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Extended Audio Sample High Plains Tango: A Novel Audiobook, by Robert James Waller Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (283 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert James Waller Narrator: Sam Freed Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9780739320068
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A haunting, evocative story of a small town, a beautiful and mysterious woman, and the man forever changed by both.

The wild places are where no one is looking anymore. Out there on the high plains, among the Sioux reservations and the silent buttes, among the small towns dying and the people with them, you can hear the wind. And on the back of the wind is the sound of an old accordion—tangos—mingling with the lonely thump of a single drum in the nighttime and a far-off warrior’s cry. On the back of the wind is the smell of worn saddle leather and sawdust, of sandalwood, and smoke from ancient ceremonial fires. To this, to a town called Salamander, comes Carlisle McMillan, a traveler and master carpenter seeking a place of quiet amid the grinding roar of progress. Near Wolf Butte, a strange and apparently haunted monolith, he finds his quiet, or so he believes, and begins rebuilding a decrepit house as a tribute to the gruff old man who taught him a carpenter’s skills, rebuilding his life at the same time.

He finds two very different, independent women: Gally Deveraux, who works at a diner in Salamander and longs for something more than she is, and Susanna Benteen, beautiful and enigmatic, who was drawn to Salamander for mysterious reasons of her own, a woman the town has labeled a witch. The women and his carpenter’s trade and an old Indian known as Flute Player bring Carlisle a sense of contentment for a while. But his quiet is shattered as bulldozer treads begin to turn and the Yerkes County War commences. Run or stand your ground, that is Carlisle’s dilemma, Gally on one side, Susanna on the other.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Blends Waller’s trademark romanticism with earthy humor and a powerful environmental message.”

    Dayton Daily News

  • “A solid story with interesting characters…Waller gives the narrator the most wonderful wit.“

    Omaha World-Herald

  • “Sam Freed’s deep voice is reminiscent of storytellers of old. His suitable alterations of tone add lyricism, reinforcing the evocative depictions of the stark yet picturesque landscape.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JenC. | 2/17/2014

    " This was a very good novel about a man's disillusionment with corporate America and his move to solitude until the halfway point where it took a turn for the boring. The narration changed to a newspaper reporter interviewing locals and dirty politicians/land developers' phone calls to one another regarding Emiment Domain and the government building a freeway through his land. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Margie Morris | 1/29/2014

    " This is one excellent book,I loved every bit of it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cyndi | 1/18/2014

    " I like the main character; that's the only reason I kept reading. The book went in too many directions at once, telling the history of the region, the politics of the area, the engineering of road building, and the character development. It was too preachy regarding environmentalism, etc. I did like that the battle against the bull dozer was not entirely a success and how the main character built a good life for himself and others in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deidre | 12/31/2013

    " One of those fantastic books whose characters become a part of your life & stick with you for a long long time. Savor this one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laura | 12/29/2013

    " A few morsels to be gleaned, but pretty boring for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 12/24/2013

    " Story about South Dakota and Minnesota - my old stomping grounds. One man, 2 women, drama about a new highway saving a small town. And they all lived happily ever after. Nice writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patsy Stowe | 12/11/2013

    " Good easy quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louise Kopchinski | 11/29/2013

    " not as good as Bridges of Madison County. But worth the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 11/9/2013

    " So I've been reading this book for forever now. (That grad school thing gets in the way) But I really like it so far! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jennifer | 9/21/2013

    " I couldn't finish this book -- it was that bad. It seemed like the author was working hard to sell his political agenda. Just didn't work for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neil Hanson | 6/17/2013

    " I picked this up and read it because I enjoyed "Bridges" so much. I think this is a better story than Bridges. Certainly falls into the "ChicLit" category, but I'm good with that - good characters and a good job of exploring human emotion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 6/8/2013

    " I guess I'm really into romance novels with environmental/sustainable living themes these days. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katy | 4/6/2013

    " The sad thing is there are federal and state workers just like in this book. They don't give a damn about where the road goes just so long as they get something out of it; be it money for their campaign, voter support, or something else. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Casey | 3/1/2013

    " I wanted to like this book. The plot was a little weak, and it was just ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcy Reiz | 12/9/2012

    " added more to the character of Carlisle McMillan.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanette | 10/24/2012

    " I have enjoyed a lot of Waller's older stuff, but mostly nonfiction essays. Parts of this book are quite good, but it kind of falls apart in other places. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Helen | 2/3/2012

    " Have enjoyed several of his other books.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leanne | 11/10/2011

    " Good foundation, a little romance, a little mystery, but gets political over the environment and begs the question of progress for sake of progress. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather Pulley | 10/10/2011

    " I wasn't sure I was going to finish this book when I started reading it. It moved a bit slow at first. But as I got into it, it grabbed me more and more and at the end, I was surprised to admit that I really liked it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary Mendenhall | 8/7/2011

    " This one was a little too descriptive and flowery for me....I was glad when I finished it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 6/29/2011

    " The plot was lackluster, but I loved the descriptions of the stark geography and dying town. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deirdre | 6/20/2011

    " This novel was too self-conscious and the writing felt forced. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hubjeanne | 6/8/2011

    " It was very good. I love Waller's work. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deirdre | 5/7/2011

    " This novel was too self-conscious and the writing felt forced. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lauren | 4/9/2011

    " I read this twice, the second time by accident, having forgotten how little I liked it the first time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katy | 3/27/2011

    " The sad thing is there are federal and state workers just like in this book. They don't give a damn about where the road goes just so long as they get something out of it; be it money for their campaign, voter support, or something else. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heini | 1/7/2011

    " I love this story, the melancholy, the sadness, the love and passion...I've read it twice! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 1/6/2011

    " I thought this book was a true love story about two people who wanted to be together but knew it wasn't right. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laura | 1/2/2011

    " A few morsels to be gleaned, but pretty boring for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Irene | 9/23/2010

    " Audio
    A nice book and well written
    another slice of life/love story "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deidre | 6/2/2010

    " One of those fantastic books whose characters become a part of your life & stick with you for a long long time. Savor this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 5/30/2010

    " I wasn't sure I was going to finish this book when I started reading it. It moved a bit slow at first. But as I got into it, it grabbed me more and more and at the end, I was surprised to admit that I really liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 5/23/2010

    " Story about South Dakota and Minnesota - my old stomping grounds. One man, 2 women, drama about a new highway saving a small town. And they all lived happily ever after. Nice writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cherri | 5/22/2010

    " I made it through but only because I didn't have anything else to read. I'm just not into this author's style - to verbose for me. I couldn't even make it through the Bridges of Madison County at all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Casey | 3/20/2010

    " I wanted to like this book. The plot was a little weak, and it was just ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcy | 11/8/2009

    " added more to the character of Carlisle McMillan.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leanne | 9/2/2009

    " Good foundation, a little romance, a little mystery, but gets political over the environment and begs the question of progress for sake of progress. "

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About the Author
Author Robert James Waller

Robert James Waller (1939–2017) was an American writer and author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Bridges of Madison County and Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend. The Bridges of Madison County was the basis for a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Street and nominated for an Academy Award. His other works include the New York Times bestsellers A Thousand Country Roads, Old Songs in a New Café: Selected Essays; Border Music; and Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, as well as a book of photographs, Images.

About the Narrator

Sam Freed is an actor, voice talent, and audiobook narrator.