Free ePUB Days Without End –

Thomas McNulty, aged barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine in Ireland, signs up for the US Army in the s With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas goes on to fight in the Indian Wars—against the Sioux and the Yurok—and, ultimately, the Civil War Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in Moving from the plains of Wyoming to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language An intensely poignant story of two men and the makeshift family they create with a young Sioux girl, Winona, Days Without End is a fresh and haunting portrait of the most fateful years in American history and is a novel never to be forgotten

10 thoughts on “Days Without End

  1. Jaline Jaline says:

    Sebastian Barry is not a writer. He is an alchemist who turns what is base and depressing and disastrous into gold that sparkles with exuberance, a sense of adventure, and hope. And a vein of optimistic and wide-eyed wonder runs through the gold like silver.

    This novel tells the story of two young orphaned boys who happen to take shelter beneath the same shrub in a rainstorm and become fast friends. They experience hardship together where hunger and lack of decent clothing and no shelter is hard to bear, but they do survive and find ways to ensure their basic needs are taken care of. They follow what small opportunities knock - right into the army out west. They grow in love with each other and they adopt as their own a little orphaned Sioux girl to love and take care of.

    There is far more in this story to discover as their adventures also include a ferocious stint in the Union army during the Civil War – until they are captured.

    The time frame of this story has to have been one of the most brutal in the history of the United States. Persecution of different races was everywhere; immigrants of all kinds were at risk no matter where they found themselves. There was always someone meaner, more filled with hatred, and/or more desperate who was willing to put their own life on the line to take the life and possessions of another.

    For the narrator Thomas McNulty and his partner John Cole, this was their way of life and they learned to take care of themselves – and each other – because that was part of their way of life as well. This was also a time when some people started questioning this life and lifestyle, and Thomas and John were two of those people. They didn’t put themselves in jeopardy if they could help it, but they also did what they could - whenever they could - to right the wrongs they encountered.

    The writing. Oh my, the magic of it. There may have been five sentences in the entire book that weren’t quote-worthy. If so, I didn’t find them.

    Then the rain began to fall in an extravagant tantrum. High up in mountain country though we were, every little river became a huge muscled snake, and the water wanted to find out everything, the meaning of our sad roofs for instance, the meaning of our bunk beds beginning to take on the character of little barks, the sure calculation that if it fell day and night no human man was going to get his uniform dry. We was wet to the ribs.

    This story, the way it was presented, and the way it flows on the page are an ultimate gift. Despite the discomfort I felt reading of the brutality of the time, this is one of the best novels I have read this year. It is also the best writing I have ever encountered. This book is going straight onto my all-time Favorites bookshelf and I would give it 10 Stars if it were possible.

  2. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Wow.....I admit to staying away from this book — and then I read Jaline’s review.

    I don’t think I really knew what to expect...but whatever it was - it wasn’t this!
    Jaline’s review was a clear punch in the stomach - I felt an urgency to read it. I finished it seconds ago. Since there are already many wonderful reviews on Goodreads ....
    I’m only going to add a few things:
    I’m glad I read it.
    The Indian Wars and Civil Wars were horrific — brutal!.....with no real heroes or villains. Too many lives were lost for anyone to feel good.
    But two young men looked back on their youth —

    Sebastian Barry deserves all the attention he is getting for this book. His writing is brilliant, beautiful, educational, humorous, gut-wrenching, intimate, gripping, poetic, and raw,
    This is also a deeply felt love story between two men — it would be hard-nose for anyone not to fall in love with both of them and their love for their daughter.

    There are a zillion quotes worthy to read and re-read.....
    But I’ll post one that resonates so profoundly with me hurts just knowing War continues in our world.

    “Killing hurts the heart, and soils the soul”.

  3. Annet Annet says:

    A wonderfully poetic book, about a violent period in America's history. I would compare it to McCarthy's Blood Meridian although different in style. But both bloody stories, told in the poetic voice of two different authors. A contradiction of poetry and bloody war which in a weird way works, delivering a heartfelt book.
    Not an easy read for me, but beautifully written... Focus was essential for me to really appreciate the story. Because of study and work, I wasn't able to do so at first, and oh, the book I had was so tiny and the pages crammed with text. But once past this barrier, the story came alive and the reading needs to be slow to really appreciate this story. Four poetic stars....

  4. Hannah Greendale Hannah Greendale says:

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

    A heartrending, vivid retelling of the Indian Wars, recounted by a protagonist with a distinct and memorable narrative voice. Days Without End being absent from the 2017 Man Booker shortlist is a travesty.

  5. Diane Barnes Diane Barnes says:

    My friend Wyndy recommended this book to me, and in her own review said that she didn't write well enough to do justice to this book. The truth is that no one does. It contains worlds, but at it's heart is the story of 3 people coming together to make a family. It is told through the eyes and in the words of Thomas McNulty, and his language carries you away like a river. I give you some of his words:

    We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world.

