on December 22, 2003
This has to be one of James Michener's greatest achievements. If this isn't his best book, it is one of his best. At 1322 pages you would think that would be enough, but with all of the topics JM touches I actually found myself wanting more.
Mercifully this one does not start with the formation of the earth's crust. Instead, JM jumps into the action and begins a saga that lasts almost 500 years. From the Indians, to the Spanish Friars, to the Alamo, gunslingers, frontiersmen, immigrants, cattleman, entrepreneurs, Texas Rangers, real estate barons, King Cotton, oil men, and football. This only scratches the surface.
JM follows the lives of several families from their immigration to Texas and the lives they cut out for themselves while there. Beyond fascinating. I highly recommend this book. Don't let the size of it scare you off because if is a fast read.
on January 8, 2004
This book is among my favourites. I have read most or many of his books twice and always find them to be entertaining and educational. I keep a copy of Hawaii, Alaska, and Texas near at hand. This is a nice 1000 page historical novel that gives a very detailed picture of the evolution of the great state of Texas, now one of the most dynamic states in the USA.
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. In the present case it is about a group of people that came up from Mexico to settle in what is now Texas. It progresses through the development of the region adding in settlers, farmers, outlaws, lawmen, 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 Amazon.com in buying and reading this great story but perhaps not quite as popular as some of his other works.
Good read and a good gift.
Jack in Toronto
on November 4, 2001
I vividly remember when Mr. Michener was in Texas researching this book and the interview he gave to a local magazine. We had moved to the Dallas area from a lifetime in Denver and Boulder, Colorado to spend 3 years there on business. I couldn't wait for the book to come out. I wanted to know if he was going to tell the truth or tame it down. When we first moved to Texas I felt like I needed a U.S. Embassy there.
Michener gloriously blends his history with colorful story telling to give you a lesson in history that you will savor and leave you wanting more. Make no mistake, the state of Texas has a huge impact on the rest or the United States. When he wrote Texas, he wrote more of the real Texas history than fiction. He also wrote the truth. When you finish this book you realize that Texas has unlimited potential, but changes very slowly because it is a huge landscape. You completely understand the Texas state of mind, the bigger than life people that live there, the courage of it's minorities who have lived there longer than anyone else and the courage of those who fought for it.
As a surprise, he gives you a whole new respect for the Armadillo and it's contribution to the cure for leprosy! Maybe that is why we just moved back to Texas, this year!
on April 13, 2001
I have read most of Michener's works and this rates up with the best of them. The characters are so interesting (ex. Otto McNabb, Benito Garza, General Quimper) and it is amazing how Michener can blend them with the historical personalities so convincingly. I found myself checking the fact section constantly to ensure myself as to who was real.
So many part of the book were so vivid that I felt I was there (ex. the Plaza in Saltillo where the young people walk in circles with their chaperones).
I was happy that Michener did not overplay the action at the Alamo. I have read so many books that have hundreds of pages devoted to describing the action. Michener gave just enough detail that I could picture the battle as it unfolded and the events surrounding it (ex. Bonham riding around Texas trying to get support for the doomed men).
The battles of Goliad and San Jacinto were perfectly depicted. Many philisophical problems were brought to light during the book (eg. Mexican and Catholic culture vs. Anglo/non-Catholic) in very interesting ways that made this book hard to put down. The book was over 1300 pages yet from the start the reader is never daunted by the size as it never gets boring. Well worth getting this one if you see one in good condition at a garage sale.
on July 23, 1998
This book was a great epic up to a point. It was interesting and highly informative, especially for Texans with an interest in Texas history. Then the wildcatting section ended. At this point the book became slow, boring, and predictable. Michener ran out of story or the deadline was coming up very soon, as it just took a serious nose dive after the 1920's. The modern Texas is far more appealing than Michener made it out to be, and as a result, I was very disappointed with the storytelling. The last 200 or so pages were just not worth it. Otherwise, the book was excellent. Too bad he ran out of steam.
