Raintree County [NOOK Book]


Part Three Of Three Parts

In 1948, three young authors published first novels that indelibly changed the landscape of American letters...THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer, THE YOUNG LIONS by Irwin Shaw and RAINTREE COUNTY by Ross Lockridge, Jr. Whereas Mailer and Shaw went on to write many other novels, Lockridge died by his own hand at the age of 34 in that same fateful year.

This panoramic epic of the 19th century in Raintree County, ...

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Raintree County

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Part Three Of Three Parts

In 1948, three young authors published first novels that indelibly changed the landscape of American letters...THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer, THE YOUNG LIONS by Irwin Shaw and RAINTREE COUNTY by Ross Lockridge, Jr. Whereas Mailer and Shaw went on to write many other novels, Lockridge died by his own hand at the age of 34 in that same fateful year.

This panoramic epic of the 19th century in Raintree County, Indiana (particularly of the Civil War and its effects), was produced after six years of research, writing and revision. It continues to command attention and respect as a stylistically unique work of considerable force.

For the first time in paperback--the epic, great American novel about love, tragedy, and the American Dream. Told in a series of flashbacks, this is the story of John Wickliff Shawnessy, who grows up to be the epitome of Civil War-era America. Originally published in 1948.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An achievement of art and purpose, a cosmically brooding book full of significance and beauty."  —The New York Times

"[A] candidate for that mythical honor, the Great American Novel, Raintree County displays unflagging industry [and] a . . . magnificent vitality."  —Saturday Review

“No myth is more imposing than the Great American Novel; but if it is truly unattainable, I believe that Ross Lockridge made closer approach than any other writer has, before or since.”  —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"My favorite novel of all time is Raintree County. It's about American journalism, patriotism, and a star-crossed love affair a hundred years ago. Like the Bible, you can pick it up, read any page, and gain something. It's poetry. Forget the movie, if you saw it, the book is something entirely different."  —Edna Buchanan, author, You Only Die Twice and Cold Case Squad

“The powerful currents and depth of this great swollen river of a book remain irresistible. Raintree County doesn't have to be the great American novel to be an American classic and a classic expression of the American dream; a time and place in our history are made permanent in this book."  —Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

"Just how good is Raintree County? . . . Looking back at it, one is struck by the strength of its prose and the life of its characters. The Civil War section alone, well over 200 pages and the heart of the book, justifies the extravagant Great American Novel claims some critics have made for it. . . . Had Ross Lockridge, Jr. lived, he might well have changed the direction of American writing—for that, and nothing less, was his intention."  —Bruce Cook, Chicago Tribune

"A work that should rank with Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel as a landmark in American fiction."  —Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] extraordinary work . . . I have reread Raintree County at least once a year. It is a book that I, at least, have grown into, still grow into."  —Detroit News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569767368
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Series: Rediscovered Classics
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 1088
  • Sales rank: 205,544
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Ross Lockridge, Jr., was born in 1914 in Bloomington, Indiana. Lockridge committed suicide at the age of 33 in his hometown, two months after his only novel was published to great critical and popular acclaim. Herman Wouk is the bestselling author of The Caine MutinyDon't Stop the Carnival, War and Rememberance, and The Winds of War.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2007

    Glory to the Republic!

    'Raintree County' is considered the great American novel. A sweeping epic, it's certainly a contender for the title--rich in metaphor, both mystical and sexual, it's a tribute to both the national and personal 'Republic.' But at times it also reads like 'Forrest Gump Goes to the Civil War.' The hero is everywhere--with Sherman as he marches to the Sea, visited by Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln at the Soldier's Hospital, in the box near Lincoln's at Ford's Theater when the President is assassinated, in Philadelphia for the Centennial in 1876 and in Pittsburgh for the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. But despite this fact, and though it lacks the vivid characters and compelling narrative of 'Gone With The Wind,' it should be read by every lover of American literature--and of Americana itself.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Review by www.cymlowell.blogspot.com

    Upon publication in 1947, Raintree County was an instantaneous best-seller leading shortly to a major studio contract for a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. One of the Lockridge children, young Ross, was my classmate in elementary school at Elm Heights Elementary. He would share the details of the movie process and, as I recall now more than 55 years later, being charmed by the famous players in the movie when the family visited the sets. I could only have been 7 or 8 at the time (born in 1946) but the magic of living in the midst of a famous novelist and the wonder of a Hollywood film are vibrant memories.

    At the peak of professional success, Mr. Lockridge committed suicide in a garage. I recall being dumbfounded as a child. "Why would he kill himself?" I asked my mother. "He had achieved so much."

    From that time to this, I have always dreamed of being a writer. I have done non-fiction professional books for many years, and am only now into the fiction business. For some reason, the image of these questions has always crept into my mind when I have focused on the possibility of success as a fiction writer.
    "What would it be like to succeed? What did Ross Lockridge Jr. feel when his first and only novel achieved instantaneous critical and financial success, followed by a major league movie contract? What would drive him to end his life?

    In recent years, I have moved from writing fiction manuscripts and putting them on the shelf to seeking a route to commercial publication. As I began this journey, I wanted to go back and see if I could answer these questions of a lifetime. First, I read the biography of Mr. Lockridge written by his son Larry, Shade of the Raintree. Then I picked up Raintree County itself, a tome of some 1,060 pages in the edition that was given to me as a birthday present by my sweetheart.

    Raintree County is a masterpiece, obviously written in the hopes of becoming a Great American Novel. It traces the life and times of an absorbed young writer (John Wickcliff Shawnessy, a/k/a Johnny) from a rural county before, during, and after the Civil War. The central characters twist and turn through all of the pages as they age. The chronology of time switches back and forth, challenging the reader to keep all of the pieces in perspective. The characters include an elusive young lady whose nudity by the river and innocent frolic in a haystack reverberate through the story (Nell Gaither), a teacher and confessor (the Perfessor), a Southern belle who frolics with our hero one afternoon after too much cider and claims pregnancy, then becomes his first wife, an athletic arch-enemy who becomes a prosperous national businessman (Cash Carney), a competitor for the femme who becomes a U.S. Senator, and a cast of other characters that create the magic of the story.

    Like Gone With the Wind, Ulysses, and other sweeping stories, one gets to the end (when Johnny comes marching home from the War) wondering what the point of the story is. Johnny began with the hope, aspiration, and innocence of youth, seeking answer to the riddle of the naked woman in the post office. In the end, Johnny seems to be seeking to find what he has lost along the way, perhaps the answer to the riddle.

    The thoughtful framework of Raintree County, the life of its author, and the biography of his son seem to cry for a re-telling of the story in another generation. In short, Raintree County is the great America

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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