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Grass Roots: A Will Lee Novel Signet Reissue edition Stuart Woods


3rd April 2013 Literature & Fiction 33 Comments

In this early thriller from Stuart Woods, attorney Will Lee returns to his Georgia roots-and gets involved in a political firestorm that could make or break his career.

A senate election, a controversial murder trial and a string of vigilante killings are compelling plot elements woven into this “tautly drawn suspense novel.” PW noted that although the ingenuity runs out in the final chapters, “Woods’s headlong storytelling style is stoked with enough sex and violence to ignite a TV miniseries.”
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

When Georgia Senator Ben Carr has a stroke, his chief of staff, Will Lee, decides to run for Carr’s seat. Concurrently Lee has been appointed public defender for a white man accused of murdering a young black woman–a case full of explosive racial tension. The election campaign is a nasty one involving a militaristic right-wing group, a TV evangelist with a mission, and a power-hungry governor. The various plot lines, though a little too contrived, move the story at a smart pace. A consummate storyteller, Woods ( Under the Lake , LJ 6/1/87) demonstrates his narrative ability by intertwining contemporary southern politics and the murder trial into a most satisfying tale.
- Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Grass Roots: A Will Lee Novel










  • 33 responses to "Grass Roots: A Will Lee Novel Signet Reissue edition Stuart Woods"

  • Doug Monroe
    2:36 on April 3rd, 2013
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    I agree with what one reveiwer said – Stuart Woods is a slam-bang storyteller! I’ve read all his books and have enjoyed everyone of them. This book seems so realistic, you can just picture the characters in your mind. For a fast-paced page turner, that you don’t want to end, read Stuart Woods.

  • Abi Shaan
    4:18 on April 3rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    To really appreciate Run Before the Wind, you have to read Mr. Woods Memior, Blue Water Green Skipper first. He has taken a great deal of what took place during (and before)the 1976 OSTAR race and turned in into a stunning novel. I found myself unable and unwilling to put it down.

    I admire Mr. Woods ability to put some of these more difficult events into such a gripping novel and wonder if maybe it had a cathartic effect for him. I had previously been a devoted Stone Barrington fan, but since reading many of his backlist, I am now an enthusiastic Stuart Woods fan!

  • J. Stephen Pope
    6:12 on April 3rd, 2013
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    I do not think that Stuart Woods has ever disappointed me. “Grassroots” is intricately plotted with absorbing parallel stories that work their way to the same bad guys. Mr. Woods writes in a way that makes the pages fly by. It’s easy to pull for the good guys and it is impossible to work up any sympathy for the villains. The protagonist (Senatorial candidate Will Lee) is scheduled to reappear in Mr. Woods’ next novel (“The Run”). After reading “Grassroots” I shall be first in line when “The Run” hits the stores sometime in May. Mr. Woods has a most entertaining series currently going with bon vivant lawyer Stone Barrington that I find to be great fun.

  • JessieHR
    8:45 on April 3rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    the last time i checked stuart woods has written 48 novels. i am going to read all of them which is 21 so far. the whitney library has probably most of them and what they don’t have i buy, read and donate. like all of woods’ books grass roots was very entertaining, twists and turns and just good reading. everyone should read it.

  • Chelsea Aubin
    11:04 on April 3rd, 2013
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    As many other reviewers here correctly point out, this one is not the usual Stuart Woods suspense yarn–it’s a coming of age story that is definitely in the Conroy mode. As a Conroy fan, I don’t find it so much a letdown as a change of pace that works well. Will Lee (later on in 2001 he’s Presidential candidate Will Lee–but that’s another story) is a bit of a stick-at-naught kid who according to his father Billy can’t even finish model kits. So he decides to do the cliche “year abroad” thing after he gets his bachelors. He thinks of trying the “free man in Paris” number (you know, like that Joni Mitchell song) but he visits his mother’s family in Ireland just in time to land in the middle of the 1960s era of the “troubles”. One hell of a dilemma for a nice Georgia boy who just wants to find himself. As a real-life member of his generation, I was able to relate to that back then. As another reviewer points out, this is volume 2 of the Lee Family Saga (“Chiefs” before it–”Grass Roots” and “The Run” after), but when you look at all four books, I would have to say this is the opener of a Will Lee Trilogy, with “Chiefs” as a prequel. And it stands as proof that Woods can write about more than suspense. A good thing for a reader like me–Pat Conroy books are few and far between.

  • Keturah Bellus
    13:07 on April 3rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Another Stuart Woods book that was awesome. I have either bought every book I can find or been to the library to check them out that Stuart Woods has written. Just wish there was a site that would tell me in what order to read them.