I also have a small beef with his education comments about Texas. I would like to point out that the state schools are the ones with the poor education reputations, not the private ones. I am a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, and for the seven years prior to my graduation, it was voted as best buy for the money by U.S. News and World Report. S! adly, when I graduated, it dropped all the way to number two. How about them apples, Michener!
on September 23, 1997
Texas is like the Texas it describes, large, diverse, bold and beautiful. Michener has developed a masterpiece that might take the average reader awhile to "get into." (I delved into its 1000+ pages once a year ago and put it down, only to recently pick it up again) But, Texas is well worth the time and the effort. Texas traces the history of the state from its beginnings as a Mexico territory through its short stay as a independent state into its annexation into the United States, role in the civil war and beyond. Michener saturates the book with interesting people and places, puts you at the Alamo, San Jacinto and the battle of Vicksburg... you follow a cattle drive, live through a hurricane and do battle with Indians. His characters experience all the best and the worst that Texan history has to offer and see famous Texas patriots (Sam Houston, Davy Crockett) and infamous vilians (Santa Anna, Benito Garza, the Comanche Indians) at work and play. However, the best part of the book is its description of the "culture" of Texas, the way the reader is shown the influence of Spanish, Mexican, French,and German settlers, the influx of adverturers from Kentucky and Tennessee mixing with northern merchants, southern cotton growers and, of course, the various Indian tribes that occupied Texas. You learn to appreciate the diversity and the psyche that made Texas the place it is today. It is a delightful, adventuresome, wonderful book-- by the end, you may want to move there yourself.
on January 26, 2003
James Michener writes another of his super famous world renowned mega one word title novels that take a geographic area and tell the whole story with intertwining familys. From the inital journey into texas to the founding of Bejar (San Antonio) to the horror of Comanche Indian raids, to the fasinating detail of commerical real estate development! I have never read a Michener book I didn't consider a treasure, and this one is no exception.
For anyone who is afraid of reading a James Michener historical fiction novel....Just because the books are long and you might think it will be a boring history novel, it is not! The books are fascinating, trust me I have read almost a dozen of them so far and they have all resonated with me, Hawaii, Chesapeake, Centennial, The Source, Poland, The Drifters, Caribbean, Alaska, TEXAS! I love them all so much! And I wish nothing more than for all those reading this to pick up a James Michener novel now!! Start with Hawaii!
on July 18, 2000
Texas is a land of extremes that inspires pretty strong reactions. This means that any book about it that wants to be credible must walk the line between blind, gushing adoration of all things Texan (right or wrong) and mean-spirited bashing of cherished icons and legends of a very friendly people. Neither extreme of portrayal is really fair, when you get down to it.
Michener, as usual, finds that midpoint. In this novel he includes the many peoples that have lived in Texas, viewing the legends and stories with a receptive and forensic eye. Each new wind of history that has blown over Texas is recorded and its impact portrayed. In the end, ultimately, we see how Texas came to be Texas, with all that that entails today. I'd say it's fitting that this is a pretty large book.
Enthusiastically recommended to fans of Michener, those interested in Texas, or anyone who enjoys the genre of 'faction' (fiction closely paralleling history).
on April 29, 2000
I have read most of Michener's work, and I rate Texas among the big three, not only in size but in quality. (The other two are Centennial and Chesapeake). I particularly like the way Michener presents the entire history of Texas, and yet focuses on the key aspects of change that make this region so interesting. We see how cotton, cattle, oil, barbed wire, football, etc have changed the very culture of the people of Texas. Each long chapter is another window from which we can see the evolution of the landscape and the people. We see the hearty characters that made Texas what it is today and examine the very heart of the issues which shape the modern day Texan. For all of this, it is a novel, with the sweeping epic qualities of Gone With the Wind or Michener's other great works. Don't let the size stop you. The novel is as big as the state itself, and worth every minute of the ride.
on July 1, 1997
A very good book, overall. I have loved Michener's works since being enthralled by Centennial at 13 years of age. He had a way of making you feel you know the characters intimately by the time you are through with the book. His masterful placing of fictional characters in the middle of historic events is amazing and the history lessons abound in this work. The reader does pay a price however. The book is long and at times I felt the desire to skip ahead a few pages, feeling that I would not miss much of the story and could save myself considerable time. It took me over 6 months to read this book. Time defintely not wasted but I may have been tempted to cheat a little and look ahead if I weren't so enamored with Mr. Michener's writing style! A good book but not quite comparable to Centennial