North and South (North and South, #1)

ISBN: 0451200810
ISBN 13: 9780451200815
By: John Jakes

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About this book

Part history, part novel, this book chronicles two great American dynasties over three generations. Though brought together in a friendship that neither jealousy nor violence could shatter, the Hazards and the Mains are torn apart by the storm of events that has divided the nation.

Reader's Thoughts

John Harder

My girlfriend recommended this book to me, and I am appalled that her lily-white and pure hands ever held such a dirty book. There is plenty of stirring of loins and heaving of breasts in this bodice ripper. Jakes throws in a history lesson so you do not feel as guilty about a guilty pleasure. Might I add, I plan on reading the other two books in the trilogy. No one would ever accuse Jakes of writing literature, but this novel accomplishes its purpose. His primary goal is light entertainment surrounded by historical events. So as with all reasonably done historical fiction, you may learn something without realizing it. I am only giving this book 3 stars since it is not artistically written, but it isn’t supposed to be, so I don’t know if such a rating is fair; but I don’t want anyone to confuse this with Faulkner.Take this book into a closet with a flashlight. Enjoy it and don’t let any of your more professorial friends catch you with it.

Christine Blachford

I'm not sure what prompted me to read this one, considering it wasn't actually on my Big Read list. However, having worked through that list, I've been emboldened to read some of the more intimidating books, and this was one of those. I'm glad I did, too, because it was really good!Set against the backdrop of growing unrest between the north and south United States, it's a story of two sprawling families, their lives and loves, as well as how the slave trade gradually wound towards its demise. I must admit that in the second half of the book, I was starting to struggle with the vast cast of characters, and it would take me a second or two to remember who someone was. That was a particular problem because there are occasions where one character is left behind for a long while, and then we suddenly catch up with them quite a few chapters later.But that's not really a huge problem, and one mostly associated with my poor memory. It's a gripping story, I kept wanting to know what would happen with the families, whether characters would ever get together. I understand it's part of a trilogy, and whilst I might take a break for a bit, I definitely want to read further.

Beth Bedee

I first saw the ABC mini-series in the mid '80s. It's still one of my favorites today. Then, I read the book when I was 19. John Jakes has such a knack for bringing history to life. He interweaves fictional with historical characters so easily. You get such a sense of the turbulence in the years leading up to the Civil War. This book and the entire trilogy is what prompted me to become a History major. This was my second time reading the book, and I loved it even better that the first because I have more reading knowledge and appreciation. If you're looking to learn about the unrest in this country leading up to the Civil War and to explore the causes and regional views from all angles, look no further than this book. It also offers a great glimpse into the military life at Westpoint.But its not all history. There are romances and other plot lines. There are characters to both love and hate.It's a bear: 800 pages of ridiculously small font. But it's so worth it.


Someone at work was about to take the North & South Trilogy to the library, but offered them to me instead. I took these three massive tomes, which I remembered dimly from the 1980s (along with the TV miniseries adaptation) with muted thanks. No, I'll never turn down a book, but I expected some poorly written, overblown mess -- something like what you'd get if VC Andrews decided to write a historical trilogy. I put it off for nearly a year, and then finally cracked open North and South, fully prepared to be underwhelmed.Wow. I'm now on the second volume, and would like to belatedly join the John Jakes Fan Club. Wow again. I've lived in the South since 1986, despite growing up as a full-blooded Yankee, going back to pre-Revolution days. And of course I read Gone With the Wind, so of course I kind of thought I knew about the Civil War. Wrong. It seems I'm only now starting to understand this not-so-distant history of my country. I strongly recommend this series of books to anyone who feels they need to do some catching up. John Jakes has painstakingly researched the subject and managed to personalize it through his characters. His writing is clear, very readable, detailed without being dense, and entertaining enough to keep you turning the pages. I also need to add that it's currently spring of 2012, and the political turmoil that fills the headlines today shows VERY LITTLE change from what Jakes depicts during the mid-1800s. It's sobering and more than a little scary.Not having finished all three books yet, I can't do proper justice to the series with a review at this point, but if there is to be any criticism, it would be a tendency to draw the villains a bit too floridly. Bent the Butcher and Ashton the scheming nympho have raised my skeptical eyebrows numerous times so far ... but they are, nonetheless, characters you "love to hate." Knowing full well that it's "only a story," I still want to find out just how much more havoc they have up their sleeves. I'm about 2/3 of the way through Love and War, the second book, and will probably not pause before picking up the final installment, Heaven and Hell. I may even get into The Kent Family Chronicles, John Jakes's earlier historical series. But regardless, this author has enriched my reading and learning life with North and South, and I'd strongly encourage any historically impaired readers to seek out these books post-haste.


