Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Son

The Son

4.1 100
by Philipp Meyer, Will Patton (Read by), Kate Mulgrew (Read by), Scott Shepherd (Read by), Clifton, Jr. Collins Jr. (Read by)

See All Formats & Editions

Soon to be a TV Series on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan and co-written by Philipp Meyer.

The critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling epic, a saga of land, blood, and power that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Part epic of Texas, part classic


Soon to be a TV Series on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan and co-written by Philipp Meyer.

The critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling epic, a saga of land, blood, and power that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries.

Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive. Despite their torture and cruelty, Eli—against all odds—adapts to life with the Comanche, learning their ways, their language, taking on a new name, finding a place as the adopted son of the chief of the band, and fighting their wars against not only other Indians, but white men, too-complicating his sense of loyalty, his promised vengeance, and his very understanding of self. But when disease, starvation, and westward expansion finally decimate the Comanche, Eli is left alone in a world in which he belongs nowhere, neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild.

Deftly interweaving Eli’s story with those of his son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, JA, The Son deftly explores the legacy of Eli’s ruthlessness, his drive to power, and his life-long status as an outsider, even as the McCullough family rises to become one of the richest in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon-an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Ron Charles
What a pleasure it is…to see Meyer confirm all that initial enthusiasm [for American Rust] with a second book that's even more ambitious, even more deeply rooted in our troublesome economic and cultural history. With its vast scope—stretching from pre-Civil War cowboys to post-9/11 immigrants—The Son makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced. Here is the tale of the United States written in blood across the Texas plains, a 200-year cycle of theft and murder that shreds any golden myths of civilized development.
The New York Times Book Review - Will Blythe
Like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, it allows the past its otherness and its characters the dignity of blundering through the world as it was. These are not heroic transplants from the present, disguised in buckskin and loincloths. They are unrepentant, greedy, often homicidal lost souls, blindly groping their way through the 19th and 20th centuries, from the ordeals of the frontier to the more recent absurdities of celebrity culture…By the novel's end, Philipp Meyer has demonstrated that he can write a potboiler of the first rank, aswirl with pulpy pleasures: impossible love affairs, illicit sex, strife between fathers and sons, the unhappiness of the rich, the corruptions of power…But these crowd-pleasing qualities should not distract from Meyer's Spenglerian treatment of the American empire, Southwestern branch. Only in the greatest of historical novels do we come to feel both the distance of the past and our own likely complicity in the sins of a former age, had we been a part of it. To that rank, we now add The Son.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
The greatest things about The Son are its scope and ambition…It's an enveloping, extremely well-wrought, popular novel with passionate convictions about the people, places and battles that it conjures.
Publishers Weekly
In chronicling the settlement and scourge of the American West, from the Comanche raids of the mid-19th century into the present era, Meyer never falters. The sweeping history of the McCullough dynasty unfolds across generations and through alternating remembrances of three masterfully drawn characters: Eli, the first white male born in a newly founded Texas, captured and raised by Comanche Indians; Eli’s self-sacrificing son, Peter, who shuns everything his power-hungry father represents; and Jeannie, Eli’s fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who inherits the family fortune. Chapters detailing Peter’s affair with a Mexican neighbor and his moral struggle with his ancestors’ bloody legacy are keenly balanced alongside those involving Jeannie’s firm yet impassive rule over the modern McCullough estate. But it’s the engrossing, sometimes grotesque descriptions of Eli’s early tribal years—scalpings, mating rituals, and a fascinating few pages about the use of buffalo body parts that recalls Moby Dick—that are the stuff of Great American Literature. Like all destined classics, Meyer’s second novel (after American Rust) speaks volumes about humanity—our insatiable greed, our inherent frailty, the endless cycle of conquer or be conquered. So, too, his characters’ successes and failures serve as a constant reminder: “There is nothing we will not have mastered, except, of course, ourselves.” Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (June)
Kevin Powers
“The story of our founding mythology; of the men and women who tore a country from the wilderness and the price paid in blood by subsequent generations. An epic in the tradition of Faulkner and Melville, this is the work of a writer at the height of his power.”
Huffington Post
