The Land Breakers

Overview

Harper Lee says, "John Ehle's meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes 'The Land Breakers' an exciting example of masterful storytelling. He is our foremost writer of historical fiction." Robert Morgan, author of Oprah pick 'Gap Creek,' says 'The Land Breakers' is a "complex, compelling story of settlement and discovery, it introduced readers to the Blue Ridge past, to explorers, families, the land. The land that is broken is itself a major, unforgettable character in this vivid, memorable ...
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The Land Breakers

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This item will be available on November 4, 2014.
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Overview

Harper Lee says, "John Ehle's meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes 'The Land Breakers' an exciting example of masterful storytelling. He is our foremost writer of historical fiction." Robert Morgan, author of Oprah pick 'Gap Creek,' says 'The Land Breakers' is a "complex, compelling story of settlement and discovery, it introduced readers to the Blue Ridge past, to explorers, families, the land. The land that is broken is itself a major, unforgettable character in this vivid, memorable story." Set in 1779, 'The Land Breakers' follows young Mooney and Imy Wright deep into the Appalachian wilderness where they become the first white pioneers to settle deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina. "What ensues during these six years is an often violent struggle: first merely to survive and then to create a viable settlement, some human community that might last. For in this stark mountain fastness, each of the important characters-male and female alike-is seeking two things: family and community." (from the Afterword, by Terry Roberts) First published in 1964 by Harper & Row, 'The Land Breakers' returns to print as a Press 53 Classic. As Hal Borland wrote, in his 1964 New York Times review, "In a time of dreamless heroes, of long-winded whimpers that pass as novels, The Land Breakers has a rare degree of greatness."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Land Breakers is a great American novel, way beyond anything most New York literary icons have produced.” —Michael Ondaatje, from “My Book of the Decade,” The Globe and Mail
 
The Land Breakers is one of the best recreations of our pioneer past that we have had in years, honest and compassionate, rich and true...In a time of dreamless heroes, of long-winded whimpers that pass as novels, The Land Breakers has a rare degree of greatness.” —The New York Times
 
“John Ehle’s meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes The Land Breakers an exciting example of masterful storytelling. He is our foremost writer of historical fiction.” —Harper Lee
 
“It’s what every novel should aspire to be: Red-blooded, broad, thrilling, and full of life and wisdom.” —Pinckney Benedict
 
“Sometimes raw as winter wind, sometimes gentle as a summer night, Ehle has made his land breakers a believable group of individuals driven by ancient hungers into a new country.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“Some of the best portrayal of eighteenth-century mountain settlement I’ve ever read. The book reads like living history, and I can only wonder how I’ve missed this author all these years...I could recommend this book simply for Ehle’s vivid portrayal of the purely practical struggle of pioneering life, both its hardships and its frolics, its triumphs and tragedies—but it’s also a riveting story, with scenes that will remain alive for me for a long time...more harrowing than anything I’ve read in a long while.” —Lori Benton
 
“It is raw and full of fine detail and fresh language, even if it is the language of doing, not reflecting, and man’s true nature remains as opaque and violent as nature...In addition to being a damn good story, The Land Breakers is, for me, like finding the source material for countless articles in Mother Earth News.” —Don Silver
 
“Ehle’s people, all of them, are splendid...Ehle’s prose is exactly suited to his subject and setting. His people talk the way North Carolina mountain people talk; there is nothing stilted or artificial about his dialogue. And his descriptive prose is quite marvelous; it has an air of country formality and mannerliness that is thoroughly distinctive.” —The Washington Post

“Ehle is as scrupulous and effective in bringing to vigorous life the minutiae of daily events, the physical ordeal of mud-stained animals and men blasting, cutting and bleeding the mountainside, the sensuous lust and glow of a woman’s body in the firelight, the delicate tracery of a mountain fern by a rushing brook, as he is in shaping his tale to a larger legend of man’s spiritual quest, of building a road to Xanadu and to Zion.” —Chicago Tribune
 
The Land Breakers broke fresh ground and opened a new world for Southern and Appalachian fiction when it was first published in 1964. A complex, compelling story of settlement and discovery, it introduced readers to Blue Ridge past, to explorers, families, the land. The land that is broken is itself a major, unforgettable character in this vivid, memorable story. Now, four decades later, John Ehle’s novel still delights, still inspires, still leaves its spell on the reader.” —Robert Morgan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590177631
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Series: NYRB Classics Series
  • Pages: 408

Meet the Author

Although he considers himself primarily a writer, John Ehle has made profound contributions to North Carolina in a variety of programs designed to help people reach their potential. Referring to Ehle, former governor Terry Sanford stated, "If I were to write a guidebook for new governors, one of my main suggestions would be that he find a novelist and put him on his staff."

The oldest of five children, John Ehle was raised in Asheville, where his father was an insurance company division director. Both of his parents were born in the Appalachian Mountains, his mother from four generations of mountain people. It is from that branch of his family that Ehle claims to inherit his gift for storytelling. Following service in World War II as a rifleman, Ehle earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also taught for ten years. As a high school student competing in debate tournaments, he became interested in writing and says that he still writes works that are meant to be read aloud. During his student years at Chapel Hill, he wrote plays for the American Adventure series on NBC Radio.

John Ehle is the author of seventeen books, eleven fiction and six nonfiction. While his fiction is always based in his familiar North Carolina mountains, his nonfiction treats such varied subjects as the Civil Rights struggle, the trials of the Cherokee Nation, French wine and cheese, and Irish whiskey. His books have been translated into French, German, Swedish, Czech, Spanish, Japanese and other languages. Filled with a respectful awareness of the drama of everyday lives, his books are written in a style that critics say "portrays without frills or frippery . . . not the glories of the day but the hardships." His respect for the dignity of his subjects, fictional and non-fictional, is a common thread running through all of his work.

In his public work as well, John Ehle celebrates human dignity and the significance of personal freedom. As a member of Governor Terry Sanford's staff in the 1960s, he was the "idea man" and an integral part of the creation of the North Carolina School of the Arts and the Governor's School. He went on to serve with the White House Group for Domestic Affairs and on the First National Council of the Humanities.

When asked by Wilma Dykeman in an interview which of his writings was his favorite, he replied, "The next one. That's always the answer, isn't it?"
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