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CHESAPEAKE [Mass Market Paperback]

James A. Michener
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 12 1984
One of James A. Michener's grandest most loved, #1 best-selling works: the huge, enthralling novel, set amid the natural and historic riches of the Chesapeake, which dramatically brings to life -- through almost four centuries -- our land, our history, our people.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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“Another of James Michener’s great mines of narrative, character and lore.”The Wall Street Journal
“[A] marvelous panorama of history seen in the lives of symbolic people of the ages . . . an emotionally and intellectually appealing book.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Michener’s most ambitious work of fiction in theme and scope.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Magnificently written . . . one of those rare novels that are enthusiastically passed from friend to friend.”—Associated Press

From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

George Grizzard's distinguished career includes Broadway performances in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and California Suite. His film work includes Advise and Consent and Comes a Horseman. His many television appearances include his portrayal of John Adams in PBS's The Adams Chronicles and The Oldest Living Graduate, for which he won an Emmy Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF MICHENER'S BEST Jan. 27 2004
The more Michener I read the more I want to read. CHESAPEAKE is one of Michener's best. Following four established families from the beginning of American colonization and into the 70's, JM provides many perspectives into the Maryland's eastern shore. The primary families are made up of boat builders, plantation owners, watermen, and a black family beginning with a kidnapped slave. Fascinating stuff.
JM begins with the degeneration of the indigenous Indians and shows how colonization was destined to dominate less industrialized populations. The Indians didn't stand a chance. Usually, Michener is light on the characterization, but I would say he milked the characters to the bone with this one. Just keep in mind, the story is about the development and socialization of the region, not so much the individual characters. Though these characters are not given short shrift by any means.
I had always heard CHESAPEAKE was one of JM's best works, but at this point I would say I liked TEXAS and then CENTENNIAL better. Great stuff here. I hope to read all of Michener's novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best March 3 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Two books I've recently read and love, though they have NOTHING to do with one another and are total opposites, are, CHESEAPEAKE and the short story collection that knocked my socks off titled CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae. I've just put our boat on the Eastern Shore and finally got around to reading the Mitchner (why did I wait so long?). It is a outstanding story about our beginnings presented in story form. The way Michner introduces his characters keeps you involved and interested throughout 900 pages.
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This book is among my favourites but not as good as his Hawaii. I have read most or many of his books twice and always find them to be entertaining and educational. I keep a copies close at hand.
This is a nice 1000 page historical novel that gives a very detailed picture of the evolution of the region. This is a geographical area close to the main US population centers but an area often missed by residents and visitors. I lived for a while in Maryland and I found that I was visiting just a fraction of the area described in the book.
I some ways the book is hard to review since his books have a similar structure and feel. So it boils down to do you want to read this type of book - 1000 pages, do you like his style, and are you interested in this- the general DC area and eastern Maryland?
Michener's books use a common plot formula that starts out by telling a story that in some way reflects and utilizes accurately the actual or known historical developments and time lines and people of a region. It progresses through the development of the region adding in settlers, farmers, plantations, fisherman, business people, adding in more characters and phasing out as time moves forward up to current times.
When I decided to review this book I was not certain if people were still interested in buying this book but I was pleased to see that there is still interest at in buying and reading this great story.
Good read and a good gift in the Michener tradition. Once you start be prepared to read with joy until finishing all 1000 pages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An epic through the generations Jan. 2 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
James Michener's novels generally tell the story of a geographical location - sometimes large, sometimes small - through a fictional set of interrelated characters. Chesapeake (perhaps a more accurate title would have been Choptank, but never mind) follows the careers of three families living on the eastern shore of this great bay. The Steeds: Rich, well-educated pro-slavery plantation owners, forced to take the lead in the Revolution even though they considered themselves royalists. The Turlocks: uneducated, racist slavers/pirates/privateers, living off the land, poaching and killing Natives, English, and runaway slaves. The Paxmores: Quaker shipbuilders, lynchpins of the underground railway and moral voices of the Choptank area.
The timeframe is from the 15th century to Watergate. Multiple generations of these three families come and go. In spite of the huge numbers of characters, Michener manages to keep everything clear. Each chapter is basically a short story - one is the story of a slave brought from Africa, sold to the Steeds, who eventually buys his freedom. Another is the story of a Turlock privateer's running feud with a British captain through the War of 1812 and beyond. These short stories are all interwoven in a larger narrative that develops the land and history of the Chesapeake.
For my money, Chesapeake is a well-crafted tale, seamlessly intertwining the individual stories into a coherent whole. Michener does a much better job here than with, for example, the disjointed Caribbean. My only complaint is the fact that the last two chapters are extremely weak - rambling, self-indulgent, and without focus. However, as this is only 100 pages of a 1000 page book, there is so much more to like that I recommend it to anyone. Even those, like me, who previously had little interest in the area and who have never visited the Chesapeake.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
"This book is a novel, and to construe it as anything else would be an error," commences Michener in his story covering 394 years of life on the Chesapeake Bay. With this short, direct statement the author releases himself from rendering any obligatory factual information. The wordy writer, however, can't help himself from bringing the reader as much accurate historical information as comfortably possible in this 1,024 page book.
From the broad shouldered Susquehannock outcast Pentaquod who becomes a tribe leader of the Choptanks to the Roman Catholic outcast Edmund Steed who becomes the cornerstone of the Maryland Colony to the well-muscled African Cudjo who becomes the ray of hope for all Maryland slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation, Michener takes the reader through time, marking milestones with strong-willed heroes who stood fast against prevalent social mores. This gives the reader a deeper understanding of why historical events turned out as they did.
The author also provides a medley of sinister characters, devious families, and pious personalities, which keeps the story alive and invigorates the reader for reading yet another page.
The key character is the Chesapeake Bay, as it endures naval battles, life-ending rain storms and pollution. In the end, the Bay flexes its muscle to reveal how many more times powerful it is than any of Michener's characters presumed.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Introduced me to my own state...wish I read it 25 years ago!
What a treasure chest of history! 400 years of vibrant characters, marvelous stories, important history revealed in a tremendously enjoyable and readable fashion. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2003 by A. J Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars My Chesapeake...
People from the western shore sneer and ignore me if I say I'm from the Eastern Shore. I'm not really from there--just spent a number of years there. Doesn't matter. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2003 by ED Detetcheverrie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Experience!
I'm a Michener fan, but this is the best of the best in my humble opinion.
As I write this, I'm waiting for a confirmation of my reservation to spend a long weekend in... Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2003 by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
First off, let me say this was the first Michener book that I ever read. I'm in the 10th grade, and we were given a long list of books to choose from, only a few of which were... Read more
Published on Dec 20 2002 by B. Tucek
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite
I read James Michener's CHESAPEAKE for the first time while I lay in a hospital bed recovering from my first total hip replacement. Read more
Published on May 5 2002 by Beverly J. Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story about the Chesapeake
This is the first book by Michener that I have read. Having lived in Maryland for 6 years now I was interested in the history of the Chesapeake so I chose his book to better... Read more
Published on March 11 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE THE BAY
I've lived in Virginia Beach for 5 years and love the area for it's diversity. However, I've only just begun to truly appreciate this area by reading James Michener's Chesapeake. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book!
I read this book quite a few years ago, before came into being. Whenever I think of what my favorite books are, Chesapeake is always on my list, regardless how much time... Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2001 by Amazon Customer
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