Oleander City: A Novel Based on a True Story Audiobook, by Matt Bondurant Play Audiobook Sample

Oleander City: A Novel Based on a True Story Audiobook

Oleander City: A Novel Based on a True Story Audiobook, by Matt Bondurant Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Chris Henry Coffey, Julia Atwood Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 5.83 hours at 1.5x Speed 4.38 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: June 2022 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9798200816187

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

50:43 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

36 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

24:49 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Other Audiobooks Written by Matt Bondurant: > View All...

Publisher Description

In the wake of the 1900 Galveston hurricane, three lives converge despite persecution from the Ku Klux Klan, a bare-knuckle boxing match gone wrong, and the recovery efforts of the American Red Cross.

Based on a true story

The hurricane of 1900, America’s worst natural disaster, left the island city of Galveston in ruins. Thousands perished, including all ninety-three children at the Sisters of the Incarnate Word orphanage—except six-year-old Hester, who miraculously survived. Oleander City is the tale of this little girl and the volatile collision between the American Red Cross, the Ku Klux Klan, and one of the most famous boxing matches in American history. The bout, organized to raise money for the recovery effort, featured the enigmatic veteran “Chrysanthemum Joe” Choynski, the most successful Jewish boxer in America, and Jack Johnson, a young hometown hero known as “the Galveston Giant.” The storied battle forged a bond between the two legendary fighters and put Johnson on the path to become the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.

Meanwhile, Clara Barton and the Red Cross minister to the sick and hungry as mounted vigilantes use the chaotic situation to settle old scores. After witnessing a terrible crime, Hester finds sanctuary with the ladies of the Red Cross, in a heartrending convergence of these historic figures.

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“From the catastrophic chaos and horror of the worst natural disaster in US history, Matt Bondurant extracts three very human stories of individuals who found themselves caught up in the aftermath of unimaginable tragedy. His portraits of these three disparate souls dramatize the valuable poignancy of tenderness cast against the necessary toughness of dedication, the sweetness of dreams, and the unwavering commitment to purpose, to life. This novel surprises with its perceptiveness and astonishes with its poignant illustration of the deeper and more sustaining values of beauty and truth and love.”

— Clay Reynolds, author of The Vigil, Franklin’s Crossing, and The Tentmaker 


  • “In Oleander City, Bondurant reminds us of the horrors of our humanity but amid it all, that there are those who fight for goodness, for love and truth, that we are brutal but also beautiful brutes. This is a brilliant novel.”

    — Julianna Baggott, national bestselling author of Girl Talk and Pure
  • “With austere prose, compelling characters, and a gripping true story, Oleander City bears down on its characters like a category five storm, forcing three lost souls to discover who they truly are. More timely than one would think, this tale of natural catastrophe, racial injustice, and lawlessness ultimately illuminates the humanity that motivates and unites us all. A certifiable page-turner, Oleander City pulls at you with the dark undertow of an America that isn’t quite bygone.”

    — Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Master’s Son
  • “Set against the sweeping backdrop of dramatic action…this book will keep you reading into the night.”

    — Chris Offutt, author of Shifty’s Boys
  • “In Oleander City, Matt Bondurant braids the events of the worst natural disaster in American history with one of the great untold stories of American culture. Only a writer of Bondurant’s skill could achieve such complicated braiding. This is history written like a novel, a complicated legacy of human tragedy, race, and class distilled into one hell of a read.”

    — Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author
  • “Bondurant masterfully entwines haunting imagery, humanity at its best and worst, and factual historical events into an examination of racism, sexism, and white privilege that is just as relevant today as it was in 1900.”

    — Library Journal (starred review)
  • “Bondurant weaves together fascinating backstories with vivid descriptions of the storm and its aftermath, showing that it takes many types of courage to fight for what is right.”

    — Booklist
  • “Bondurant’s Oleander City is the best kind of historical novel. Richly imagined, exquisitely written, this tale of disaster and perseverance is both visceral and urgent. The intertwined tales of Galveston mud and spilled blood, like the dizzying combinations of the book’s bare-fisted boxers, make this novel a knockout.”

    — M. O. Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of My Sunshine Away and The Big Door Prize
  • “Oleander City is a surreal blend of the real and the imagined, where broken lives traverse the ravaged landscapes of hurt and loss. Matt Bondurant depicts characters who carry the great weight of tragedy, and he reminds us that where there is heavy burden, there is also the strength to bear it.”

    — Michael Farris Smith, author of Nick and The Fighter 
  • “Matt Bondurant’s latest work of historical fiction is a deftly woven tale of humanity amidst tragedy. Its vivid characters traverse the broken landscape of hurricane-ravaged Galveston, their lives intersecting in surprising and complicated ways. I won’t forget any of them—especially Hester, a stoic orphan girl accompanied by an old hound dog. It’s a gripping story told with lush and immersive detail.”

    — Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens and We Want What We Want
  • “In Oleander City, Matt Bondurant takes the carbon of history and, with the pressure and heat of beautifully crafted prose, sensitively drawn characters, and a gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching narrative, creates a brilliant diamond of a novel. Bondurant hurls readers through the Galveston hurricane of 1900, past figures as legendary as Jack Johnson and Clara Barton, into collision with the Ku Klux Klan, and straight toward the dark, murky truth of the American Dream. Oleander City, like all diamonds, is a gift to last forever.” 

    — Snowden Wright, author of Play Pretty Blues and American Pop
  • “Perhaps best known for his unflinching nonfiction, Matt Bondurant’s latest novel, Oleander City, capitalizes on the same strengths to weave a fictional account of one of the most horrific natural disasters in American history…Compelling…Oleander City is a well-executed take on one of the most fatal days of the last century.”

    — San Francisco Book Review
  • “This novel will appeal to readers wanting to learn about the greatest Jewish boxer of all time (Choynski), young Jack Johnson, the selfless Red Cross of an earlier time, and the carnage wrought by Galveston’s hurricane.”

    — Historical Novels Review
  • “Oleander City is a well-written, fascinating historical fiction.”

    — Book Junkie Reviews


  • A Lone Star Literary Pick of Books of the Month
  • A Crime Reads Pick of Best New Books of the Week
  • A Garden & Gun magazine pick for Summer Reading
  • A Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • A Barnes & Noble Pick of Favorite Indie e-Books of 2022

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About Matt Bondurant

Matt Bondurant’s last novel, The Night Swimmer, was featured in the New York Times Book Review, Outside magazine, and the Daily Beast, among other outlets. His second novel, The Wettest County in the World, is an international bestseller and was made into the feature film Lawless, starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Jessica Chastain. His first novel, The Third Translation, is also an international bestseller, translated into fourteen languages worldwide. Matt has published numerous short stories, poems, essays, and book reviews, as well as feature articles specializing in adventure and endurance athletic events. He currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

About the Narrators

Chris Henry Coffey is a film and television actor known for his role in David Schwimmer’s film Trust. He has also had roles on Broadway, including the play Bronx Bombers. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.

Julia Atwood is an actor and audiobook narrator who earned her bachelor's degree in classics and psychology from Wheaton College and her master's degree in acting from Brown University. She is currently based in New York City.