So, the first 150 pages of this took me FOREVER to read. I just couldn't get into it, couldn't remember who was who and just felt generally kind of overwhelmed at the idea of reading 800 more pages of this...All at once, it picked up for me and I read the last 650 pages in just a couple of days.This is the first book of a three book series. It is the story of two families that are BFF but live on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixion Line during Civil War times. This first book was everything leading up to the civil war, the second book is during, and the third book is after. I was really impressed with the writing, the attention to detail and accuracy, and the character development. Although there was a huge, sprawling cast of characters, you really got to know everyone really well. And what I was really impressed with was how no one was depicted as absolutely anything. These characters generally seemed like real, torn individuals during a crazy time in our history.I am really excited to get into the next books in this series.


** spoiler alert ** I first read North and South back in high school, when I was inspired to do so after watching the miniseries in my Civil War class. I came to love it just as much as the miniseries then, and I still do now. Reading it again after several years, though, has been amazing. I'm picking up a lot more of the underlying themes, and the conflict between the Mains and the Hazards and how it mirrored the conflict between the northern and southern states. John Jakes really isn't called the father of historical fiction for nothing.There are times that Jakes' characters amaze me. Virgilia's radicalism, for instance, is nothing short of brilliant. She's quite frightening at times over her feral hatred of slavery, the South, and Southerners. Summoning a mob to come and kill Orry when he visited George just before the full onset of the war was horrifying (and wonderfully portrayed by the actors in the miniseries, brought to life very well).Still, the characterizations aren't perfect. I never cared for the treatment of Clarissa Main in the book, having her retreat into her own little world and forgetting everything outside of it, including her own children. Jean Simmons' portrayal of Clarissa in the miniseries was much, much more compelling -- a gentile yet strong woman who saw her entire world destroyed, and yet was not herself destroyed by it.Overall, it's an amazing, thrilling story of the Antebellum years, featuring two families united in friendship and love, but finding themselves on opposite sides as the drums of war begin to beat...


one of my all-time favourites, i simply adore this entire story and every character in it

Amber Cooley

Loved this!!! Couldn't put it down and immediately picked up the next one. I love Jakes' style of writing- he is very knowledgable in American history, but doesn't add so much history and war strategy that you lose track of the characters and their story.


Granted, this is a work of historical fiction, but Jakes does an amazing job of integrating his fictional characters into a surprisingly insightful and accurate historical setting. This book explores many of the issues — beyond slavery that contributed to the Civil War. He explores how the entire economic history was forged around the slavery issue, for the both the North and the South. The South was economically dependent on the slaves who helped maintain the family plantations. But Jakes also points out how it wasn’t simply the South that rested on this morally appalling practice. The North, who’s economy was as intertwined with the South as that of its own industrial revolution, also struggled with how to solve what they found to be a highly destabilizing issue. For my full review, you can find it here:

Marion Marchetto

Although this series has been available for quite some time, I have finally undertaken the reading of this epic story. When I saw that the first book had 883 pages I almost swooned. So much for a quick read! thought I. But I chipped away page by page and was soon finished. I must credit John Jakes with creating an historically accurate story so interesting, and characters so complex, that I simply had to keep reading. I was compelled to do so. The Hazards and the Mains have been part of my life since I saw the screen adaptation many years ago. Even reading this first book, I kept hearing Patrick Swayze's voice as Orry Main. If you love history, have a passing interest in the Civil War or the institution of slavery, this is a must-read!

Jane Greensmith

Really enjoyed this and looking forward to Love and War, book 2 in the trilogy.I hate to think these great historical series from the 1980s are in danger of being forgotten. They're well-written, accurate historically, and interesting with a good mix of characters.


