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Publisher's Summary

Author Joseph Boyden makes his literary debut with this profound and moving Today’s Book Club pick that contemplates the lasting traumas of war.

Cree Indians and best-friends Xavier and Elijah enlist in the Canadian Army in 1915, eager to become heroes. Seasoned hunters, the men become expert snipers, but their horrifying experiences serving in World War I will leave devastating impressions on each man’s life.

©2005 Joseph Boyden (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

What the critics say

"Not for the squeamish reader, this is a powerful novel that takes a new angle on a popular subject, 'the war to end all wars'." (Amazon.com review)
“Friendship is riven with resentment and war is stripped of glory in this remarkable, wrenching novel, the work of a gifted storyteller.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-10-12

thoroughly enjoyable

I found this book thoroughly engaging and moving. A wonderful work of prose that I would recommend to all.

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  • Overall
  • Kevin
  • 2010-08-19

What a book

Gripping tale of war and friendship. Excellent construction, very well narrated. I really recommend this book, loved it. It will bring you to tears.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael M
  • 2015-11-13

Beautifully Painful

This is my second Joseph Boyden story. the first was 'The Orenda'. Joseph has a powerful gift for drawing his audience deeply into the lives, feelings, triumphs and struggles of his characters. In each story I have been enthralled, educated, saddened and amazed. But above all I have been fully engaged in and thankful for such beautiful and powerful stories.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lynda
  • 2011-01-30

Wow - Great Listen, Powerful Story

You must read this book before you read Through Black Spruce. The story is incredible and you will not be disappointed. I loved that there was a male and female reader. Thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • newmoon
  • 2017-01-01

What a great listen.

Heart rending but ultimately hopeful. The characters beautifully realized, setting vivid. Fantastic narration. I will listen again, but first I must rush on to Through Black Spruce.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara Randall
  • 2015-02-21

A true Canadian Writer to be proud of.

The writing and reading make it one of those books you can't leave until it's done. Then the book hangover as you don't want to let go of these characters, these words, for awhile, as they stay close to you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 2013-07-16

Joseph Boyden, Please Write Some More

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I recommend this book to all of my friends who like to read literary fiction. It has a good blend of storyline, character and history.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Loved both of the main characters and the shift between the perspectives.

Have you listened to any of Ruth Ann Phimister’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not sure.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were many emotional (and funny) moments in this book. The first one that struck me was the aunt's trip to the train station to pick up the friend of her dead nephew when he returned from war. This is a story about healing and the power one person can have to keep another one going.

Any additional comments?

Everyone I know who has read this book has loved it!<br/>

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Charlie
  • 2011-12-20

Not Bad

The author writes well and the story is interesting. Boyden takes us on a vivid journey into the lives of three Cree Canadians as they collide with the first world war. He writes very well and overall I found the story intriguing, yet at times disturbing.

The author and narrator apparently took painstaking efforts to learn how to properly pronounce the Cree words in the story. They did not however bother to learn how Canadians pronounce the word 'lieutenant' - which is rather jarring every time it comes up.

There is a fair amount of drug use (morphine) in the story and it is described in detail. At times I wanted to tell the author, "Okay I get it, he's addicted to morphine, let's move on."

I was a little disappointed with the ending.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie Roe
  • 2012-04-25

Amazing story. I couldn't stop listening

I cannot imagine not listening to this story. The reader was incredible. I truly felt like I was listening him to tell his story. He sounded like he was a Cree Indian which greatly enhanced the listening experience. The author did a wonderful job of telling a difficult story. I will remember this story for a long time.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • BearheartRaven
  • 2017-01-08

A bridge between worlds

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The Anishinaabe perspective of WWI and the continuation of the world they came from to the world they experienced was a powerful lesson in how our culture and ancestry creates the world we live in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim
  • 2016-10-28

Literary Genius

Great story, gripping and tender. Narration makes the story believeable and very entertaining. loved it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful