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Centennial [Paperback]

James A. Michener
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1976
Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the West is an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the destiny of the legendary West—and the entire country.
Praise for Centennial
“A hell of a book . . . While he fascinates and engrosses, Michener also educates.”Los Angeles Times
“An engrossing book . . . imaginative and intricate . . . teeming with people and giving a marvelous sense of the land.”The Plain Dealer
“Michener is America’s best writer, and he proves it once again in Centennial. . . . If you’re a Michener fan, this book is a must. And if you’re not a Michener fan, Centennial will make you one.”The Pittsburgh Press
“An absorbing work . . . Michener is a superb storyteller.”BusinessWeek

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

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From Library Journal

A runaway best seller, Michener's Centennial was written as a tribute to America's bicentennial celebration. The book's 900 pages cover 136 million years. Centennial is an epic novel of the history, land, and people of Colorado. Centered around the fictional town of Centennial, the story contains an extensive cast of characters including Native Americans, French fur trappers, English noblemen, and American cowboys. Providing lively narrative against Michener's skillfully researched canvas are people like Levi and Ellie Zendt, who left the confining life of the Pennsylvania Dutch only to find terror and uncertainty on the trip west, and the Garrett family, whose yearly struggle to farm the land was met time and again with defeat. However, much of Michener's remarkable accomplishment is lost in this abridgment. Although the listener gets the main thrust of the story line, the strength and beauty of the original are lost. David Dukes's plodding narration is equally dull. Most libraries should stick with the print version.
- Gretchen Browne, Rockville Centre P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.