“A novel that is an epic in the truest sense of the word: massive in scope, replete with transformations in fortune and fate, and drenched in the blood of war.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Meyer’s massive Texas saga is perhaps the best Indian captive story ever written. . . [Meyer’s] tale is best compared to Giant. Little Big Man and Lonesome Dove also come to mind...”
Kate Atkinson
“One word—stunning. The Son stands fair to hold its own in the canon of Great American Novels. A book that for once really does deserve to be called a masterpiece.”
Richard Ford
“Meyer is an impressive and multi-talented story-teller in the old, good sense--the kind that makes me hang on for whatever the next chapter will hold.”
Charles Frazier
“A remarkable, beautifully crafted novel. Meyer tackles large movements of American history and culture yet also delivers page-turning delights of story and character.”
Tea Obreht
Philipp Meyer redrafts humanity’s oldest questions and deepest obsessions into something so raw and dazzling and brutal and real, The Son should come with its own soundtrack
Karen Russell
“A true American epic, full of brutal poetry and breathtaking panoramas. Meyer’s characters repeatedly bear witness to the collision of human greed, savagery, and desire with the mute and indomitable Plains landscape. Meyer is a writer of tremendous talent, compassion and ambition.—The Son is a staggering achievement.”
Chris Cleave
“An epic, heroic, hallucinatory work of art in which wry modern tropes and savage Western lore hunt together on an endless prairie... a horribly tragic, disturbingly comic and fiercely passionate masterpiece of storytelling.”
“This is the book you want to read this summer... Every facet of Meyer’s world—scent and sight and sensation—has weight and heft... Meyer’s dream is a nightmare in which blood seeks power. It’s also un-put-down-able.”
“An old-fashioned family saga set against the birth of Texas and the modern West, this is a riveting slow burn of love, power, and a legacy of violence spanning generations. Meyer is a writer of vast ambition and talent, and he has created nothing less than an American epic.”
Washington Post
“With its vast scope, The Son makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced... an extraordinary orchestration of American history.
Wall Street Journal
“There is an extravagant quantity of birth, death and bitter passion in Philipp Meyer’s grand and engrossing Texas saga.”
Los Angeles Times
“Philipp Meyer offers a tale that spans generations and, in its own way, encapsulates the history of the state itself.”
USA Today (4 Stars)
“As bold, ambitious and brutal as its subject: the rise of Texas as seen through the tortured history of one family. At 561 pages, The Son is a demanding read... But by the end, Meyer ties it together and not too neatly. Tougher-than-tough Eli McCullough would respect that.”
“One of the most solid, unsparing pieces of American historical fiction to come out this century... a brilliant chronicle of Texas... stunning, raw and epic... The Son is vast, brave and, finally, unstoppable.”
New York Times
“The greatest things about The Son are its scope and ambition. . . It’s an enveloping, extremely well-wrought, popular novel with passionate convictions about the people, places and battles that it conjures.”
New York Times Book Review
“An epic of the American Southwest, Meyer’s masterly second novel follows several generations of a Texas ranching and oil dynasty through the 19th and 20th centuries…”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“One of those books that remind you how totally absorbing a novel can be... the work of an uncommonly visionary and skillful writer with a superb sense of pacing... a beautiful, violent and frequently heartbreaking book, but it is not without a sense of fun.”
Austin Chronicle
“A vivid, unflinching look at the peoples who struggled to conquer Texas, and one another. . . an aerial view of Texas, in which hidden elements of a huge, breathtaking landscape are suddenly made clear.”
Boston Globe
“Meyer’s tale is vast, volcanic, prodigious in violence, intermittently hard to fathom, not infrequently hard to stomach, and difficult to ignore.”
CNN Online (Hot Reads for June)
“Ambitious readers who take their prose seriously should grab a copy of The Son, a stunning work of historical fiction by Philipp Meyer. Scores of critics are gushing over the book calling it epic, one of the best of the year, even an American classic.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Son is positioned to seduce readers who swooned for Lonesome Dove and 2011’s briskly selling Comanche history, Empire of the Summer Moon.
Entertainment Weekly (Grade A Review)
“It may not be the Great American Novel, but it certainly is a damn good one.”
Dallas Observer
“One of the best books I’ve ever read . . . Incredibly ambitious and rich, and it reminds me of Blood Meridian and As I Lay Dying. Faulkner and McCarthy fans should definitely check it out.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Son drives home one hard and fascinating truth about American life: None of us belong here. We just have it on loan until the next civilization comes around.”
Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“Mr. Meyer’s version of how a white child grows into the culture of a Comanche warrior is so vivid, violent, heartless and tender at the same time that I often put the book down to recover from the scenes, then picked it up, eager to follow the narrative.”
Dayton Daily News
“Meyer has penned another masterpiece of American fiction. Read it and see if you don’t agree.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Son is a true American original. Meyer describes the Comanche as ‘riding to haul hell out of its shuck.’ It’s an apt description of how it feels to read this exciting, far-reaching book.”
Eagle (Bryan-College Station
“. . . a raw and gritty novel not for the faint-hearted.”
Chapter 16
“. . . Involving and moving novel. Meyer’s work deserves its place among the great epics of Texas; even more, his vision of the state will change the way readers understand and judge its history and its folklore.”
USA Today
“Philipp Meyer’s epic novel begins in 1849, when Eli McCullough, 13, is kidnapped by Comanches, and ends in 2012 as Eli’s rich and powerful great-granddaughter is dying. USA TODAY says **** out of four.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“In gorgeously gritty prose, this epic novel follows three generations of the McCullough family - as wild as the untamed Texas frontier where they’ve settled - in their ruthless quest for power. (Ten Titles To Pick Up Now)”
Entertainment Weekly Review
“It may not be the Great American Novel, but it certainly is a damn good one.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“In gorgeously gritty prose, this epic novel follows three generations of the McCullough family - as wild as the untamed Texas frontier where they’ve settled - in their ruthless quest for power. (Ten Titles To Pick Up Now)”
Financial Times
“. . . Meyer’s brilliant second novel . . . The writing is strong - ‘riders were suddening out of the trees’ - and rich with detail. . . Just like Meyer’s riveting 2009 debut American Rust, this is a wonderful novel.”
Men's Journal
“This is an endlessly absorbing book, a page-turner with serious moral scope, both full of feeling and ruthlessly engineered, as great books are, to get us closer to the truth about ourselves.”
Santa Fe New Mexican
The Son clearly demonstrates how a well-written, thoroughly researched work of fiction illuminates the past. . . ‘No land was ever acquired honestly in the history of the earth,’ Eli maintains. An outstanding novelist has tilled this fertile ground.”
“Critics have compared the writing to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove or any of Cormac McCarthy’s novels. Anyone who likes a Western saga will find plenty to savor in this latest work from a distinguished spinner of Western yarns.”
Library Journal
Eli McCullough, the first male child born in the Republic of Texas, is kidnapped at age 13 by Comanches, and from then on his life becomes a study in conflict. During three years of living with the Indians, he wins their respect and is thought of as an upcoming chief. But by the time he turns 16, having mastered the art of scalping, he is set free. Forever restless, he becomes a Texas Ranger, a cattle rancher, and, later, a colonel in the Civil War. His son, Pete, is cut from a different cloth and rebels against his family's history of violence and anti-Mexican racism. His rebellion includes the love of a Mexican woman. Pete's daughter, Jeanne Anne, struggles to be taken seriously as a rancher and oil tycoon. The broody McCulloughs gain in wealth but often pay dearly. A strain of misunderstood lonesomeness hounds each generation. VERDICT Treading on similar ground to James Michener, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy, Guggenheim Fellowship-winner Meyer (American Rust) brings the bloody, racially fraught history of Texas to life. Call it a family saga or an epic, this novel is a violent and harrowing read. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/12.]—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P. L., Houston
Kirkus Reviews
The sins of the fathers are always visited upon the sons--and in Meyer's sweeping, absorbing epic, there are plenty of them. As the first child born in the new Republic of Texas, or so it's said, Eli McCullough fills big shoes. Yet he stands in the shadow of his older brother, who reads books and has a strange attachment to his sister--one that will be cut short when Comanches descend and, in a spree worthy of Cormac McCarthy, put an end to all that: "My mother had not made a sound since I woke up, even with the arrows sticking out of her, but she began to scream and cry when they scalped her, and I saw another Indian walking up to her with my father's broadax." Years living in semicaptivity with the Comanches teaches Eli a thing or two about setting goals and sticking to them, as well as a ruthlessness that will come in handy when he begins to build a cattle empire and accrue political power. His son is less deft; caught up in the cross-border upheaval of the Mexican Revolution, he finds himself out of place and adrift ("You're a big man," says one ranch hand to him, "and I don't see why you act like such a small one") and certainly no favorite of his ever-demanding father. Meyer's sophomore novel deftly opens with entwined, impending deaths across generations, joining tangled stories over three centuries, the contested line between the U.S. and Mexico, and very different cultures; if sometimes it hints of McMurtry's Lonesome Dove and Ferber's Giant, it more often partakes of the somber, doomed certainty of Faulkner: "There had been one grandson everyone liked, who had loved the ranch and been expected to take it over, but he had drowned in three feet of water." An expertly written tale of ancient crimes, with every period detail--and every detail, period--just right.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Philipp Meyer is the author of the critically lauded novel American Rust, winner of the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was an Economist Book of the Year, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year, and a New York Times Notable Book. He is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James Michener Fellow. A native of Baltimore, he now lives mostly in Texas.

