Read The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton Online


To the ranchers and farmers of 1950s Texas, man's biggest enemy is one he can't control. With their entire livelihood pegged on the chance of a wet year or a dry year, drought has the ability to crush their whole enterprise, to determine who stands and who falls, and to take food out of the mouths of the workers and their families. To Charlie Flagg, an honest, decent, andTo the ranchers and farmers of 1950s Texas, man's biggest enemy is one he can't control. With their entire livelihood pegged on the chance of a wet year or a dry year, drought has the ability to crush their whole enterprise, to determine who stands and who falls, and to take food out of the mouths of the workers and their families. To Charlie Flagg, an honest, decent, and cantankerous rancher, the drought of the early 1950s is a foe that he must fight on his own grounds. Refusing the questionable "help" of federal aid programs, Charlie and his family struggle to make the ranch survive until the time it rains again-if it ever rains again....

Title : The Time It Never Rained
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812574517
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Time It Never Rained Reviews

  • Howard
    2019-03-25 22:15

    Elmer Kelton wrote in the prologue of The Time It Never Rained:"Men grumbled, but you learned to live with the dry spells if you stayed in West Texas; there were more dry spells than wet ones. No one expected another drought like that of ’33. And the really big dries like 1918 came once in a lifetime.“'Why worry?' They said. 'It would rain this fall. It always had.' "“But it didn’t. And many a boy would become a man before the land was green again.”The novel is set in West Texas during the 50’s when the region endured and barely survived a drought that lasted seven long years. And Kelton was there – not as a rancher, but as an agriculture journalist. He covered the desolation on a daily basis and was intimately acquainted with what it meant for the people who were forced to cope with its devastating manifestations.As a sideline, Kelton had been writing fiction since the late 40’s and his stories were first published in pulp magazines. When those went out of business, he was able to get his first novel, Hot Iron, published in 1955. Twice he began a novel about the drought but his publisher was not interested. It was too different – too unconventional. Its plot simply did not contain the elements ordinarily found in the Western novels of the day. There was a lot of gray and very little black-and-white. It was a story about change and how people attempted to adapt to it, but not always with success. In other words, there was not enough action; it was too tame as far as the publisher was concerned. One might even say, too literary.In the early 70’s, after several more of Kelton’s novels were published, he scrapped his first two efforts and began a third draft of a novel about the drought. The Time It Never Rained was the happy result.Seven of Kelton’s novels have received the Western Writers of America’s prestigious Spur Award and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has bestowed its coveted Western Heritage Awards on him for three of his novels. These are the equivalent of Pulitzer Prizes in the Western book world.The Western Writers of America eventually named Kelton “the number one Western Writer of all time.” Willa Cather finished a distant second. Kelton went on to write over forty novels, two published posthumously after his death in 2009, but the most honored is The Time It Never Rained, for it received both the Spur Award and the Western Heritage Award. Kelton never wrote “the Great American Novel,” but some critics have called this book “the Great Texas Novel.”Kelton’s protagonist is Charlie Flagg, "[who] was past fifty now, a broad shouldered man who still toted his own sacks, dug his own postholes, flanked his own calves." His ranch would have been considered a mid-sized one in West Texas in the 50’s. It consisted of fifteen sections, almost ten thousand acres, but he owned only three of the sections. He leased the others.Cattle and sheep ranching in West Texas on any size scale at all required many acres even in the best of times. It took four acres to feed just one sheep and twenty to feed one cow. During the dry times, even those ratios would not suffice. Therefore, ten thousand acres was not a large ranch.Charlie was an ornery cuss. He was also a libertarian at a time when that particular philosophical label was not in vogue. While the other ranchers in the area accept government assistance during the drought, Charlie will have nothing to do with it.Charlie says that when a man took government assistance "he sold his freedom bit by bit, and was paid for it on the installment plan," and that "the politician promiseth, and the bureaucrat taketh away." "What I can’t do for myself," he says at one point, "I’ll do without."He uses his grandfather as his role model as he tries to explain to his son why he is unwilling to accept government assistance:"He went through cruel hard times when there was others takin’ a pauper’s oath so they could get money and food and free seed, but he never would take that oath. He come within an inch of starvin’ to death, and he died a poor man. But he never owed any man a debt he didn’t pay and he never taken a thing off the government."And what about Charlie? Does he prevail? Rather than disclosing the answer to those questions, I would recommend that everyone read this atypical Western novel and discover the answers for themselves.And what about today? It would seem that the more things change, the more they remain the same, as indicated by this headline: In 2014, Texas Drought Could Be Worst Ever In Some Areas, Climatologist Says.Here is a sample of the world according to Charlie Flagg:"It's as old as mankind...the hope of gettin' somethin' for nothin' or gettin' more out of the pot than you put in it. Nobody's ever made it work yet. Nobody ever will.""It's a good life, son, but sometimes a damn thin livin'.""As a way of makin' money, ranchin' is awful highly overrated.""Only real difference I see between ranchin' and poker is with poker you got some chance.""A ranch without any cows is like a man walkin' down the street without any pants on. He's just not respectable.""I reckon we just keep the ewes so we can afford the cows.""Some people say we ought to let the coyote alone, that we got to have them for the balance of Nature. But most of these people live in the cities, where they threw Nature out years ago. They ain't goin' to give up their automobiles and paved streets and sewer systems to get Nature back, but they're damn sure free with advice on what the other man ought to do.""I say man has got to be considered a part of Nature's balance, too. You can't raise coyotes and sheep together any more than you can have paved streets and coyotes together. You can't eat a coyote or wear his fur.""A bad habit or two is good for a man or a beast. Did you ever know a man who didn't have any bad habits? I have, and I always hated the son of a bitch.".

  • David Cox
    2019-03-31 19:38

    The greatest American novel no one outside of Texas ever heard of.

  • Book Riot Community
    2019-03-27 20:33

    I have this sweet situation going on where my partner has spent the last year reading only books I’ve recommended to him. As most book nerds can attest to, living with someone who takes every book suggestion you give them is a dream come true! So when he finally asked me to read something he loved I knew I owed it to him, but I’ll be damned if I wanted to do it. It took me a bit to get into it but once I did I was blown away by how touching and funny and lovely it was. Westerns aren’t typically on my genre radar but this one was paced perfectly, with really impressive character development, and lots of surprisingly funny bits. I was sorry to see it end.— Tracy Shapleyfrom The Best Books We Read In July 2016:

  • Chrisl
    2019-04-17 18:39

    It's looking like Central and Eastern Oregon's ranchers should be reading Kelton's potent look at long term drought. The regional deer seem to be spending more and more browsing time on the irrigated acres like mine. Statewide, salmon and less economically important fish are dying in the too warm rivers.KIRKUS REVIEWCharlie Flagg won't accept government allotments for feed for his dying cattle and sheep; he'd rather lose land and switch to goats (they go anywhere and don't hardly need nothing to eat) out in Rio Seco, Texas, in the worst drought since '13. Events vindicate him as the government in its bureaucratic farm-program confusion does what six years of no rain haven't: Charlie's more prosperous ranching neighbors collapse like playing cards as the endless bank loans and mortgages are called in and the land is taken over by conglomerates and accountants to whom the touch of good soil means nothing -- spelling, you know, the end of that wonderful era of Rugged Individualism. A sentimental parable of hard times bringing out the best (and worst), slow and dry like the empty plains -- a myth about as outdated as the America we used to know and love -- with a bit of contemporary racial reference (gringos vs. greasers) just to keep the young 'uns innerested.

  • Wallace Kaufman
    2019-04-04 18:15

    Elmer Kelton is too often pigeon holed as a Western writer, cowboy writer, Texas regional writer. This book should rank with Faulkner's work as the local made universal. It is one of the very best works of fiction from which a reader can gain a valuable and usable insight into the dynamics of humankind and the natural environment. (Entirely unlike the Utopian, romantic, and idealistic stuff of so much environmental writing.) Great story, great insight.

  • Joseph Dorris
    2019-04-10 20:36

    An incredibly sobering book. I could never live up to the example of Charlie Flagg, yet his character should give us all something to think about. I think this may have been Kelton's finest writing. He captures in a few words some incredibly deep struggles and realities. He doesn't force the politics of the time (and more overwhelmingly of today) on the reader, but shows the reader through stark reality the unintended consequences of a government's misguided good intentions. It helped me understand the independence of the rancher and the necessity for being so, and yet, he shows the strength derived from neighbors' friendship and generosity and the strength derived from helping each other. Those who understand the Western way of life will relate.

