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James Michener

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Kveto from Prague
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James Michener

Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat December 11th, 2010, 7:47 pm

I couldnt find a Michener thread although i know weve discussed his books somewhere.

Im almost done with "the Source" (Micheners tome about Palestine).

Ive read about 5 books of his and im hot and cold on them in general. His research is great and he tends to go for a darker view of history. His style is recognisable, in most books to take a piece of land and write about that land or peoples from ancient times until the present. this works for me but its starting to get a bit monotonus. In the current book, i was enjoying it up through ancient times until the crusades, but the later third has really begun to stagnate. andwhen we are talking 1000 pages a book, stagnation feels worse. Kinda of a pity it was written before the conflict in '67.

Of the other books ive read:

Tales of the South Pacific was fun and personal. not too long and poked holes in a few myths.

Hawaii bored me to tears in many parts. Especially the ending which felt like a personal apology to the Niesi Japanese. Which was fair but it really felt forced down our throats.

Poland was probably my favourite. by this time Michener had grown as a writer and the book moved at a better pace. plus it was nice to concentrate on a lesserknown tragic tale like Poland. I found the holocost chapters some of the most authentic writen on the subject.

The Covanent was my second favourite. i loved learning about the Afrikanner history probably because i had little knowledge going in.

overall, im not sure if ill try any more Michener particularly if its not about an area that i have a interest in.

Still he get points for his research and using a style much different from the rest.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat December 11th, 2010, 8:57 pm

I haven't read him in years. I do have a few kicking around begging to be read. Edward Rutherford is very similar in style, and I have found I need to space them out or I get burned out.
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sat December 11th, 2010, 9:13 pm

My sister has read a few of Michener's works. I'm trying to remember which one's she liked. Chesapeake comes to mind. Dad doesn't like Michener's writing style, finds it wordy I believe.

I haven't read an entire book of his. Though I did read parts of Hawaii when I was doing a research paper. I've seen the musical South Pacific and can sing all the songs. :D

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Post by Vanessa » Sat December 11th, 2010, 9:22 pm

I read Chesapeake years ago but remember that I enjoyed it. I still have my hardback copy of it - it's quite a doorstopper!
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Post by Michy » Sun December 12th, 2010, 12:08 am

I read Poland and Caravans years and years ago and really enjoyed both of them. I read another one -- it was called Creatures of the Kingdom, or something like that. It was an anthology of writings about animals taken from many of his books. I highly recommend it to animal lovers -- the way he anthropomorphizes animals makes their stories so intriguing. The most memorable ones for me were the one about the eagle out in the desert trying to kill a rattlesnake for "dinner", (if you're familiar with the flag of Mexico then you know it has an image of an eagle with a rattlesnake in its talons. That's not just symbolic, it's from nature. Eagles kill rattlesnakes by dropping them repeatedly on boulders from high up in the air.), and the one about the salmon. I absolutely love salmon, but after reading his piece about their life cycles, it was several months before I could bring myself to eat salmon again!!

I've started a couple of his others but didn't finish them. I like his time sweep formula of writing about a place; Edward Rutherfurd uses the same technique, but I find Rutherfurd more readable. Just a matter of taste, I guess. The thing about Michener is that he wrote so many books about such varied places. I need to try another one one of these days.........

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Post by laktor » Sun December 12th, 2010, 6:44 am

I loved reading Michener. My step-father was an avid reader, especially of historical fiction, so he passed on books to me and that's how this all started for me. The first Michener novel he gave me was The Covenant. Loved it and I was off to the races! But yes, Michener was still a hit or miss with me, but mostly hit. My favourites were The Source (my fave Michener novel and one of my all time favourite books by any author), The Covenant, Chesapeake, Hawaii. Alaska and Texas were just fair, but I wouldn't rate them as poor. Worst of the lot for me was Poland. I never bothered to finish it as the characters were too confusing and therefore found the story uninteresting. One day I may give it another go. Goes to prove that even us Michener readers have different tastes. I didn't read Centennial only because I had already seen the tv mini-series, which I loved a lot. If I read a book first, I can easily enjoy a film or min-series if it's well done, such as with North and South by John Jakes, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and especially Lonesome Dove, a masterpiece of a novel AND tv mini-series. But can't do it the other way around. The exception to this was Roots by Alex Haley. Read the book after I saw the mini-series and still loved it. Go figure.

Rutherfurd is good, but his best doesn't compare to Michener's best. He can write amazing novels such as Sarum and London, but then comes Russka which, to me, had the same problems as Michener's Poland. I couldn't finish Russka. I did enjoy his latest though, New York.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sun December 12th, 2010, 9:09 pm

It is funny, how we can like different books by the same author. :) I really enjoyed Russka, loved Sarum and London,but thought New York was really poor --- not up to Rutherfurd's normal standard at all. But then, it's been several years since I've read any of his books (I didn't read the ones on Ireland) so maybe his standard is slipping - ? Or perhaps the problem is that I listened to an abridged audio version and all the good parts were cut out - ? I kind of doubt it, but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe someday I'll try a printed copy of New York and see if it's any better. I had really high hopes for that book and was soooo disappointed.

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Post by laktor » Mon December 13th, 2010, 6:27 am

[quote=""Michy""]It is funny, how we can like different books by the same author. :) I really enjoyed Russka, loved Sarum and London,but thought New York was really poor --- not up to Rutherfurd's normal standard at all. But then, it's been several years since I've read any of his books (I didn't read the ones on Ireland) so maybe his standard is slipping - ? Or perhaps the problem is that I listened to an abridged audio version and all the good parts were cut out - ? I kind of doubt it, but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe someday I'll try a printed copy of New York and see if it's any better. I had really high hopes for that book and was soooo disappointed.[/quote]

Michy, I read Princes of Ireland which started off good, but tailed off badly towards the end. Haven't read Rebels of Ireland yet. Don't know if I will.

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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Mon December 13th, 2010, 10:37 am

Yes, high time we had a Michener thread!

I also loved Poland, though I've loved most of them: Hawaii, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Texas, all great. Mexico less so, because, despite looking like a similar format from its length, it is an odd creation, part historical novel, part modern-day novel/travelogue.

Of the shorter novels, Caravans, which I read this year, was fantastic. The Journey, set in late 19C Canada, is a fun bit of derring-do. Recessional is a modern novel that you can uncharitably view as a blatant argument for euthanasia, but is highly readable. Dad's read his autobiography and said it was only okay.

Of Rutherfurd, the early ones were the best. Sarum and Russka in particular worked very well for me. Got a bit bored with them after that.

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Post by Ludmilla » Mon December 13th, 2010, 1:47 pm

While I wouldn't want to read a bunch of timesweep novels in a row, I do enjoy one on occasion. I've read a few by Michener and Russka by Rutherfurd and have a few more in the TBR pile by both of them. I also don't mind fiction that revolves around a theme or isn't entirely character-driven, and you need to be comfortable with that when you pick up books of this nature.

I read Poland this year and it actually ended up standing out more than Hawaii did, but it wasn't until I reached the end of it that I realized it. I thought the WWII section that deals with the Polish resistance and one character's experience at Majdanek concentration camp as riveting and horrifying as anything I've read about the holocaust. It certainly left an indelible impression on me.

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