Kate Mulgrew has performed on stage in Shaw, Shakespeare, and Tennessee Williams; she has starred in such films as A Stranger is Watching and Round Numbers; she has also done considerable work on television.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Son 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 100 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Philipp Meyer really shows off his writing chops with The Son. It tells the story of a boy who loses his family in an attack by Indians only to find himself the adopted son of the Indian tribe. He ends up being neither Indian or White Man, but something in between. The writer takes a unique approach by focusing on one character. I was surprised how well this worked. This is an excellent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't expecting Larry McMurtry but I was really looking forward to another Texas saga. I've just finished reading "The Son" a multigenerational 560 page story of a Texas ranching/oil family. Here's my recommendation - don't waste your time. "The Son" was written by Philipp Meyer, a Baltimore Yankee who recently studied at UT Austin on a James Michener scholarship. Unfortunately, Meyer doesn't really like Texas, an opinion that is slowly and slyly revealed in his novel. Meyer doesn't ridicule so much as he constantly picks, prods and pokes at everything Texan. The book starts with both the beginning and end; it finishes with both the beginning and end - a technique that is confusing at best and annoying at worst. In between there is a great deal of gratuitous sex, uneven dialogue and shallow character development. I could almost forgive the publisher for the too many typos, but then - can't they hire better proofreaders? I cannot forgive Meyer's historical inaccuracies - in language, geography and Indian ways - even in wild life, food and firearms. These errors are simply the result of laziness or incompetence. Either way they demonstrate a significant disrespect for his readers. For a more thorough review, please google Dallas Morning News book reviews and read Clay Reynolds' assessment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Michener comes to mind when reading the first few chapters of this book. The format of the book, made it appealing with totally focusing on one character at a time. This gave more attention to the development of each character and helped with the flow of the storyline. This book can not be read in one sitting. A great rainy week book.
TropicalHouston More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best novels I've read in a long time. It was hard to put this book down. Being a native Texan, I love Texas history and Philipp Meyer did an excellant job writing about the first Texans, German settlers, Comanches, Mexicans, cattle ranchers, and oilmen. The physical descriptions of the areas the Comanches traveled were very accurate and easy to visualize. It was such a well written book and like previous reviewers, it was easy to follow the develpment of each character. I didn't want it to end. Now I'm looking forward to reading Meyer's first novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Philipp Meyer book and I really enjoyed it. I thought the bigger than life reputation of Texas was well represented in Meyer's writing. The characters were all very interesting and the plot was easy to follow. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I started it, I found it impossible to put this book down. Every chapter is a page turner. Two thumbs up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed The Son. I thought the writing was top notch. The characters were beautifully well developed. Five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tremendous achievement. I'm 150 pages into reading it a second time because it is the best book I read in the past year. Congratulations to Phillip for such beautiful prose and unforgettable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This really should have been three books.  The going back and forth between generations was not particularly interesting and got in the way of what I thought was the main story, the story of Eli who had been abducted by Comanches.  The comparisons betwen the different ways of life were very interesting, if not profound.  I would have liked there to have been  some editing and at least two or three books instead of  one .  The other stories felt like distractions.
Convict227 More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book - one of the better books that I have read in a while. The setting, voice, and movement of the novel make for a terrifc read. I thought the storyline was quite interesting, but was surprised to see from a previous comment that it is similar to a 1970's movie (based off a comic book) called Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman. Nevertheless, the book moves and the I found the characters believable and sympathized with all of them. This is a tough genre to write a novel and I tip my cap to Meyer for not only trying it, but mastering it as well. Kudos.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this novel...the structure, the voices, all of it.  But tonight I caught the Arthur Penn movie, Little Big Man, another novel I loved back in the day, and was struck by the similarity between the two story lines.  Too many similarities. Has anyone else noticed this?
