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Extended Audio Sample The Color of Lightning, by Paulette Jiles Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (491 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paulette Jiles Narrator: Jack Garrett Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In 1863 the War Between the States creeps slowly yet inevitably toward its bloody conclusion—and eastern thoughts are already turning to different wars and enemies.

Searching for a life and future, former Kentucky slave Britt Johnson is venturing west into unknown territory with his wife, Mary, and their three children—wary but undeterred by sobering tales of atrocities inflicted upon those who trespass against the Comanche and the Kiowa. Settling on the Texas plains, the Johnson family hopes to build on the dreams that carried them from the Confederate South to this new land of possibility—dreams that are abruptly shattered by a brutal Indian raid upon the settlement while Britt is away establishing a business. Returning to face the unthinkable—his friends and neighbors slain or captured, his eldest son dead, his beloved Mary severely damaged and enslaved, and his remaining children absorbed into an alien society that will never relinquish its hold on them—the heartsick freedman vows not to rest until his family is whole again.

Samuel Hammond follows a different road west. A Quaker whose fortune is destroyed by a capricious act of an inscrutable God, he has resigned himself to the role the Deity has chosen for him. As a new agent for the Office of Indian Affairs, it is Hammond’s goal to ferret out corruption and win justice for the noble natives now in his charge. But the proud, stubborn people refuse to cease their raids, free their prisoners, and accept the farming implements and lifestyle the white man would foist upon them, adding fuel to smoldering tensions that threaten to turn a man of peace, faith, and reason onto a course of terrible retribution.

A soaring work of the imagination based on oral histories of the post-Civil War years in North Texas, Paulette Jiles’ The Color of Lightning is at once an intimate look into the hearts and hopes of tragically flawed human beings and a courageous reexamination of a dark American history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A gripping, deeply relevant book.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[A] meticulously researched and beautifully crafted story…this is glorious work.” 

    Washington Post

  • “Jiles writes like she owns the frontier, and in this multifaceted, riveting and full of danger novel, she does.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Jiles never reduces her cast of characters to stock stereotypes, tackling a traumatic and tragic episode in American history with sensitivity and assurance.” 

    Booklist

  • “Garrett’s sympathetic attention and unflagging skill are a perfect match for Jiles’ marvelous invention.” 

    AudioFile

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award, July 2009
  • Selected for the April 2009 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jennifer | 2/16/2014

    " Fascinating story of a newly-freed black family that moves to Texas in 1863. It's based on a real family. The wife and two children are kidnapped by Native Americans, and the husband rescues them 8 months later. The author does a fantastic job of exploring the moral ambiguities in the relationship between settlers (especially black settlers since their ancestors were brought to the U.S. against their will) and Native Americans. Now I am interested in her other books as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Candace Hinkle | 1/31/2014

    " If you like historical fiction this is a must read. It is based on a true story of the wild and wooly early frontier days in Texas. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mary | 1/31/2014

    " In this book, Paulette Jiles opened my eyes to what it was like for the Indians during the period following the Civil War and actually during the whole period when the government was trying to resettle them. I had,up to this time, heard more about what the Indians did to the settlers who came to their land. Jiles does share accounts of the atrocities visited on the white settlers by the Indians in this area of Texas. However we also see the Indian side and for me anyway this was enlightening. I don't know how the whole Indian situation could have been handled better but surely there must have been some way. This is a book worth reading and thinking about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by renukar | 1/30/2014

    " About the 'wild west'. Not my favorite type of fiction. But a few pages in, was completely hooked. "

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