Michener presents a magnificent and spellbinding expedition through the history of the Holy Land--the source of Western religious heritage. 2 cassettes.
Well, almost 30 years later, with a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies, with a couple of trips to the region under my belt, and with a job dealing with the Middle East, I can blame it all, at least in part, on reading "The Source" at age 12 or 13. Seriously, though, I do believe that the seed of my life-long fascination with history, international relations, politics, and the Middle East was planted when I read "The Source" as a young teenager. Actually, come to think of it, another Michener book -- Centennial -- got me fascinated in the history of the West and the American Indian, while several others made me want to learn more about South Africa, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Chesapeake region, and even outer space. So, definitely read James Michener, but be warned: you could become addicted to a lifetime of learning, travel, and adventure.
Michener also does a good job of desribing the various inhabitants of Galilee through the ages, and through the clan of Ur, one gets a sense of how the Palestinian people came to be -- Canaanites and Philistines who were first Hellenized, then Romanized, and finally Arabized.
This book does so many things well that it is easy to overlook some serious flaws. Michener almost romanticizes Jewish history and suffering, and while his chapter "Rebbe Itzik and the Sabra" offers a compelling contrast between secular and religious Jews, it gives a woefully lopsided view of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. The book seems to argue that the Jews "deserve" the land more because of their suffering and because "they can manage it better." It fails to establish the connection of the Arabs with the land -- as though the Palestinian Arabs "deserve" to be exiled -- even though the character Jemail Tabari supposedly is a descendant of people who lived there 12,000 years ago. Indeed, an examination of the chapter "Twilight of an Empire" reveals unforgivably stereotyped Arabs -- flat, colorless, without culture, dirty, corrupt, and often cruel.Read more ›