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Extended Audio Sample The Coldest Night, by Robert Olmstead Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00296735905045 out of 53.00296735905045 out of 53.00296735905045 out of 53.00296735905045 out of 53.00296735905045 out of 5 3.00 (337 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert Olmstead Narrator: Richard Poe Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and the Heartland Prize for his fiction, Robert Olmstead crafts riveting prose about love, war, and the human condition.

Henry Childs is just seventeen when he falls into a love affair so intense it nearly consumes him. But when young Mercy’s disapproving father threatens Henry’s life, Henry runs as far as he can—to the other side of the world.

The time is 1950, and the Korean War hangs in the balance. Henry, descended from a long line of soldiers, enlists in the marines and arrives in Korea on the eve of the brutal seventeen-day battle of the Chosin Reservoir—the turning point of the war—completely unprepared for the forbidding Korean landscape and the unimaginable circumstances of a war well beyond the scope of anything his ancestors ever faced. But the challenges he meets upon his return home, scarred and haunted, are greater by far.

Robert Olmstead’s riveting new novel is not only a passionate story of love and war but also a timeless story of soldiers coming home to a country with little regard for, and even less knowledge of, what they’ve confronted. Through his hero, Olmstead reveals an unspoken truth about combat: that for many men, the experience of war is the most enlivening, electric, and extraordinary experience of their lives.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The no-rush gait, the unadorned yet unambiguous description, the resonant alliteration…This is the kind of sentence that warms The Coldest Night and makes you wonder if Olmstead was meant to be a poet. But Olmstead is a novelist, and a very good one…It’s his depiction of war’s less monstrous aspects—the continuous repositioning of troops and reshuffling of strongholds, the ceaseless anticipation of surprise attacks, the unmitigated exhaustion—that steadily unsettles…These lines lend a humanity to war that descriptions of guts and gore alone cannot.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • The Coldest Night is riveting, thoughtful and—in the large section set in Korea—harrowing…Olmstead is an immensely gifted stylist, his prose capable of conveying the magic and passion of first love as well as the ferocity of battle. He also has a knack for imagery as memorable as it is unexpected…Few write as powerfully or as realistically as Olmstead about the way war makes a boy grow up far too fast.” 

    Washington Post

  • “Working-class boy meets rich girl, and forbidden passion flares, in this thought-provoking, unabashedly romantic novel set in the 1950s.” 

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2012
  • Selected for the April 2012 Indie Next List
  • A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Cat Mckaig | 2/19/2014

    " The settings changed a bit abruptly, but I did like the way the characters were built over time. The ending was a bit mystifying..... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jeff | 2/19/2014

    " Phenomenal prose. This was the first novel I have read that takes place during the Korean war. That being said, the plot was not particularly engaging for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tiffany | 2/18/2014

    " I found this book to be rather strange, however it did offer great insight into a soldiers mind (despite the fact that it's a fictional story) I grew up with a father who was greatly damaged by the Vietnam war but would never share with me why or how it affected him. This book gave me a glimpse into what that experience could have been like and why perhaps it would be to painful to recount. I appreciated this insight although the book itself meandered without resolve in its entirety. At least it went pretty quickly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Elizabeth | 2/2/2014

    " Good idea just didn't quite deliver "

  • > Show All
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About the Author
Author Robert Olmstead

Robert Olmstead is an award-winning author and educator. His novel Coal Black Horse was the winner of the Heartland Prize for Fiction. His other fiction work includes America By Land, A Trail of Heart’s Blood Wherever We Go, Far Bright Star, and Soft Water. Olmstead is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and an NEA  grant. Along with his fiction work, he has also written a textbook for fiction-writing workshops and a nonfiction memoir, Stay Here With Me. He is currently director of the creative writing program at Ohio Wesleyan University. Previously, he served as Senior Writer in Residence at Dickinson College and as director of the creative writing program at Boise State University.