The Hearts of Men

  • by Nickolas Butler
  • Narrated by Adam Verner
  • 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age 13, social outcast and overachiever, is the bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.
Over the years Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father's business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as scoutmaster and Jonathan's teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths - and the limits - of Nelson's selflessness and bravery.
The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality - and redemption.


What the Critics Say

"[Narrator Adam] Verner brings the necessary pathos to a story that spans decades. He ably gives life to these boys who become men and to the boys that follow. Butler's story, as read by Verner, examines what it means to be a man, exploring the ideas of family, friendship, morality, and bravery." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Tightly wrought unflashy character driven

In this Richard Fordesque novel, Nickolas Butler has given us a tightly woven, character driven novel, a novel that begins in 1962, takes an interlude in 1996, and then finishes in 2019. This is about heroism, family, friendship, love. The story may not be flashy or exciting but it is definitely very instructive, there is wisdom here. The narrative performance was decent as the baritone voice had trouble modulating multiple male voices, some which sounded like radio announcers.
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- Jeff Lacy

A Better Title would be "The Dark Hearts of Men"

I approached this novel expecting it to be a departure from the all-too-common contemporary fiction theme of men as brutish louts. That expectation arose from the title, the fact that Boy Scouting seemed to be the background framework of the plot, that the author is a man, and the descriptions and reviews of the book. While the book is a gripping story, or contains such within it, I found it a disappointing depiction of Boy Scouting and of boys and men in general. Most of the boys and men are people I would never want to know or be around; they fit the stereotype of male brutish louts who are also sex-obsessed, bullying, misogynistic and cowardly. However, I'm sure some will point out that there are some "points of light" in the story, some boys and men who stand out as exceptional, courageous, even heroic. So it seems--until and unless you take a closer look at them. The major character of the book is a bullied Boy Scout who has good character and eventually becomes the Scoutmaster of the camp. I suspect the author and some readers think he's a truly good man, but there is one very long scene where he condones and even seems to encourage the corruption of a young boy with alcohol and sex--even when the boy resists (at first). This very long, too detailed scene in the middle of the book really disappointed me and made me wonder about the author's view of what an exceptionally good-hearted man would do in such a situation. It colored my whole view of the one seemingly consistently good-hearted man in the whole story. The final portion of the novel is about a woman, a mother of a Boy Scout, who is made to feel unwelcome at her son's Boy Scout camp by the Scouts' fathers. I wondered how welcome a father would be at a Girl Scout camp. Well, I don't know, but it was a question that should at least have been brought up by someone in the very long argument in which she was made to feel more than unwelcome by the loutish, brutish, misogynistic, mouth-breathing fathers (without exception). Overall I rate this a potentially good story spoiled, for me, anyway, by the over riding theme of the dark hearts of boys and men.
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- Roger

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-07-2017
  • Publisher: HarperAudio