choirgal04 More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but I honestly can't recommend this novel. Read it for book club -- a borrowed library copy (fortunately) but not in time for our meeting, when I was only about 250 pages along. The author's writing skill and his vividly drawn characters and settings were compelling enough to persuade me to finish the book anyway, I suppose to his credit. However, I eventually found all the major (& most of the minor) characters at least mildly, if not profoundly, unlikeable. The conclusion -- despite an intriguing, albeit far-fetched twist near the end (no spoilers here) -- just left a discouraging, unpleasant aftertaste for me. This was keenly disappointing, since I genuinely hoped that a satisfying ending would justify having endured 500+ pages riddled with jarringly graphic brutality, and more-than-slightly vulgar glimpses of "intimacy" that read something like the embellished letters a genitally-obsessed pre-teen boy might send in to a "men's magazine." No, I was not terribly distracted by the author's continually shifting time frames and points of view. Yes, I appreciated his considerably gifted storytelling ability. As for his highly touted, painstaking research, maybe not so much: the only item I was curious enough to double-check was the setting for roughly 2/3 of his story, Dimmitt County, TX, specifically the portions circa 1915, when the McCullough family supposedly became oil barons; my two-minute internet search revealed that it 's indeed a real place, however no oil was discovered there until the 1940's... True, this is fiction, it's an author's prerogative to use dramatic license, and it's an easy bit of disbelief for me to suspend; still, it leads me to wonder what other facts Mr. Meyer distorted in his "sweeping saga" of Texas, and why. Plus, his plot decisions overall seemed manipulated to build up hope for some kind of redemption, but for me at least, fell flat. Depressing. Again I wonder, why? Perhaps that was the author's intent -- to demonstrate the futility of hope in a society (or maybe humanity in general?) doomed to remain mired in our murderous, destructive, oppressive, relentless conquest of "the other"...? I can't tell; but whatever he was getting at, I didn't much enjoy it. Nothing uplifting here whatsoever. (And no, I'm not so unsophisticated a reader to expect or desire a tacked-on, roses-and-lollipops happy ending to every "serious" novel I pull off the shelf.) All this to say, in my personal opinion... talented writer, ultimately not worth my investment of time and trust. Two stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book drew me in. I liked the way the histories of the two main characters alternated and their stories developed. As their backgrounds were revealed the character development was logical. The author brought each character alive and made me care about them. Have moved this one to my favorite shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cannot put this book down. Fascinating story
pregnantat40 More than 1 year ago
A sublime rendering of terribly ugly people, places, and events in old Texas. Mesmerizing narrative that spares no details about the relationships of Texans, Cherokees, Mexicans and any number of people passing through and around the mid-1800s through the late 70's. Now I never, ever, ever want to go to Texas, but I suspect I would feel that way about any place Philip might have chosen to tell this type of story. More, more, more!!!
Anonymous 14 days ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
Started the AMC series, then bought the book. Wonderful, and good together.
krissysbookshelf 5 months ago
I thought The Son was great.. however there was just so much detail that it bogged down all the emotional scenes and made everything feel a little long between the character interaction that it stretches out and elongates everything that I felt could have been more summed up. It seemed as I read further through the book that it was an author trait to really vividly detail everything in the book which felt more like an environmental read than emotional one despite the emotional experiences being the main focus of this book. To sum up the emotional journey and the journey of the family The Son felt more like a collection of family stories that got passed down even though the reader gets to experience them from one event or another. These events sort of carve out in history who the family as time passes become and how those events kind of change who they are. Its actually an amazing book worthy of five stars I just rated the book three stars because as a reader I'm more of a character person myself. I down rated The Son because despite the emotional turmoil, the family and the large cast and how wonderfully it was written The Son felt like more of an environmental read that lacked the full development of emotional connections I prefer to have in stories like these. I wanted to care more about the characters, I wanted to care about who was who and how they were connected and what their story was except the author tended to maintain his focus on just one person instead of all of them. Maybe its a little too greedy of me, but I still highly recommend The Son to anyone who hasn't read it yet. The Son is a great book.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I started watching the mini series and read the book in between because a book is always better than the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the book..
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book has a big vision but is written on a small scale. The writing is dry and lacks the substance and weight to make this a great novel. The characters are are all underwritten being distant and unmoved by the events that take place around them. This book uses a great device in telling it's story through three different people and written from three peoples different POV but it all leads nowhere. This book is well written but it lacks the soul to make it a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great read. It's hard to put down once you start. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
impressed48 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago