Gigantic, Enormous, Gargantuan Books

27
William Diehl

As the world trembles with the approach of World War II, a woman dies at the hands of Hitler's henchmen. Her murder forever changes her lover, Francis Scott Keegan, a relentless anti-Nazi mercenary, who becomes locked in a desperate cat-and-mouse game with the Third Reich's perfect spy, a man of a thousand faces. In an arena that encompasses presidents and gangsters, spies and sirens, the deadly present and the dark past, Keegan pursues his elusive quarry into the cutting edge of world events--and into the secret inner workings of a terrifying mission known only as "27."

Vikram Seth
Set in the post-colonial India of the 1950s, this sprawling saga involves four families--the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis and the Khans--whose domestic crises illuminate the historical and social events of the era. Like an old-fashioned soap opera (or a Bombay talkie), the multi-charactered plot pits mothers against daughters, fathers against sons, Hindus against Muslims and small farmers against greedy landowners facing government-ordered dispossession. The story revolves around independent-minded Lata Mehra: Will she defy the stern order of her widowed upper-caste Hindu mother by marrying the Muslim youth she loves? The search for Lata's husband expands into a richly detailed and exotically vivid narrative that crisscrosses the fabric of India
MacKinlay Kantor

"Before there were The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals there was Andersonville. MacKinlay Kantor won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1955 for this novel, an epic account of the notorious prison camp in Macon County, Georgia. Though many of his characters are fictional, many are based on historical figures. Even some of the minor characters who appear as suffering prisoners of war are historical. Writing in the early fifties it was perhaps inevitable that Kantor drew subtle echoes of the Nazi concentration camps as he told this grim story of the greatest of Confederate war crimes. Kantor spent most of his life studying and writing about the Civil War. His emphasis was always on the small-town, ordinary citizens confronted with the horrors of Civil War.'

Leo Tolstoy

"Regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written in any language, Anna Karenina relates the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer Count Vronsky. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, Anna's tragedy unfolds with relentless force as she rejects her passionless marriage to the aging official Karenin and must endure the hypocrisies of society."

Ayn Rand

The decisions of a few industrial leaders shake the roots of capitalism and reawaken man's awareness of himself as a heroic being.

James A. Michener

Master storyteller James A. Michener sweeps us off to the Caribbean,with a magnificent novel that captures the eternal allure of that glittering string of islands and their tumultuous history. Beginning in 1310 and continuing through Columbus's arrival and the bloody slave revolt of Haiti to the rise of Castro, Caribbean carries us through 700 dramatic years in a tale teeming with revolution and romance, slavery and superstition, heartfelt characters and thunderous destinies.

Frank Herbert

Follows the adventures of Paul Atreides, the son of a betrayed duke given up for dead on a treacherous desert planet and adopted by its fierce, nomadic people, who help him unravel his most unexpected destiny.

On Film: people either love or hate David's Lynch's film version of Dune. But one thing you shouldn't miss is Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Paul Atreides. Having read the book first makes enjoying the movie easier.

Leon Uris

Published in 1958, this 600-page novel was a sensation as millions read Uris' detailed, heroic chronicle of European Jewry from the turn of the century to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The novel was translated into dozens of languages and was even distributed secretly in communist countries. The birth of a new nation was depicted through many characters, but the story of an American nurse and an Israeli freedom fighter formed the nucleus of the work. Uris traveled to Palestine and covered the Arab-Israeli hostilities as a war correspondent. Two years later his masterpiece Exodus was published. Always known for the exacting detail of his research, Uris reportedly traveled over fifty thousand miles and interviewed over 1,200 people in preparation for writing the novel.
The 1960 movie version of Exodus, starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint, was nominated for three Oscars. Paul Newman looked his absolute gorgeous best in this movie.

James Jones

First published in 1951, From Here to Eternity brought author James Jones immediate fame and won him a National Book Award. The novel tells the story of the life of American soldiers stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii in the months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Jones accurately captured the isolation and boredom of the military personnel in a close-knit Army barracks, combining social and military history with the drama of the personal lives of its main characters - an enlisted man and a neglected officer's wife, and a prostitute and a military outcast. The novel was translated into a powerful film in 1953. Although the film toned down the raw sexuality and violence of Jones' novel, it captured the essence of the book and featured outstanding performances by Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra.

Margaret Mitchell

Spoiled Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara never stops loving the married Ashley Wilkes even as she faces the hardships of life during the Civil War and the changes brought about by Reconstruction.
 

Barbara Wood
In 1917, Dr. Grace Treverton arrives in Kenya, determined to bring modern medicine to the African natives. Her brother, Sir Valentine Treverton, has his own dream for the British protectorate: to establish an agricultural empire to rival any in England.

The aspirations of the wealthy Trevertons collide with those of the Mathenge tribe, an African family that has lived on the land for years. Grace soon finds a deadly rival in Mama Wachera, an African medicine woman who fights to maintain native traditions against the encroaching whites. After Wachera curses the Trevertons, a series of tragedies threatens to destroy what the once-great family fought to create. But the fates of future generations of these two remarkable families are inextricably bound.