  • Jake Randell
    16:55 on April 3rd, 2013
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    Perusing my local library this week I noticed that nearly 4 feet of shelving space were devoted to books from this author, so I figured “what the heck…if I try one of his books and like it, I’ll have quite a few more to keep me entertained for awhile.” I chose this one because it appeared to be one of his first books and I usually like to start at (or near) the beginning rather than randomly choosing something from the middle of an author’s career.

    I was impressed with Woods’ writing style, and will definitely be back for more. In fact, as I write this review, I’m already on my 2nd book by Woods’, a novel called “Chiefs” that I’m actually enjoying much more than “Run Before the Wind.”

    “Run Before the Wind” is a coming-of-age story about a recurring character in several of Woods’ books: Will Lee.

    We find young Mr. Lee, the son of a wealthy Georgia politician, in law school, sitting in the dean’s office. Lee isn’t there to receive an “atta boy.” Qutie the contrary — he’s being expelled. The dean sees much potential in the young Lee, but not enough effort and an inability to persevere. He’s told to go out, take at least a year off, and come back again only when he’s ready to approach his endeavors with a significant change of attitude and study habits.

    Lee finds himself in Ireland, where his grandparents live, and quite literally stumbles into a job as a boatbuilder, drawing on his skills as an experienced sailor. His project is a 60′ racing yacht, whose owner is as mysterious as he is wealthy. While Lee befriends several of those on the boatbuilding crew, it soon becomes apparent that others on the crew are involved with the IRA — and that they have a grudge to settle with both the boat’s owner and some of the other builders. The ensuing story is more the tale of Lee finding himself than a deep mystery, but isn’t withoug its action and intrigue.

    It was enjoyable read, but I’m afraid I can’t call it a gripping read. Suspense but not thriller.

    The book does not have a particularly satisfying ending. I won’t spoil it here for those who haven’t read it, but suffice to say that “happily ever after” isn’t the template for most (if any) of the characters.

    After finishing the book, I visited Woods’ website (..) and it features a very nice tool that I’ve never seen before: a printable checklist that you can take the library (or bookstore) that organizes Woods’ books according to year of publication and main character. Unlike many authors that have only one or two protagonists and one or two series, Woods’ has quite a range that currently encompasses 9 “stand alone” novels that aren’t part of a series, as well as 24 other novels that fall into 5 different series. I like this very reader-freiendly approach to organizing the author’s work.

    As I said, this was a good book, but not a great book. And, as I mentioned, I am currently reading one of his other books (Chiefs) and although only 1/3 of the way through the book, it will easily garner 5 stars if it finishes as strongly as it has started. Seems I’m not the only one who likes it, given that a 25th anniversary edition has been printed and it was made into a CBS mini-series a number of years ago. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this author before, given his prolific writing, but regardless of how I discovered him (in this case, just perusing the library shelves), I’m glad I did. He’ll be part of my reading diet for quite some time as I work my way through his 30+ novels.

  • coolfx
    18:26 on April 3rd, 2013
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    Wonderful book. Everything that Stuart Woods has written is a must read. You will not be able to put it down fro beginning to end.

  • Bob rapist
    19:00 on April 3rd, 2013
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    You can’t go wrong with a book by Sturat Woods. Can not put them down. Fast and great read.

  • Ben There
    20:40 on April 3rd, 2013
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    “Grass Roots” is most enjoyable — well written, exciting, fast moving, good plot and subplots. A far cry from such recent duds as “Hot Mahogany” and “Short Straw.”

  • Doug Champigny
    22:02 on April 3rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a book for Stuart Woods’ lovers as well as someone looking for a book about todays politics. Most of the characters were real with just enough exageration to keep them interesting. Woods books all read quick so they are great summertime books, pick them up on the beach, read them at the pool or even half drunk. It is very hard to write a book that a person half in the bag would like reading. Yea, I like to read sometimes when I have had a few, it really brings the characters to life, try it. Its a fun book. Read it!

  • Deedra Gwinn
    23:56 on April 3rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Stuart Woods never fails to entertain……..it is an easy read, entertaining, enjoyable……… nothing too deep.

  • uhyeah
    3:46 on April 4th, 2013
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    I buy all Stuart Woods paperbacks, as I really enjoy his style.
    I made the mistake of not looking to see if I had this one at home,
    thought it was a new publication. OOPs.

  • derbedert
    7:24 on April 4th, 2013
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    I was wondering how Will Lee’s life started out and this is a good book. I love the writing and the plot – I’ll always read all Stuart Woods books.