  • Steven
    2019-04-15 22:39

    I enjoyed this book more than all those Louis L'Amour books, including the one I had gone to the Western section to buy when I came out with this one. I don't know if it's Kelton or not, but this was a great book. Great characters, memorable setting and problems. I thought it was well-developed for what is often a formulaic genre. I enjoyed the main character, particularly his stubborn refusal to buy into a government aid program. His insistence seems to have died with him somewhere decades ago. But I loved it. The insights about farming during a drought were fascinating, like all the men using oversized blowtorches to burn the needles off prickly pear cactus so the cows would have something to eat. There were so many interesting things....But it hit so close to home just now, while I personally weigh buying hay against selling horses, and wonder how much more I can run the sprinkler before the acquifer drops lower than my well. Sometimes the book was depressing, but pretty dern timely!***I've lived in the country nearly two years. I got here just in time for a drought old timers say is the worst since 1955. Lately my 88-year-old friend says this one is worse than '55. When I saw Kelton's book, a novel set against the realities of the 1955 drought--which lasted some nine years in West Texas--I knew I had to read it.

  • Tim
    2019-04-18 22:28

    If you want to understand the mentality of long time Texans, especially those of a previous generation and those living west of Ft. Worth, this is a remarkable book about a man of character, determination, and a love for the land. I have read this five or six times and have given it to many people. Kelton is a wonderful writer and this story of a Texas rancher during the drought of the 1950s is among his best.

  • Chris G Derrick
    2019-03-31 18:11

    I read this book at the end of last year, and finished it in only a few days.It was easy to imagine what living through such a dire situation would be like from Elmer Kelton's great descriptive use of words.He also managed to create characters that you cared about. Which, for me, is also important in the enjoyment of a good novel.It's a book that would be good to read again after a while.All in all a great read.Thoroughly recommended.

  • Eva M.
    2019-04-09 18:20

    Thanks to a recommendation I FINALLY read this wonderful, sad, memorable tale of West Texas rancher life. Not what I expected, and much more than I could have hoped for. Great characters, a narrative that moves well, and the environmental tragedy that continues.

  • Samuel Snoek-Brown
    2019-03-26 18:37

    There's certainly something to be said for learning to appreciate an older style of writing. I labored with Dostoyevsky for example; I even had to work at loving Chekhov. But such adjusting periods usually pay off because the literature is so rich and beautiful and, for the writer, informative about the possibilities in craft. I've labored long and hard with Elmer Kelton's The Time It Never Rained, because it is an historical novel rooted firmly in a particular culture, a particular era, a particular economy. It addresses issues of race and class, of politics, of environmentalism. It is a complex novel. But my problem with it is this: it takes too damned long to get itself underway, and the labor doesn't really pay off. Sure, the characters that start out as stolidly stereotypical do eventually develop distinct personalities, individual motives, a life outside the plot. But before Kelton can let these characters live and breathe on their own, he feels the need to utilize them toward some other Purpose, with a capital P: namely, he needs to take the time to explain to us, in textbook detail, the harsh mechanics of ranch life, the prejudices of every class of character, and -- most importantly -- his conservative, anti-government political slant. And he takes forever doing it. I suppose that, given the beauty of the second half of the book, that wait might seem worth it. But here's my problem: While Elmer Kelton takes somewhere between 120 and 150 pages to set up the socio-economic realities of his novel, Jane Austen managed the same in the very first sentence of Pride and Prejudice. And I think if Kelton had sacrificed his research and his memoirs in favor of tightly crafted storytelling the way Austen did, this would have been a much, much finer novel.That's not to say it is without beauty. Even early in the novel, Kelton's descriptions of the landscape are among the most beautiful passages I've read: "It was a comforting sight, this country. It was an ageless land where the past was still a living thing and old voices still whispered, where the freshness of the pioneer time had not yet all faded, where a few of the old dreams were not yet dark with tarnish. It had not been so long, really, since feathered Comanches had roamed these hills a-horseback, seeking after game, or occasionally in warpaint seeking honor and booty and blood. Eighty years . . . one man's lifetime." (One feels the lamenting echo of this romance in the latter pages of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, both set and written a generation after Kelton's novel.)And once he gets the dry technical-manual-like explanations of ranch life out of the way, he winds up writing gloriously punchy, concise sentences about cowboying and sheepherding: "Diego climbed over the fence, rope in his hand, and dropped down inside the corral. He shook out a horse loop, moved carefully toward the colts, swung the rope in a quick figure eight and caught the bay around the neck." This quick, easy passage, letting necessary jargon slip in and out without any passing glance, is a far cry better than the full paragraph some 70 pages earlier in which Kelton carries on about the long historical whys and wherefores of putting a plate and glass in the kitchen sink. (I'm not exaggerating.)Overall, though, the beautiful pastoral writing and the eventual development of the main characters -- especially Charlie Flagg and his Mexican ranch hand's son Manuel -- can't compete with the pervasive political bias of the novel, which asserts itself in long, awkward treatises and monologues or forced "arguments" between the dogged Flagg and basically everyone else in the book. I don't mind political content in a novel, especially if it serves the story, but in the case of this book, the servitude is reversed. In an afterward to the edition I read, Tarleton State University professor Tom Pilkington remarks that "it would be a mistake, I think, to read into the novel a particular political message -- that all government aid should be sternly and righteously rejected." But that precise message comprises at least half of Charlie Flagg's speech and thoughts in this book, and as Pilkington notes, Charlie Flagg is presented as a "a genuine hero," so his is the voice of the whole novel. And every single character save one who accepts government assistance and offers a counterpoint to Flagg's perspective does so in weak, circular, repetitive illogic, always resorting to either an "everyone else is doing it" or a greedy "get yours while the getting's good" position, and every one of them, by the end of the novel, comes to ruination and in one way or another "concedes" that Flagg was right all along. The lone hold-out, the only character to offer the thinnest attempt at a serious argument against the novel's pervasive anti-government stance, doesn't make his stand until barely 10 pages form the end, and the best he can muster is "the system's broken, but the idea's still good."So I think it would be foolish to ignore the political message wedged into practically every page of this novel, and because the story and the characters become so servile to that message, it's hard to take this book seriously as a work of fiction.I should say, though, that the problems with story aside, it's clear that Kelton is a damn fine writer; and in the end, despite Flagg's "heroic" efforts to resist government aid, the novel ends on a note as bleak and unforgiving as any I've seen, which is just the way I like my endings. So I would welcome a chance to read one of his less personal, less politically motived historical Westerns.