“A hell of a book . . . While he fascinates and engrosses, Michener also educates.”Los Angeles Times
“An engrossing book . . . imaginative and intricate . . . teeming with people and giving a marvelous sense of the land.”The Plain Dealer
“Michener is America’s best writer, and he proves it once again in Centennial. . . . If you’re a Michener fan, this book is a must. And if you’re not a Michener fan, Centennial will make you one.”The Pittsburgh Press
“An absorbing work . . . Michener is a superb storyteller.”BusinessWeek --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It might help to read "Texas" first. July 26 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is another massive Michener epic charting the imaginary town of Centennial near Greeley, Colorado from the earliest days to the date of publication. These are fine books if you are interested in the history of a specific area such as the South Platte River basin where the action centers. It deal well with the various waves of immigrants (sometimes intruders). Michener has a talent for blending the physical description of a place with the hopes and fears and feelings of those who live there. One thing struck m,e with both this novel and a companion piece, Texas. That is the difference in how the native aboriginals weer treated in each case. Not that Canada has anything to be proud of, but at least it seems better than murder and extermination which was the public policy in the US. The other difference in settling the West is that in the US the west was often populated by ex-Confederate soldiers who, perhaps had a bone to pick consequently one is impressed by the law of the gun rather than the rule of law. Perhaps the difference id because the Hudson Bay Company, whose prime interest was the fur trade, nevertheless the HBC had a hazy mandate to bring order to the lands over which they were granted suzerainty. In due course, when the American whiskey runners opened Fort Whoop-up (near the present location of Lethbridge) this outrageous traffic spurred the 'Long Trek' of the newly-formed Royal North West Mounted Police across the prairie to sen d the whiskey traders scuttling back to Fort Benton, near the present Great Falls, Montana. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Summer reading at its best June 20 2004
By L. Feld
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's a tossup between "The Source" and "Centennial" for my favorite James Michener book. While "The Source" got me really interested in the Middle East, "Centennial" turned my attention in a big way towards the American Indian and the West. As I mentioned in my Amazon review of "The Source," back in my early teens I thought that the length of a book somehow corresponded to its difficulty level, so I thought that if I could read a 1,000+ page book, then I must be REALLY smart and also grown up! Anyway, the very first book I decided to read, based on these sophisticated criteria, was "Centennial," by James Michener.
I quickly (and happily) found out that the book was not hard to read at all, and also that it was fascinating and highly entertaining. I read it like I was watching a movie! I strongly remember being completely engrossed as the centuries flew past, as lands rose and fell, as man came to North America, and eventually as the Indians and Europeans fought it out for control of the West. I definitely remember that this was a very different perspective on American history vis-a-vis the Indians than I was getting from Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on TV.
Some people have criticized James Michener for not being a particularly sophisticated writer, or the most elegant prose stylist ever. Well, that may be, but Michener sure could collect a ton of information, he sure could spin a great yarn, and he sure could get you hooked on the topic at hand -- the American West, the Middle East, South Africa, Hawaii, outer space. James Michener is summer reading at its (intelligent and entertaining) best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To sir, with love May 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once again, James Michener has created a wonderful story about a place, Colorado this time. From the rock formation, to its inherent animals, and, afterwards, the people - indians, english, german, russian, italian, japanese, Michener presents us with a lesson in writing, describing the arid landscapes, the flat, ugly Platte river, the majestic Rockies, the beaver trappers, the search for gold, the extermination of a race, the cattle ranchers. What more can I say about a book that's more than a thousand pages long and even so a very pleasant reading, never tiresome?
Centennial, the focal point of the book, is an imaginary town, but very vivid in my mind. That's the power of Michener's storytelling. He was able to provide his readers with a great cast of characters, this time spanning a little more than three centuries. Blending history with things as different as, for example, dry-land farm technincs, Michener gives us a fantastic lesson about the United States.
James Michener is one of my favorite authors, and, in my humble opinion, one of the great writers of the 20th century. We have to mourn his passing because Michener is that rare kind of author, the kind that have his readers always on his mind, always respectful, doing excellent researches, providing historical fiction like no one else. Thank you, Mr. Michener, wherever you are. Thank you for your kindness, for worrying about the quality of your books, thank you for compelling me to read more than 10,000 pages of your work, and not regreting even one minute of that reading.
Grade 9.3/10
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've had this book likely over seven years, and it has taken all of that to get through this: seven starts and stops, but at the end here the determination to see the read through.
I agonized over the prehistoric, dinosaurish opening, but then found the Indian and trapper-mountain men section fascinating.
But for me the best section was the establishment of the area of Centennial and the ranching. Having grown up in this area, it sure seems like Centennial would have to be Sterling.
The Hereford and Black Angus are the backbone of the ranching community, here well represented in this epic tale of the West. Panaramic in his scope, Michener provides all the angles, sugar beets, irrigation, livestock wars, minority farm workers, etc.
Easily the funniest part was the tragic tryout of the preacher at Centennial's Union Church who preached lengthily on the sheep and the Good Shepherd passage from John. Hilarious knowing that the sheep-cattle wars were raging and he was preaching to the cattle choir!
Massive research well written, but tedious read through all 1038 pages. Sorry, but I enjoyed T.A. Larson's History of Wyo much more and recommend it to those interested in the area.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legendary Read!
It's the images that remain - the migration of thousands of borderless birds decade after decade, regardless of the influx of waves of uniquely different settlers on land first... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eleanor Cowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Centennial
I enjoy Michener's offerings. This book makes for a good read,
I wish it was in DVD format. Thank you.
Published 6 months ago by David Millward
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST MICHENER BOOK
Of the seven James Michener long historical novels I've read so far, this is the best. The man is a genius writer, a great wordsmith, and superb story-teller. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Daniel Kasowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sprawling Epic of the American West
I've been fortunate enough to read several of James A. Michener's works, and CENTENNIAL is by far my favorite from this gifted author. Read more
Published on April 1 2003 by D. Mikels
4.0 out of 5 stars The History Stories you didn't read in High School Textbooks
This was my first Michener...always wanted to read this one, but the size was intimidating. Finally got around giving it a shot!
Overall, I enjoyed the experience! Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2001 by Eric M. Saczawa
3.0 out of 5 stars History of Colorado in a series of short stories
Centennial is a fictional town in Colorado, and Michener gives us a fictional but truth-based history of it, from prehistoric times to the recent past. Read more
Published on July 23 2001 by Len Feder
5.0 out of 5 stars Number Two on the Michener Books
Even though I am only 13 this is my second Michener and he lives up to the same quality as Hawaii. With a whole different setting this book is incredible. Read more
Published on June 20 2001 by Garrett M. Imeson
5.0 out of 5 stars Michener at his best
I grew to love Michener, when I read Hawaii, Mexico, and The Novel. I lost a little faith in him when I attempted to enjoy the Covenant, Source, and Journey. Read more
Published on June 12 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creation of an Epic...
cannot be taken lightly. James Michener is a highly detailed researcher. This can often put off a reader who does not give him a chance. Read more
Published on May 9 2001 by Jim Butler
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