In a sentence: not as good as Herman Wouk, but better than Ken Follet. To elaborate, in its favor North and South shares with Wouk’s War and Remembrance historical accuracy and intimacy of its characters, but suffers from a reliance on Follet-like Dick-Dastardly villains to create tension.In this first book of the trilogy, John Jakes makes significant effort to chronicle the period leading to the American Civil War. This is best done, as in any historical fiction, when he allows the history to speak for itself through the experience of its characters - slavery, the Mexican war, pre-civil war discontent. Jakes is less successful when he rattles off brief references to speech by American politician so-and-so of such-and-such – these tidbits are easy to breeze over, particularly because they often have no direct correlation with the characters.The protagonists are very well-rounded and develop drastically and realistically over the course of the novel. Jakes shows how complicated the issue of slavery was at the time through his main characters; is a Unionist who abhors slavery but would rather the freed slaves be sent to Liberia inherently any more "good" than a slave-owner who treats his slaves humanely?Unfortunately, to create tension Jakes relies on one-dimensional villains whose entire shtick is to antagonize the protagonists. There are four characters (two of whom are the respective evil sister of a protagonist's family) who utter thoughts to the effect “I swear to ruin the life of [hero] until the end of my days”. I actually laughed out loud when I came to “One day, she [Virgilia] vowed as she panted her way to the hilltop, she’d pay them. She’d pay them all”, because this kind of utterance had come so many times before (e.g. “From that moment onward Isabel hated the two of them [the lovely couple, the stars of the book] even more passionately than ever before.”What makes it unfortunate is that there are already plenty of sources of tension – slavery, abusive husbands, believable ignorance/prejudice, to name a few – and these are explored. Though infrequent, there are moments of sheer incredulity. For example, there is a ridiculous scene where a character recognizes that his competitor in a duel will try to kill him through any means, yet somehow manages to tell himself that the duel will be fair despite evidence to the contrary. Slaves are also bestowed with an unrealistic angelic streak, such as when one sacrifices himself for the suitor (who is barely knows) of a slave-owner (who has shown no particular warmness to the slave).Alas, do not think I did not enjoy North and South. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have gone on straight into the sequel. It is quality, epic historical fiction. Audiobook (narrated by Grover Gardner) 5/5:Oddly, I’m always nervous about taking up Gardner – he lacks the incredible versatility in voice talent of my favorites. However, as always happens you notice at some point in the book that he gives sufficient differentiation that you can recognize characters, at least scene by scene, by voice after all. His fluency, as always, is spot-on.


Much rougher and more realistic than the romantic, pro-southern GONE WITH THE WIND, the gold standard of Civil War books for more than a generation. Although this book, (NORTH AND SOUTH) was printed first in 1981, I never found my way inside its pages until now. I enjoyed it very much, especially this book #1 which spent 806 pages meticulously setting the stage for what brought our great nation to this awful point in time in which Americans killed their own. I look forward to the second installment, with excitement, and also a heavy heart, where the families I've grown to love within the pages of book #1; the northern Hazards and southern Mains, fight one another - best friend against best friend, on the battlefield. Who from these great families will be among the more than 600,000 killed?

Sandy Vaughan

If you saw the movie, wipe it from your mind and then read this trilogy! All the characters are so real. You may not know what they are going to do but it sure makes sense when they do it. In the beginning you meet 2 young West Point cadets. These men and their families you will follow from before, during, and after the Civil War. And be glad you are getting them now. I tried not to read them until I had all three, I thought i had learned my lesson from the Kent Family Chronicles...but no! I had to start reading as soon as i got the 2nd book. And I ended up frustrated when I finished the 2nd vol. and the last was not out yet! I don't know if parents would allow it because of some of the sexual scenes but if I had a class of mature students, I would have it on the recommended reading list.Before you get started, you have to remember, West Point of today is not the West Point of the 1800s. You will read a lot of history but it goes down well with this, one of my favorite authors, John Jakes.

Tea Jovanović

Odlična knjiga o američkom građanskom ratu... Popularnosti knjige kod nas doprinela je i dobra serija snimljena po ovom romanu... Sećate se? S Patrikom Svejzijem... :)

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