  • Mike
    2019-04-23 21:17

    The setting is a 7 year drought on a West Texas ranch in the 1950's. Kelton grew up on a West Texas ranch in the 20's and 30's and brings the culture and country vividly to life. The main character, Charlie Flagg, is, of course, a rancher of the old libertarian strain and is modeled on Kelton's father. He is a man of principles who won't accept government aid for the drought and, as it turns out, it didn't make any difference anyway. This book was written in 1973 and is sympathetic to illegal aliens, just like our West Texas President. But,I don't think the book is intended as political philosophy. The theme seems to be to never give up, and in the end Charlie has endured even though he has lost all his cattle and is barely making it with a herd sheep. This book was a pleasure to read. Kelton is a great artist. The characters are well drawn and the dialogue is engaging and true to the culture. The story covers 7 years but the narrative is perfectly continuous. The story is very emotional and drew me into it.

  • Adam Bruns
    2019-04-06 18:26

    Ever read or watched Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing"? The funny misnomer of the title for the Shakespearean comedy was that there was a great deal happening in that play. To be blunt, I will from now on remember this Kelton novel as "The Time That Nothing Really Happened. Seriously." I had a hard time engaging this novel in the first 15 pages, but since this was a book to be read for a grad school course, I chugged on. The first 200 pages were incredibly boring. Anything interesting that happened would take up 1 to 10 pages worth of space. Things didn't really pick up until the last 50 pages. The whole novel felt like a journal where each chapter was a journal entry. If you could cut out the irrelevant bits, this "western" novel could be less than 200 pages. Would give this zero stars, but felt that Kelton did an amazing job creating the characters and setting that this could warrant at least one star. But yes, I "did not like it."

  • Aaron Shipman
    2019-03-26 18:25

    This was a good book. It helped me to see how the people struggled with ranching during a drought in West Texas during the '50's. Charlie Flagg fought hard to hold on to what he had and did what he believed was right, but with each choice their is a cost. Charlie paid dearly. The only issue I hav with the book is that I was able to see though Tim's wife right from the get go. Guess I've been around too many of that type of people. With that said, this book also is a window into the human spirit. Seeing how people react to certain situations. What I took away from this book is that each human has a degree of perseverance, hope, and moral standing and it is different for each. I think that it was a good book, and one that I am glad that I read.

  • Dave
    2019-04-01 15:31

    I find myself annoyed at Elmer Kelton. This is well written, and covers the hardships of West Texas ranching well. Yet the protagonist Charlie Flagg gets into trouble by a six year plus drought, and never gets out. Life my be not be a bowl of cherries, but this is all pitts. When it does start to rain again, the books ends with just one more tragic event that removes practically all hope for the character. Several sub-plots are left unresolved. I wanted to like this book, but Kelton never let his character come up for air.

  • Kerry
    2019-03-29 20:31

    listening to this one. I'm not a western fan but this is a great story. am on 4 th cd of 11Finish and must say I will go on to read more of Kelton. This was a great listen with George Guidall who I just love to listen to. It was a tragic tail but not one that made you want to cry more one that made you want to think and to relish how we got to be a great nation. I would recommend the audio book very highly. it was hard to put down

  • Tate Shannon
    2019-04-04 17:36

    Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. I knew Mr. Kelton before he died and he told me this is one of his favorite books. I can't believe it took me this long before I read it.I could not give this book a higher recommendation. It perfectly embodies the life and spirit of the West Texas rancher.

  • Travis
    2019-04-12 20:28

    One of the best book I have ever read. Great insight into the impact of Federalism in the modern west

  • Karleen Koen
    2019-04-06 14:31

    Very spare, very well done, very West Texas

  • Steven Law
    2019-03-29 16:16

    One of the best novels I have ever read. An American classic.

  • John
    2019-04-24 14:31

    Outstanding read!If you seek the soul of the Western border state ranchers and dry farmers, you will find it very difficult to put this book down.

  • Linda
    2019-04-13 15:35

    The story started a bit slow, but that should be expected since it is a story about drought ridden West Tx in the 1950's. I enjoyed the book very much.

  • Fritzov
    2019-03-26 14:14

    Charlie is a crabby farmer that don't like the government.

  • Ann Rieth
    2019-03-31 16:36

    This was an absorbing book, and it dodged the label of 'too depressing' because it had flashes of humor, a curmudgeonly charming and noble main character, and a powerful true story of insidious mismanagement of farming/ranching by the US government! Mostly, however, there was in this story a sense of hope in the face of horrible hardship! I've bought three copies to give to certain people for Christmas!

  • Monty
    2019-04-25 14:24

    Kelton is one of our best Western writers. He is perhaps better known for his Texas Rangers series, which traces the history of Texas, from the early Republic to the 1880's. Kelton grew up on a ranch in West Texas, and the present work is probably based on many of his childhood experiences in the 1950's and 60's The main topic of the present work concerns the six-year "drouth" that affected Texas in the 1950's, with lasting consequences for the ranchers, the towns, and the way of life that had existed for generations. At the heart of the story is the irascible and fiercely independent rancher, Charlie Flagg. Charlie's ranch slowly shrivels as the duration of the drouth continues, and becomes a nightmare. First the cattle are affected and must be sold off. The next to go are the sheep, and finally the goats. Another major theme involves the decision to take Federal money to offset the effects and damages of the drouth, and the consequences of taking that money. In one chapter, the grain supplied by the government arrives in boxcars, and is too old and moldy to be of any use to ranchers. Charlie is one of the last holdouts, a man of rigid, old-fashioned values and stubbornness--who refuses to take "a handout" from the Federal government. His actions will have consequences for his family, his workers, and his community. Another theme of this book is the interaction of ranchers with both the legal and illegal immigrants who cross the border, desperate for survival and work. Charlie has an interesting and surprising relationship with these workers and their families.The resulting shrinkage of ranches and eventual foreclosures effect the towns surrounded by the ranches as well. The situation is a parallel to the Oklahoma and Kansas dustbowl of the 1930's. This book provides an accurate and insightful look at a single natural disaster in our nation's history,and its devastating results.