  • nickatnight
    8:28 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Technically, the first book to feature Will Lee as a main character ( he makes a brief appearance in Chiefs as a kid) and also the only book Woods’ has written in first person POV. It all begins with Lee at law school bored. So he asks his father if he can take a year off and travel to Ireland to see his maternal grandfather. It is there he finds his dream job, building sail boats. He makes friends with a couple who are going to sail a large yacht across the ocean in a race. He also has time to court two women, one who has a past with IRA. Soon, bodies start falling and Will becomes imbroiled in a sinister plot of revenge. The pacing in the novel is slow at first but picks up. The first person narrative really makes the story flow smoothly, unlike some novels.

  • This sucks
    9:50 on April 4th, 2013
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    I think i have read all of his books except chiefs and i love them all and this one is the best in my mind and i read a lot of books

  • Jenae Brody
    11:20 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    “Run Before the Wind” is part suspense novel and part adventure. Will Lee (a character also in “Grass Roots” and “The Run”) is in Ireland to help Brits Mark and Annie Pemberton-Robinson build a boat that will sail in the race from England to Newport, RI. Mark’s venture is funded by the mysterious Derek Thrasher. Robinson is hated by the IRA and there is a plot to kill him. This is one of Woods’ earlier novels, and the writing is very clear, and “Run Before the Wind” is a very good book.

  • Abner Tegan
    12:44 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I ordered 4 used books from private sellers at the same time and the book from A1Books, Grass Roots by Stuart Woods, took 2 weeks longer to receive than the other 3 books.

  • Bristolboy
    12:56 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Absolutely Woods’ best book. This was his first novel and I think it is his best. I have enjoyed every one I have read of his, but this one was like living my childhood over again. I “know” many of the characters in this story. It is a very well written storyline and the characters are all exactly as I remember from the 50′s and 60′s. Great book and a great read!

  • Paper Reader
    14:08 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I’ve read this one long time ago, and wish someday I could read it again. I couldn’t remember it clearly…it’s about a boy grew up in England and built a boat and sailed it back to East coast of Ameirca and become a man. Wonderful story, it actually made me wet my eyes. The sequel”GRASS ROOT” I was also rated it a “10″. Both books were the gems of the primetime production of this author, after these two, it’s a downhill slide, the author has gradually became a mediocre writer with those DIRT, CHOKE, DEAD EYE, IMPERFECT STRANGER Craps! Even wine list and food might become big deals in his horrible lousy new books

  • nawaffffffff
    15:56 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I’m sure I’m in the minority of Woods’ fans when I say that I like Will Lee as a character over Stone Barrington, the suave socialite who replaced Lee in later novels. Stone is okay in a movie-star kind of way, but Lee is much more intriguing, and RUN BEFORE THE WIND is where the reader sees Lee as a truly complex character.
    That’s largely because of the circumstances which Woods had created for Lee. College kid, screwing up in law school, son of a Georgia political bigtimer with his sights on Jimmy Carter, alright let’s just say it. Lee comes from a rich and powerful family.
    So his decision to shoot off to Europe for a summer to contemplate his college career is the sort of thing a rich kid would do. What happens over there is far from typical.
    If you like boats, you might get more out of this story than I did, but in no way is that necessary. It adds an exotic nautical aspect to the suspense, though the suspense does fine on it’s own.
    Lee is growing up, and that’s a big part of the story. Growing up means a lot of things. Taking responsibility where you once ignored it, seeing tasks to their completion, gaining independence, and, this being a Woods novel, some sex of course.
    But the casual reader gets what they want. Intrigue, suspicion, and my personal favorite, anticipation. Mark, one of the primary players, is a bit of a mystery until the ultimate end, and I’m still trying to figure out if his resolution was complete.
    Maybe that’s a good thing. For once Woods slightly strays from convention, the ending not as happy as you might hope it to be and leaving you with a few questions. Questions you hope to be answered in a later novel. Not about Mark, but about Will Lee himself.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Stuart Woods, and Will Lee. Or Willie.

  • XNewzoomr
    19:22 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Reading the reviews already printed, I see no mention of the fact that “Grass Roots” was originally published in 1989 under the same title. Why not?
    long time reader of the series.

