The Hearts of Men

The Hearts of Men

by Nickolas Butler


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The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler

"[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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062469694
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/26/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 195,929
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin—Madison as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is the author of the internationally bestselling and prizewinning novel Shotgun Lovesongs and the acclaimed short story collection Beneath the Bonfire. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and their two children.

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The Hearts of Men 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I am a female attempting to write a review for a book that is apparently for men and about men. Specifically about bullies, group bullying mentality and their victims. Primarily in this book it starts and ends in Boy Scout camps about the age of nine. It continued on as those boys grew into "men" with the same maturity as a nine year old I read the entire book, but I had a hard time getting through it. I found it to be very disturbing and depressing. I did not like most of the characters. Most were vicious and cruel to each other and to their wives and mothers and women in general. The victims were still victims even in adulthood. Overall the feeling in the book was isolation and loneliness
Anonymous 8 months ago
Great characters, deeply emotional. Not the Boy Scouts that I recall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time putting this book down. The book provides an interesting lens for many of the social issues that impacted American society over the past three generations. Interestingly, the author speaks to us through the experiences of two young men in the first two sections of the book. Then, rather unexpectedly, the book concludes by focusing on the feelings and experiences of a female protagonist. Timely writing in keeping with the “me too” movement.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler is a highly recommended epic covering six decades and three generations of (mostly) men with ties to the Boy Scouts' Camp Chippewa in Wisconsin. Part one opens in 1962, 13-year-old Nelson Doughty is the Bugler for the camp. He is a social outcast, overachiever, and victim of an abusive father. This summer marks several changes for Nelson's life. He has one older boy, Jonathan Quick, who sometimes defends Nelson, but this time Nelson learns about the limits of that connection. Wilbur Whiteside, owner and Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, lets Nelson know how much he appreciates him and sees great character in him. This summer marks a betrayal by Jonathan and a saving action by Whiteside. In Part two it is 1996 and the night before wealthy 49-year-old Jonathan Quick is taking his 16-year-old son, Trevor, to Camp Chippewa, they are meeting his friend Nelson, for dinner. Nelson, after attending West Point and serving in Vietnam, worked odd jobs until he took over Camp Chippewa, which he inherited from Whiteside. This night sees a drunken Jonathan introducing his son to his mistress and strippers, in an attempt to keep his son from becoming serious with his girlfriend Rachel, and taunting Nelson. Part three is set in 2019 when Rachel brings her and Trevor's son and Jonathan's grandson, Thomas, to the camp. Nelson is now 70-years-old and ready to retire. This time something shocking happens that demonstrates Nelson's bravery and character. Part four is the conclusion set in 2022. This is a novel that explores bravery, loyalty, and friendship as it questions what it means to be a man and a role model to young men. It also looks at the ugly side of life and families as they face challenges that they will either overcome or fail. In this way it also explores good and evil. The main characters, until Rachel at the end, are all men and this is a very masculine novel in some ways. The characters are all flawed, struggling with life and trying to find their place in the world. They are well developed and memorable. The writing is in The Hearts of Men is admirable. Butler's prose is full of careful insights and the plot is well-paced in this character-driven novel. Each part of the novel is separated by decades in the future, you will have to adjust to the characters now older and with more life experiences behind them as they negotiate the new challenges set before them. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.