  • Melissa
    2019-04-20 16:11

    Would it be enough to just tell you to go read this book right now? In simplest terms, it's the story of a West Texas rancher during the horrendous 1950s drought. Kelton weaves the stories of a stubborn man, a dying town, cattle and sheep and goats, immigration, the economy, governmental meddling, relationships, small town life, and trying to stay alive into one heck of a novel. You can feel the heat and the dust, and your heart aches as the ranch slips away.This is one of those books that is almost constantly on the Top 10 Texas book lists. Rightfully so. But like Goodbye to a River, it's one that everyone should read. It's a quiet novel, and yet it will move you in ways that most books seldom do. It's a page turner, but you don't realize it until you look up at the clock and realize how much time and how many pages have passed. Though quintessentially Texas, yet, the characters could be found in any small town and the agricultural struggles could be anywhere.Great conversation at book club--everyone universally adored it and there was talk of forcing it onto others.Highly recommended, even if you never thought you'd touch a "western" novel. A rich, deep, beautiful book that will leave you sighing at the end.

  • Diana
    2019-04-24 14:20

    Found this book very discouraging to read. It was written (in 1973) about Texas in the 1950's.No matter when it was written, the story in agriculture today is still the same. Much of the U.S. is facing a years long draught. People are having to sell their ranches and farms. Things that are the same are: prices for products that do not keep pace with what the rancher or farmer must buy to keep in business. Going to the bank to borrow money to stay in business is still a difficult task that every family dreads.Government programs supposedly offer help to agriculture, but dealing with the government is fraught with problems. The person in the agriculture business never know what strings are attached to government programs.The U.S. continues to have major problems with illegal immigration. It is a challenge to find good workers and retain them.Small towns still find it challenging to stay alive. The farmer and rancher try to support local business, but first they have less and less money to spend. And sometimes they must buy where they get the best price. It is disheartening to drive through rural town and see so many businesses closed up and boarded up.The characters in the book were tough, rough people and were very realistic.

  • Shawnee Bowlin
    2019-04-02 22:19

    Elmer Kelton touched on a subject that almost everyone faces sometime in their lives: hardships. Sometimes it seems like no matter what a person tries to do right, everything works against them. In this case, Charlie's devil was nature, a formidable, unforgiving, and unpredictable force. Farmers and ranchers are at its mercy year-round. But there are many other professions that depend on nature for success, and that's one reason "The Time It Never Rained" appealed to me. As a western, the story was excellent although somewhat depressing. Struggles in the relationships with other people, the struggles of foreigners on American land, marital and financial struggles, government intrusion, and the struggle against people who think a person should just shut up and follow the flock are all very real issues that will continue until the end of time. Charlie was a strong, independent man to be respected and admired for his loyalty to his beliefs even when being true to himself caused him to be an outcast among other ranchers and family members. He did what he felt was right, which is all any of us should do. But was that his downfall? Decide that for yourself!

  • Tressa
    2019-03-27 17:38

    Elmer Kelton’s The Time it Never RainedKelton paints a portrait of the internal struggle to maintain autonomy amid the external challenges of the arid west.After The Time it Never Rained:Jeanette Walls’ Half-Broke Horses The tale of a woman who faces life’s challenges head-on, whether she’s riding her pony solo for several days to her first job or running hootch to support her family during the Great Depression.Gin Phillips’ The Well and the Mine This award-winning debut novel takes us from the American West to an Alabama coal-mining town during the Great Depression. A tight-knit miner’s family struggles against poverty. Stagecoach (black and white, 1939) is an action-packed Western that leaves you with the notion that a person’s worth is defined by what they do rather than by their place in society. The script was adapted from the 1880 Guy de Maupassant short story “Boule de Suif.” With 7 Oscar nominations and 2 wins, this is the movie that brought John Wayne to the public eye.

  • Lostinanovel
    2019-04-17 15:11

    I enjoyed this book because I couldn’t help but like Charlie Flagg, a classic stubborn, independent western American rancher. I think most Americans have known men of an older generation at least similar to him. While we see him as antiquated, that opinion shames us a little bit. That said, the story is a bit predictable and the characters generally a little too simple. We get that Flagg is stubborn but we don’t get any sense of internal conflict at all which in a way, detracts. I imagine that the real men like him have to really struggle with themselves before making the correct moral choices. Winning those struggles is more impressive than not having them at all. The writing is good but not great as well. Topics like racism are touched upon but with an obvious modern sensibility. Again, we aren’t given a convincing enough portrait of the internal struggles.**A week late, I am adding a star. I just read how the US government has surprised the big US banks that took TARP aid with a "fee" to help recoup its costs. Too true to the book's teachings for me to ignore.