  • Paris Hilton
    21:05 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I really did not expect to like this book by Woods, but as I began to read it, it was wonderful!!! I was so intrigued by the plot and the introduction of the new characters, it was impossible to put the book down. Will Lee happens to be under extreme pressure during this campaign, while at the same time, Michael Keane, retired cop, is under pressure trying to find a ruthless killer. Unknowingly, these two men are very closely tied to each other……I would very much recommend this book for a very good weekend read

  • jimmy talon
    22:03 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I actually read this Stuart Woods book before I ordered it from Amazon. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and then decided to order a copy of the book to give to a friend of mine who is an avid sailor and has his own large sailboat. It made him a happy skipper.

  • Hobokenbuc
    22:41 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a book for Stuart Woods’ lovers as well as someone looking for a book about todays politics. Most of the characters were real with just enough exageration to keep them interesting. Woods books all read quick so they are great summertime books, pick them up on the beach, read them at the pool or even half drunk. It is very hard to write a book that a person half in the bag would like reading. Yea, I like to read sometimes when I have had a few, it really brings the characters to life, try it. Its a fun book. Read it!

  • jhonnash
    23:11 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    The book was new as indicated and like all Stuart Woods books, very captivating! “Run Before the Wind” was purchased on 1/16/09 but not received until February 4th. Shipping was extremely slow, since I wanted to the book to go on vacation the last week in January. Loved the book would recommend another source to acquire it.

  • darkcove
    23:49 on April 4th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    When highly regarded Senator Ben Carr of Georgia suffers a debilitating stroke, his loyal chief of staff, Will Lee runs for the office. His opponent in the Democratic primary is the state’s governor Mack Dean; if he wins that his most likely Republican foe is an extreme TV star fundamentalist.

    However, Will places his personal campaigning on hold when Judge Boggs asks him to serve as a public defender on a hate crimes homicide case in Meriwether County where he grew up and his ma still lives in Delano. The case is a racially charged murder that could impact his election chances as his client is a white male accused of killing a black female.

    Meanwhile a former cop hunts a vigilante group assassinating people involved in what they interpret as porn peddling gangland-style. This too impacts Will’s chances of winning the election as the issues of soft on crime and pornography surface.

    Each of the three prime threads is gripping and easily could have served as fully developed novellas in differing sub-genres: political, legal and investigative. However, the fun in this tale is how Stuart Woods cleverly interweaves the three seemingly diverse subplots into a cohesive exciting thriller. This reprint of a 1989 tale holds up nicely two decades later.

    Harriet Klausner

  • T-MobNoMo
    5:44 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I really enjoyed this thriller book. I think that is is a little less suspense full than some of the other books written by Woods. This is my first time reading a Will Lee novel and greatly enjoyed this character. I think it had a good plot and good characters. This is a good book to read on the back porch during a nice night. I would reccommend it to anyone who enjoys this author.

  • Fxfpvwob
    9:16 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This book has it all.Its action pack ,has political connotations,courtroom sessions,witticism,love and passion.The characters are great and extremely well portrayed .The plot unfolds smoothly to the culmination of events.Highly recommended.Stuart Woods earlier work is more rewarding than his current material.

  • tyaxk
    11:16 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    In Grass Root, Woods produces a novel that John Grisham must have taken cues from. While it is nowhere near as good as any Grisham novel, it is a fairly enjoyable read.

    We are unfortunately forced to learn too much about Woods’ left-leaning politics however. His characterization about republicans and conservatives as described by the senatorial candidate Calhoun is grossly unfair. Depicting Calhoun (the republican candidate) as a KKK-sympathizing fundamentalist religious hypocrite borders on Michael Moore type propaganda. In the novel, Will Lee’s campain speach before his rival’s church congregation sounds like a replay of a Ted Kennedy tyrade. This story in this novel tends to follow that of the 1986 senate election of Wyche Fowler in Georgia – a career politician who served one term in the senate. The political climate is the same – democrats ruled the roost.

    Despite that this novel preceded the Grisham successes, Woods could learn from Grisham’s lack of bias and overt political declarations. Grisham’s political candidates are rarely identified with parties and his true political leanings are seldom revealed. With Woods, nothing is left to the imagination.

  • Kerris Samson
    13:16 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I found this novel hard to get into but about half way through it does get better. I really enjoy the Stone Barrington novels so was expecting this one to be on a par with those. I didn’t think this one measured up.

  • badnres
    15:04 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Very good introduction to the young Will Lee. Sets the stage for his personality and what drives him. The story itself was excellent.

  • yougoobers
    16:16 on April 5th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    You’re gonna love this book if you first read CHIEFS. It’s a continuation of the Will Lee heritage and an especially enjoyable book. As stated in my review of Woods’ book Chiefs, this is a must read as a follow up. You’ll truly enjoy it.

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