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The Hearts of Men (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


The Boy Scouts at Wisconsin's summer Camp Chippewa practice their knot tying every morning at reveille. The knot that they don't practice is the one that will bind generations of Chippewa's scouts to each other through wars and family upheaval.The cruelty of bully campers, the surprising loyalty of lightly made friends, the feckless absent fathers, the lonely heroism of soldiers and their mothers--the patterns repeat, each family generation sharing some of the blame, some of the glory. You may anticipate the classic reckoning at the end among scoutmaster, scout, single mother, and sociopath  Like me, you may wonder off stage, if today's scouting, with the 130+ different merit badges that can be earned, is desperately seeking a relevancy it no longer deserves. Yet I was still completely won over by Butler's novel. The movie plays in my head. An original coming of age novel that deserves a place alongside of A Separate Peace.

— From Carla's Picks


" 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: 9780062469687
ISBN-10: 0062469681
Publisher: Ecco Press
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Pages: 400
Language: English