James Michener
"...James Michener, introduced an entire generation of readers to a lush, exotic world in the Pacific with this classic novel. But it is also a novel about people, people of strength and character; the Polynesians; the fragile missionaries; the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos who intermarried into a beautiful race called Hawaiians. Here is the story of their relationships, toils, and successes, their strong aristocratic kings and queens and struggling farmers, all of it enchanting and very real in this almost mythical place."
Peter Straub

"'KOKO...'

Only four men knew what it meant. They were Vietnam vets-a doctor, a lawyer, a working stiff, and a writer. They were as different as men could be. Yet all of them were bound eternally together by a single shattering secret. And now they have been reunited, on a quest that will take them from the graveyards and fleshpots of the Far East to the human jungle of New York...as they hunt something inhuman from the past that has risen from the darkness to kill and kill and kill...."

First of the Blue Rose Trilogy, including Mystery and The Throat.

Gore Vidal

Lincoln is the cornerstone of Gore Vidal's fictional American chronicle, which includes Burr, 1876Empire, Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and The Golden Age.

"It opens early on a frozen winter morning in 1861, when President-elect Abraham Lincoln slips into Washington, flanked by two bodyguards. The future president is in disguise, for there is talk of a plot to murder him. During the next four years there will be numerous plots to murder this man who has sworn to unite a disintegrating nation. Isolated in a ramshackle White House in the center of a proslavery city, Lincoln presides over a fragmenting government as Lee's armies beat at the gates. In this profoundly moving novel, a work of epic proportions and intense human sympathy, Lincoln is observed by his loved ones and his rivals. The cast of characters is almost Dickensian: politicians, generals, White House aides, newspapermen, Northern and Southern conspirators, amiably evil bankers, and a wife slowly going mad. Vidal's portrait of the president is at once intimate and monumental, stark and complex, drawn with the wit, grace, and authority of one of the great historical novelists."

Part of Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series.

Larry McMurtry

"Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.

"Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.

Call's dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but draws in a vast cast of characters:

  • Lorena, the whore with the proverbial heart of gold, whom Gus (and almost everyone else) loves, and who survives one of the most terrifying experiences any woman could have...
  • Elmira, the restless, reluctant wife of a small-time Arkansas sheriff, who runs away from the security of marriage to become part of the great Western adventure...
  • Blue Duck, the sinister Indian renegade, one of the most frightening villains in American fiction, whose steely capacity for cruelty affects the lives of everyone in the book...
  • Newt, the young cowboy for whom the long and dangerous journey from Texas to Montana is in fact a search for his own identity...
  • Jake, the dashing, womanizing exRanger, a comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, whose weakness leads him to an unexpected fate...
  • July Johnson, husband of Elmira, whose love for her draws him out of his secure life into the wilderness, and turns him into a kind of hero..."
John Jakes

When their two sons meet as West Point cadets, the southern, plantation-owning Main family and the industrialist Hazards of Pennsylvania find their lives interlocked, as the nation moves toward Civil War.
Continues with Love and War and Heaven and Hell.

Diane Gabaldon

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Edward Rutherfurd

"Spanning 1800 years of Russia's history, people, politics, and culture, Edward Rurtherford, author of the phenomenally successful Sarum: The Novel of England, tells a grand saga that is as multifaceted as Russia itself. Here is a story of a great civilization made human, played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land."

Margaret George
"Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas ore; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute. Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination Margaret George bring us Henry VIII's story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confident, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly than he has ever been seen before."
Janny Wurts

It began with a Mistwraith that smothered all the world in fog and dampness, followed by a war that upended order and overthrew the rule of the High Kings. Now, two rival brothers must unite to clear the skies of the deadly Mistwraith if their world is to survive.
Volume one of The Wars of Light and Shadow. Immediate sequels are Ships of Merior and Warhost of Vastmark.
 

Tad Williams

"The Dragonbone Chair is the story of Simon, a young kitchen boy and magician's
apprentice whose dreams of great deeds and heroic wars come all too shockingly
true when his world is torn apart by a terrifying civil war--a war fueled by ancient
hatreds, immortal enemies, and the dark powers of sorcery."
Book one of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series.  Sequels are Stone of Farewell and To the Green Angel Tower.

J.R.R. Tolkien

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron's power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but ever he searched far and wide for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

On his eleventy-first birthday Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest --- to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard, Merry, Pippin, and Sam, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir of Gondor, and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Stephen King

"This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

"And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man."

John Hersey

Riveting and compelling, The Wall tells the inspiring story of forty men and women who escape the dehumanizing horror of the Warsaw ghetto. John Hersey's novel documents the Warsaw ghetto both as an emblem of Nazi persecution and as a personal confrontation with torture, starvation, humiliation, and cruelty -- a gripping and visceral story, impossible to put down. This book was the number 4 best selling novel of 1950. The 1982 film based on this book is available on DVD.

Leo Tolstoy
"A sweeping, romantic saga of two noble families and their intertwined destiny, and a panoramic portrait of Russian society at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Tolstoy's unforgettable masterpiece has inspired love and devotion in its readers for generations.

"Now read the original version of Russia's most famous novel, which never made it to publication in Tolstoy's lifetime. Undiscovered for more than a century, this edition-with its subtly different characters, dialogue, and ending-is essential reading for devotees of Tolstoy and new readers alike: it is world-class fiction in its most vivid and vital form."