    Man, we was so clean and nice, I wished I could have met myself.

    A man's memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can't do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards. I ain't got no argument with it, just saying it is so.

    There's old sorrow in your blood like second nature and new sorrow that maddens the halls of sense. Causes an uproar there.

    Killing hurts the heart and soils the soul.

    In my exaltation I forget I ain't got a bean of money but it don't concern me and I know I can rely on the kindness of folk along the way. The ones that don't try to rob me will feed me. That's how it is in America. I never felt such joy of heart as in those days traipsing southward.

    I could give you many more because honestly, every sentence in this novel sparkles with beauty at the same time it grabs you by the throat. An unbelievable tale of the building of America, and how, in the end, love really is the only thing that matters.

  6. Angela M Angela M says:

    A story of the American West and the Civil War told by a young Irish immigrant, written by an Irish author ??????

    If it weren’t for the glowing reviews of some trusted Goodreads friends I may have skipped this, and I’m so glad I didn’t because this book works so well on so many levels. First and foremost it was the writing with language that soars in its simplicity. Secondly, Barry gives us big slice of American history in such a small volume, which is powerful and painful to read at times. This is not for the faint of heart as there are some vivid descriptions of brutality but if you can get past these there is amidst the violence and brutality, beauty in the love and a sense of family found here .

    I’ve read other books by Sebastian Barry but this one was different not focusing on Irish family plights, although our narrator Thomas McNulty has fled the famine in Ireland . It’s impossible to not get connected to Thomas and John Cole , orphaned boys who find each hiding under a bush and find in each other a friend, a partner in survival, a partner in life, in horrendous deeds, in war and their love for a young Sioux girl who becomes their daughter.

    I’m not going to rehash the plot here. There are many reviews which will give more detail. I’m not sure I can say anything more than I have, other than highly recommended. I will though, link to two stellar reviews that convinced me to read this.

    Jaline’s review:

    Hugh’s review:

  7. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    Fabulous storytelling and narrative voice. The excitement of this novel told in feverish lyrical prose is unrelenting. We get an intimate first-hand account of the plains wars with the Sioux, the civil war and the lawlessness of the settler towns in the wild west. There’s barely a page in this novel where you’re not fearing for the lives of the novel’s three central characters who form a misfit family – two male lovers and their adopted Indian child. The surface of this novel is dazzling.

    Beneath the surface it wasn’t perhaps quite so successful. There’s so much action in this novel that the characters barely have time to talk to each other which means we don’t get to know them very well. And the narrator doesn’t do nuance where his friends are concerned. He’s unremittingly generous. Therefore, we learn little about his companions except that they are flawless human beings, deserving of our full sympathy. In this respect I couldn’t help comparing it a little unfavorably with Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang – another novel narrated lyrically by a semi-educated outcast with lots of exciting plot but also with some great character development – something this novel does lack. For example, the Sioux girl the two men adopt has little more personality than a domestic pet. She adapts to her new life like a domestic pet as well, as if she has no long-term memory. She’s there to make us feel more protective of the characters and though this works as a device one never really sees her or believes much in her. The depiction of the Sioux in general was rather lazy, expedient and erroneously cliched. Barry invents a chief who behaves how the plot needs him to behave. (I’ve read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and watched the excellent TV series Into the West and as far as I recall the real chief at that time would have been Red Cloud who was a lot more savvy and honorable than Barry’s rather slapstick Caught-His-Horse-First.

    However, these are small gripes as Days Without End is a riveting read from start to finish. For those who’ve already read and loved this I’d recommend True History of the Kelly Gang.

  8. Cheri Cheri says:

    Sebastian Barry’s “Days Without End” was a bit reminiscent to me of the strange travels in “News of the World” with writing that reminded me of my grandfather’s reading to me of Walt Whitman. Not that I haven’t read Whitman on my own, but I only hear it anymore in my grandfather’s voice.

    There’s a lovely, if somber, touch to the writing, with prose that sings the song of every man.

    “We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world.”

    This story is narrated by a young Thomas McNulty, a youth who fled Ireland during the time of the Great Famine, came to America, and after many years surviving as a dancer in a saloon along with his then new-found friend John Cole, they volunteered and joined the Army when he was seventeen, or thereabouts, in Missouri.

    ”If you had all your limbs they took you. If you were a one-eyed boy they might take you too even so. The only pay worse than the worst pay in America was army pay.”

    “ Yes, the army took me, I’m proud to say. Thank God John Cole was my first friend in America and so in the army too and the last friend for that matter. He was with me nearly all through this exceeding surprising Yankee sort of life which was good going in every way. No more than a boy like me but even at sixteen years old he looked like a man right enough. I first saw him when he was fourteen or so, very different. That’s what the saloon owner said too.”

