets and the city of Savannah, itself. And yet, though his impressions and experiences shape the narrative, he remains an understated presence in the book, offering what he sees and hears with minimal commentary, and leaving us, the readers, with the sense that it is we who are in fact meeting these people and this place. As their new acquaintances, moreover, we're free and welcome to come to our own conclusions about the quality of their characters, and so we, too, become drawn into the book's singular series of events. Deftly rendered with elegant and evocative prose, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a funny, insightful, and often touching glimpse into Savannah's charming, mysterious heart.

posted by slimikin on May 14, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

BEWARE ABRIDGED AUDIO BOOKS

This audio version of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is an example of how a great paper book can be turned into a dreadful audiobook. Actor Anthony Heald performs well enough, but it's pretty funny when he tries to make his voice sound like a an elderly, sout...
This audio version of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is an example of how a great paper book can be turned into a dreadful audiobook. Actor Anthony Heald performs well enough, but it's pretty funny when he tries to make his voice sound like a an elderly, southern, african-american voodoo priestess. It's a stretch for a white guy. My main beef with this dud is the abridgement. When I first picked it up and saw "Abridged" printed on the box I groaned. But then I noticed that it was three discs. Midnight is a pretty short book, the three disc length led me to believe that only a minimal amount of text was cut out. So I broke my usual rule with audiobooks - never buy an abridgement!

I popped it in the car and all was well until I got to the third disc. After only a few minutes of "Midnight", it was THE END! I was left wondering what was occupying the other hour of the disc. Well, to my horror, it was the author himself, John Berendt, in a long, boring ode to himself. He congratulates himself effusively for writing such a spectacular book. He is sure to let us know how famous he is. How many languages it's been translated into. How much he's done for the city of Savannah, how much the citizens love him..... bla, bla, bla, until I almost fell asleep at the wheel. I would have much preferred that the remainder of the disc was left to the continuation of the actual book. So in the end, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" was abridged into only two discs. And then you're also paying for an extra disc of blather. Dont bother.

posted by Mary_T on November 17, 2009

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  • Posted November 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    BEWARE ABRIDGED AUDIO BOOKS

    This audio version of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is an example of how a great paper book can be turned into a dreadful audiobook. Actor Anthony Heald performs well enough, but it's pretty funny when he tries to make his voice sound like a an elderly, southern, african-american voodoo priestess. It's a stretch for a white guy. My main beef with this dud is the abridgement. When I first picked it up and saw "Abridged" printed on the box I groaned. But then I noticed that it was three discs. Midnight is a pretty short book, the three disc length led me to believe that only a minimal amount of text was cut out. So I broke my usual rule with audiobooks - never buy an abridgement!

    I popped it in the car and all was well until I got to the third disc. After only a few minutes of "Midnight", it was THE END! I was left wondering what was occupying the other hour of the disc. Well, to my horror, it was the author himself, John Berendt, in a long, boring ode to himself. He congratulates himself effusively for writing such a spectacular book. He is sure to let us know how famous he is. How many languages it's been translated into. How much he's done for the city of Savannah, how much the citizens love him..... bla, bla, bla, until I almost fell asleep at the wheel. I would have much preferred that the remainder of the disc was left to the continuation of the actual book. So in the end, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" was abridged into only two discs. And then you're also paying for an extra disc of blather. Dont bother.

    9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a splendid piece of nonfiction. Part true crime, part Savannah guidebook, it reaches beyond both of these to become a captivating character study. John Berendt effortlessly captures the voices of both the people he meets and the city of Savannah, itself. And yet, though his impressions and experiences shape the narrative, he remains an understated presence in the book, offering what he sees and hears with minimal commentary, and leaving us, the readers, with the sense that it is we who are in fact meeting these people and this place. As their new acquaintances, moreover, we're free and welcome to come to our own conclusions about the quality of their characters, and so we, too, become drawn into the book's singular series of events. Deftly rendered with elegant and evocative prose, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a funny, insightful, and often touching glimpse into Savannah's charming, mysterious heart.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2009

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

    I loved this book! The chareacters and plot are very original and catching. I think that way the book is written draws you in and makes you want to keep reading and the way he describes Savannah makes you want to move there or at lease visit. The characters are all colorful and you love them. This is a good book for someone who likes mystery and comedy.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

    In the book every moment seems to lead up to main plot. The book is very organized and easy to read. The characters in the book are very different than normal characters and it is what captures your interest to start with. My favorite character would have to be Chablis, just because of her attitude and personality. In the town of Savannah, it would be very peaceful and I believe that the author portraid the town very well. It's easy to picture in your mind, even if you don't have a creative imagination. The ending was well rounded, but it possibly could have added what every one was doing in the end of the book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    There's a reason why this was on the Best Seller list for almost 4 years...

    John Berendt has put together a series of anecdotes of quirky characters in Savannah, Georgia -- and the city basically becomes a character all on its own. As much as I loved "City of Falling Angels," there is a reason that "Midnight" was on the Best Seller list for almost 4 years -- it's amazing, hilarious, touchy, and quirky! I laughed out loud so many times throughout this, reading the anecdotes of characters that the author puts together over a series of 8 years that he lived between New York City and Savannah, Georgia -- the trial of Jim Williams, fascinating and hidden with secrets, is not the crux of the book, as the movie displayed it. The trial is a key part, however it truly is about 40% of the book, with the remainder about the life and the people of Savannah. And as much as I love Clint Eastwood's movies -- the movie did not do John Berendt's book justice at all. Read the book only -- it is absolutely amazing!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    more from this reviewer

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    You couldn't make this stuff up!

    I became so engrossed with this tale, town, characters and plot and felt as though I was a part of it all. Berendt's rich descriptions of each character and their contrasts and intertwining is brilliant. It's a book you swear you can smell, taste, hear and have to peer out your window once in awhile to make sure you are not living on one of Savannah's beautiful squares.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2001

    An intriguing book that keeps you reading

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil provided an insight to Savannah Georgia that made you want to go and visit, to see if you might meet some of the people in the book and also to see if Savannah was really as beautiful and full of snobby people as the author John Berendt portrayed. Mr. Berendt also does a good job of making his characters come to life. They aren't just words on a page; they are actual people interacting in the story. There are parts when you think that the characters will jump off the page and invite you to a party or convict you of being an accomplice to murder. The beginning of the book provides a lot of background information to the people of Savannah and the town in general. You also find out a lot about the different characters such as where they live, what they do for a living, and the little mysteries that surround each character. In the second part of the book you learn that the main character, Jim Williams, has murdered his helper Danny Hansford. The rest of the book is spent going through the four trails that Jim has before he finally has his name cleared. The last part of the book also shows how the town reacts to Jim and each other after they found out what has happened. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a good book if you like a lot if background information and insight into a place. It is easy reading and intriguing; it makes you think about the friends and neighbors that you have and the life they might lead behind your back.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    Abridged "Midnight..." Disappointing

    I concur with another reviewer here that the Abridged version of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" was a disappointment. So much of the story was glossed over with broad summaries of plot events, a goodly portion of the tension and detail that make a story engrossing apparently fell on the cutting room floor. And as previously noted elsewhere, there's an additional disk featuring the author patting himself on the back, a dubious bonus that could have been used instead for the novel.

    I used this experience to ensure I only purchase unabridged novels in the future.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hopefully the Movie Will Be Better

    I found Midnight in the Garden of God and Evil to be somewhat of a good read. There were parts in the story that were very interesting but mostly it was a treatise of southern life which I already am aware of. This book may be more interesting to people who don't live in small southern cities like Savannah. I am looking forward to seeing how the movie by the same name is compared to the book. If you're looking for a good southern crime drama stick with John Grisham.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    More Exciting than the Movie

    This is a great page-turning book - not necessarily stimulating or thought provoking, but very enthralling and well written. The approach is unique, similar to something out of the "true crime" genre, but more than mere reporting. The author's journalistic attention to detail is essential to the drama, with some added touch relating personal experiences and interactions with the principal characters. Again, the approach was very unique, well-written, and quite entertaining. The City of Savannah can thank this book's success for putting it back onto the tourists' map. The author's follow-up didn't do as well, partly because Savannah is much more accessible to the American audience than an aristocratic city in Europe. Lastly, I saw the movie after reading the book, and I found the movie to be boring compared to the book!! Read the book, skip the movie, and visit Savannah!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What took me so long to read this

    I remember when this book was published and all the positive publicity. I do not normally read non-fiction. This was beautifully written, a pure pleasure to read. The cast of characters was truly incredible and I would need to remind myself this is real. If you have not read this yet, don't hesitate yo give this book a try.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Good story

    Good southern story. Read it for free from your local library ;)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    I Do Declare...this was a great book

    I thought this was an excellent read. The background on the characters was quite entertaining. The whole trial process seemed to wrap up pretty quickly, but I think that kept the book from dragging too much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Moonscar

    Hello?

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is not just good but Great!

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Yvette Brink The novel I chose to review was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt; published by Vintage Books, has 386 pages, and is $14 for paperback. I could not stop reading this non-fiction true crime murder mystery novel because of the way that John Berendt draws you into the lives of these Savannahians. Even casual readers will find themselves consumed by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil because of its great detail and interesting characters. What I found the most interesting about this novel is that it is based on true events and real characters from Savannah, Georgia. The story of how John Berendt became involved in these events seems to me, meant to be. In Chapter 2, Berendt describes how he ended up going to savannah. He writes: I had seen it in a newspaper ad for supersaver airfares from New York to cities all across America. As I recall, the veal-and-radicchio entrée cost as much as a flight from New York to Louisville or any of six equidistant cities¿A week later I passed up the veal and radicchio and flew to New Orleans¿After that, every five or six weeks I took advantage of the newly deregulated airfares and flew out of New York in the company of a small group of friends interested in a change of scene. One of those weekend jaunts took us to Charleston, South Carolina¿On Sunday, my traveling companions went back to New York, but I stayed on in Charleston. I had decided to drive down to Savannah, spend the night and fly back to New York from there. (24-27) Fortunately John stays on in Savannah for more than one night. He actually ends up staying in Savannah off and on for more than eight years following the characters and the specific event that involves one of Savannah¿s most prominent society figures. John Berendt does an excellent job of introducing the characters of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Berendt splits the novel up into two parts. The first part consists of an introduction to the people of Savannah. The second part consists of a highly interesting murder mystery involving one of the main characters. In the first part of the novel, each chapter reads as an individual story. `A Walking Streak of Sex¿, `The Sentimental Gentleman¿ and `The Grand Empress of Savannah¿ are just an example of the interesting titles given to the stories of the unique characters of this novel. `The Grand Empress of Savannah¿ is about Chablis, an African-American drag queen with lots of attitude. In `A Walking Streak of Sex¿ you are introduced to Danny Hansford, a twenty-two year old who is a pothead who likes to live life a little dangerously by driving his Camaro recklessly. The second part of Midnight revolves around the murder mystery that takes place between two characters while John Berendt is visiting Savannah. Berendt takes you along for the ride as you try to figure out if the death of one of the characters is a result of murder or self-defense. You sit in on the court case and witness the comically complex and political trial of the accused murderer. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is definitely worth your time. It is great entertainment and hard to put down. I recommend it all readers because it is so easy flowing and fast paced. I had my friend, who is not a big fan of reading anything but magazines, read it and he absolutely loved it. I could not find any other books written by John Berendt but I found out that he mainly does editing for New York magazine and is a columnist for Esquire. John Berendt does such a wonderful job portraying the events of this story that it would be a shame if he weren¿t in the works of another novel. With characters as interesting as those in Midnight, I don¿t see how you could not enjoy reading this novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2001

    I COULD NOT PUT THIS ONE DOWN

    This book was a very enjoyable book for me to read. I have visited Savannah and I think that made it even more interesting. I was not very interested in reading it because I don't like to read storylines that involve murder. But this book is so different. It told about not only the court case but about the city and it's unique and sometimes quirkey townpeople. I saw the movie and it was okay. But it does not compare to the book. Once I started this book I found it hard to put down. I cannot think of anyother book I have read that compares to this one. I feel like this book will appeal to a vary wide group of readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Rtdyuvgcbdgdg tdh .tu

    Xv

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  • Posted January 2, 2014

    Intriguing non-fiction mystery with very colorful characters. Wo

    Intriguing non-fiction mystery with very colorful characters. Worth the read.

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  • Posted December 28, 2013

    amazing story since it is a true account

    Enjoyed all the characters, truly a unique collection of people. Seen the movie a few times so I had to read the book. A great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Awesome

    Outstanding! I was n Savannah, GA, when the movie was being made so as I read the book the author's discriptions placed me right there!

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