The Harder They Come

The Harder They Come

by T. C. Boyle


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Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent in the American character.

Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people—an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover—as they careen towards an explosive confrontation.

On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal—only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.

Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic—a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.

As he explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062349385
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 339,510
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

T. C. Boyle is an American novelist and short-story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published fourteen novels and ten collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his novel World's End, and the Prix Medicis etranger for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, as well as the 2014 Henry David Thoreau award for excellence in nature writing. He is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Southern California and lives in Santa Barbara.

Graham Hamilton is an actor and voice artist currently living in Los Angeles. His TV credits include appearances on CSI, NCIS, Ugly Betty, and Guiding Light.


Santa Barbara California

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1948

Place of Birth:

Peekskill, New York


B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977

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The Harder They Come 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
T.C. Boyle keeps getting better. Chapter 1 was rather boring but get past it because beginning with Chapter 2, you can't stop reading. T.C. is able to convey emotions so well that you're practically standing in the room with the characters feeling for them and knowing them. And the chase, omg the chase, what a heart pounding few pages
emannepnyc More than 1 year ago
Great story. Great plotting. Decent characters. All makes for a really good read. Fun. Riveting. Fast. Perfect for summer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This latest book by T.C. Boyle lives up to his reputation. I have enjoyed every book of his that I have read so far. His beautiful writing along with the story he tells keeps you wanting more. ENJOY !!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. I quite enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like loopy nonsequential storytelling AND plot lines here you go. Run on, great author. Run on. Lackluster storytelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very readable, but not crazy about the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book changed my life forever
lynnbarry More than 1 year ago
  "There was no way out and it didn't really matter. You just had to be as hard as hard and make your own legend and let the chips fall where they may." I found these words jump out at me in a paragraph that summarized the theme of The Harder They Come, describing all the characters' motives, a camaraderie of folks hellbent on being as "hard as hard" making their own legends.   Adam, coincidentally the name of the first man in biblical times is also the name of the problematic son and the main character at the center of finding his own "hard as hard" path, flipping from historic hard men of the past and in the shadow of his formidable father. This conflicted free spirit banded together with another free spirit, Sara, who was as committed to staying true to her "hard as hard" path as Adam. Together they seemed to be thrill seekers, finding excitement in disobedience whenever they could, opting for non-traditional reactions, such as Sara not complying when pulled over by law enforcement for not wearing her seatbelt. Sara was briefly summed up in the following from the novel, "A free bird, free bird on the land." Younger then her by many years, Adam is also pinned down in the words, "…he was disconnected and proud of it and had been since he was what, fourteen , fifteen?" His life was playing out like he was starring in his own real life video game.    Sten and Carolee as the parents of Adam were summarized succinctly in the following passage, "Fatherhood. He'd never really wanted it, never sought it, and it came on her late when Carolee, at age thirty-nine had found herself pregnant. We're blessed, she'd told him, her face composed round the news, truly blessed."    The opening of the novel attempted to show retirees doing retiree activities on a cruise but Sten could not help play out the following perfect sum up from the novel of his inner Marine-Viet Nam veteran-HS Principal-when up against a bully core, "…what was his philosophy? Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. Or no, that was too harsh. Just be, that was all."   It seemed the conflicts lay in the struggle of father understanding son, "…and so what if he was the principal's son? Was it really all that much of a burden?…" And in the complex relationship between Sara's twisted infatuation with Adam and how she analyzed her attraction to him, "She was his mother, His mother and his lover. And they were going to kill him."    In the end Adam's actual mother Carolee kept true to her "hard as hard" path of, "…composed round the news, truly blessed." 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with richard hurtz
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but bad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jzzwol Ppe
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sounds like a good title for a porn novel.