The Great Leader by Jim Harrison

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Synopsis

Author Jim Harrison has won international acclaim for his masterful body of work, including Returning to Earth, Legends of the Fall and over thirty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In his most original work to date, Harrison delivers an enthralling, witty and expertly-crafted novel following one man’s hunt for an elusive cult leader, dubbed “The Great Leader.”

On the verge of retirement, Detective Sunderson begins to investigate a hedonistic cult, which has set up camp near his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At first, the self-declared Great Leader seems merely a harmless oddball, but as Sunderson and his sixteen-year-old sidekick dig deeper, they find him more intelligent and sinister than they realized. Recently divorced and frequently pickled in alcohol, Sunderson tracks his quarry from the woods of Michigan to a town in Arizona, filled with criminal border-crossers, and on to Nebraska, where the Great Leader’s most recent recruits have gathered to glorify his questionable religion. But Sunderson’s demons are also in pursuit of him.

Rich with character and humor, The Great Leader is at once a gripping excursion through America’s landscapes and the poignant story of a man grappling with age, lost love and his own darker nature.
 

About Jim Harrison

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Jim Harrison is the author of over thirty books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including Legends of the Fall, The Road Home, Returning to Earth, and The Summer He Didn't Die. A member of American Academy of Arts and Letters and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he has had work published in twenty-seven languages. Harrison lives in Montana and Arizona.
 
Published October 4, 2011 by Grove Press. 353 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Great Leader

Kirkus Reviews

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Tracking the on-the-lam menace from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the Arizona wastes, Sunderson gets literally stoned by crazed Dwightniks, has sex with another (atop a woodpile), tangles with deranged desperado Xavier (who slays with an artificial hand), takes a break to visit his own 85-year-ol...

Sep 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

The New York Times

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Jim Harrison’s rugged hero is on the trail of an elusive cult leader.

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Publishers Weekly

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But Dwight barely appears on the page, leaving the detective often ruminating on his own distrust of money and spirituality, and obsessing about sex—which he actually gets a fair amount of for an overweight, drunk, sardonic, 64-year-old bachelor, despite his belief that the “biological impera...

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

New York Journal of Books

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The Great Leader is some of Jim Harrison’s best work.” Once again, Jim Harrison has written a book, The Great Leader, that proves he is one of America’s greatest authors, cherished worldwide.

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Star Tribune

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Harrison's novel seems stuck in neutral, though that may be part of the novel's point: that retirement fills us with confusion and ennui.

Oct 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Book Reporter

After nearly 40 years, Simon Sunderson retires from the Michigan State Police.

Oct 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

The Washington Times

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Jim Harrison, one of America's premier novelists, is definitely not going gentle into that good night. In his last several novels, Mr. Harrison, 74, has featured old horn toads who sound suspiciously like ... himself.

Feb 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Washington Independent Review of Books

When Dwight leaves Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to relocate his followers in the Arizona backcountry, the aging but irrepressibly randy Sunderson follows the cult to ground and promptly gets stoned — literally stoned — for his trouble and for his failure to recognize just how out of his element he ...

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

to meet and interview members who would turn over their life savings -- and their adolescent daughters -- to a leader whose teachings are nebulous and seemingly deranged: "[As] a student of history Sunderson had been mystified since college with the particularities of the relationship between mon...

Oct 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

“He wondered if religion was partly the love for an imaginary parent and whether any steps to make contact with this parent were justifiable.” Once, many years ago when I was living in Northern Michigan, Jim Harrison walked into the restaurant where I was dining.

Oct 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Bookmarks Magazine

In his most original work to date, Harrison delivers an enthralling, witty and expertly-crafted novel following one man’s hunt for an elusive cult leader, dubbed “The Great Leader.”

On the verge of retirement, Detective Sunderson begins to investigate a hedonistic cult, which has set up ca...

Oct 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

The New Yorker

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Nov 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

AARP

village of Ontonagon, and now — after an accusation that Dwight had sex with the 12-year-old daughter of a follower — Sunderson suspects the self-anointed “Great Leader” of having used raccoon blood to fake his own death.

Dec 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

The Coast

The Great Leader is a compulsive read, though there is little redemption in an aging chauvinistic alcoholic who spends more time objectifying women than solving crime, it’s still engaging to watch him blunder his way to a conclusion, especially as the line that separates hunter from prey begins t...

Nov 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Great Leader

Reader Rating for The Great Leader
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