    They go off, at first, to fight the Indian Wars against the Sioux and the Yurok, and then later, the Civil War. Between those two wars, they bring an eight year-old Sioux girl to live with them. A girl that Mrs. Neale, the Major’s wife, had been teaching, she had learned English and her letters and numbers, along with some cooking skills. Still, Mrs. Neale only agrees to allow this after Thomas assures her that they only want this girl for a servant and not for “their own solace,” and he promises to protect her as his own child. They call her Winona, and from thereon she is known as John Cole’s daughter in a legal sense, but in reality they view her as nothing less than their daughter.

    ” I guess it’s long ago now. Seems to sit right up in front of my eyes just now though.”

    Time. The passage of time is one of the details of life he often reflects on.

    ”Time was not something then we thought of as an item that possessed an ending, but something that would go on forever, all rested and stopped in that moment. Hard to say what I mean by that. You look back at all the endless years when you never had that thought. I am doing that now as I write these words in Tennessee. I am thinking of the days without end of my life.”

    Nature is another object of his reflections. Life in the war and after, the endless nights of sleeping in cold so bitter and deep it could take your life. Days and nights so hot you could barely breathe. The land. The sky viewed as if it were a painting.

    ”Now in these different districts, the sun came up that bit earlier, more eagerly, more like the baker putting fire into his bread oven, in the small hours, so the women in the town would have bread bright early. Lord, that sun rose regular and sere, he didn’t care who saw him, naked and round and white. Then the rains came walking over the land, as exciting the new grasses, thundering down, hammering like fearsome little bullets, making the shards and dusts of the earth dance a violent jig. Making the grass seeds drunk with ambition. Then the sun pouring in after the rain, and the wide endless prairie steaming, a vast and endless vista of white steam rising, and the flocks of birds wheeling and turning, a million birds to one cloud, we’d a needed a blunderbuss to harvest them, small black fleet wondrous birds.”

    Life, what comprises a life at the end of it, the things we recall when stripped down to the days when our breaths can be counted.

    ”A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards.”

    War is brutal, gloomy, dark and disturbing, and yet this book couldn’t be more poetic, more powerful, more remarkable, more captivating, more of a pleasure to read, or just plain lovelier.

    Many thanks to my good Goodreads friend Gearóid for recommending Sebastian Barry to me (for some time now), and now that I’ve finally read this one, I intend to read them all! Gearóid’s review of Days Without End:


  9. Sam Sam says:

    Sometimes you know you ain't a clever man. But likewise sometimes the fog of usual thoughts clears off in a sudden breeze of sense and you see things clear a moment like a clearing country. We blunder through and call it wisdom but it ain't. They say we be Christians and suchlike but we ain't. They say we are creatures raised by God above the animals but any man that has lived knows that's damned lies.

    Days Without End is extremely well-written historical fiction that overall left me admiring the prose and language far more than enjoying the somewhat improbable circumstances and unfolding events of the novel. This was my first time reading Sebastian Barry, and his talent to turn a phrase and paint with words vivid descriptions all in the voice of a singular character is incredible. I felt a bit removed though from the proceedings: even though I believed the emotions and ideas described, I myself was not invested in the outcome, mainly because the ending felt inevitable and a bit predictable (if not also sentimental and satisfying). But I thoroughly loved the writing: the descriptions, dialogue, and reflections on war and brutality and suffering and friendship were so grounded in reality and yet elevated to almost poetry in terms of the beauty. I'd probably give this 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 for its overall literary excellence, even if I wasn't emotionally connected or drawn into the characters and events to the same extent as I was hooked on the craft.

    I may continue to flesh out this review as I let this full story digest with me, but for now, I would recommend this to readers of literary and historical fiction with interest in the American West and Civil War, who embrace a somewhat slow tale in which the writing holds more attention than the events.

    -received ARC on edelweiss thanks to Viking and Penguin Random House

  10. Paula Paula says:

    I loved, loved this book! Days Without End is one of the finest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. (I’ve luckily been able to say this twice this year!)

    Winner of the Costa Book Award, this historical fiction is about two young Irish men leaving the great famine behind to come to America. Thomas McNulty, in the first narrative, takes us through American history with his best friend and partner, John Cole, by joining the Army to make a living. A violently written novel, the author, Sebastian Barry, vividly portrays the US Indian wars and the Civil War. His two main characters are the finest of mankind. Two people you would love to count as friends. Fighting men as brave as they come, but also fiercely loyal and kind-hearted.

    What a joy to listen to the Irish brogue of Aidan Kelly. I am thankful to have decided on the audiobook. The writing had me looking through the eyes of McNulty like I was there throughout their hardships and adventures.

    Unbeknownst to me, Sebastian Barry is an Irish poet, playwright, and novelist. Days Without End shows his poetic influence. Just beautifully written. I will most certainly be reading more of his books.

    Highly recommend.
    5 out of 5 stars.