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3.6 out of 5 stars
Mexico
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on May 31, 2003
Since I have read two of Michener's other works- The Source and Poland- and found them fascinating and riveting and found Michener to be a fine writer , , I had expected something similar with Mexico.
And he certainly shows his talent for fine historical narrative in parts of the book.
Taking us through a journey into the history of Toledo, in Mexico, through the decline of a great nation of builders, through their discovery the drug, pulque found in the Maguey plant, the rebellion by a brave Altomec Queen against the diabolic human sacrifice rites to a strange and terrible deity, the story of conquistadors and robust émigrés in Mexico from the defeated Confederacy after the American Civil War, and the reign of terror of the blood thirsty revolutionary leader General Gurza, all add to a rich tapestry.
Alas, this part of the book is far too short, and Michener spends most of the novel with an endless saga about a bullfighting tournament.
I find absolutely nothing inspiring about this unfair and cruel sport, and do not find anything in bullfighting which reminds me ' of the principles by which life should be led' as remarked by one of the characters.
The characterization in these chapters, was glossed over, and only the bullfighting tournament itself was detailed, leading to huge gaps in the book which where not interesting to read, and only read to get to the shorter more interesting ride into history. A pity because there was rich material with which to work.
Although , to be fair he does artfully put it together again , in the last chapter.
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on May 31, 2003
Since I have read two of Michener's other works- The Source and Poland- and found them fascinating and riveting and found Michener to be a fine writer , , I had expected something similar with Mexico.
And he certainly shows his talent for fine historical narrative in parts of the book.
Taking us through a journey into the history of Toledo, in Mexico, through the decline of a great nation of builders, through their discovery the drug, pulque found in the Maguey plant, the rebellion by a brave Altomec Queen against the diabolic human sacrifice rites to a strange and terrible deity, the story of conquistadors and robust émigrés in Mexico from the defeated Confederacy after the American Civil War, and the reign of terror of the blood thirsty revolutionary leader General Gurza, all add to a rich tapestry.
Alas, this part of the book is far too short, and Michener spends most of the novel with an endless saga about a bullfighting tournament.
I find absolutely nothing inspiring about this unfair and cruel sport, and do not find anything in bullfighting which reminds me ' of the principles by which life should be led' as remarked by one of the characters.
The characterization in these chapters, was glossed over, and only the bullfighting tournament itself was detailed, leading to huge gaps in the book which where not interesting to read, and only read to get to the shorter more interesting ride into history. A pity because there was rich material with which to work.
Although , to be fair he does artfully put it together again , in the last chapter.
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on September 20, 2000
This was my very first Michener book. From other reviews I gather it contained less history than his other novels. After reading it I couldn't care less. I have now read this book three times and enjoy it just as much every time. I love bullfight stories and have read all of Hemingway's works on the subject. I found this more enjoyable than them all. It was more of a story, while very knowledgeably written, than a text book. I also work with many Mexicans and greatly enjoy there culture, food, and festivities. I greatly enjoyed every part of this book. The history from all three nations was very well done and interesting, as was the goings on in the present at the Festival of Ixmiq. I could never have believed a person could tie all of these stories into one well-knit novel, but Michener handles expertly.
I am sure in a year or two I will be reading it again.
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on August 16, 2001
Like most of his books, Mexico is very well-researched and full of historical information and factoids that make for the most interesting parts of the novel. Also, like most of his novels, Mexico is full of ridiculously heroic characters that drag the book down into Michener purgatory. The story goes from fascinating glimpses into Aztec culture and rituals to stories of bullfighters who, while eating dinner, 'wield a fork in the graceful manner that only a matador could'. It's during these sections that you ask yourself why you're wasting your time reading this, but usually the historical stories of the land and cultures reach you just in time to grab your interest and force you to continue reading, albeit at times rather regrettably.
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on February 20, 2000
I have read many of Michcner's books and found many style similarities with this one as well. Unlike Chesapeake, and Centennial, and Texas, and others, we spend more time in the present (1960s) looking at the current events surrounding the three-day Festival of Flowers and its bull fights, and a bit less looking at the historical pathways leading up to it. My favorite aspect of Michener books is the historical parts which is why I only gave this book 4 of 5 stars. The characters are definitely multi-dimensional, however, and Michener ties in all timelines of the novel well. I was left with a much greater insight into the psyche of the Mexican people. An overall excellent read.
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In the book Mexico, Michener paints a picture so vivid you feel you are living the life of those you are reading about. Whether you see the horrible sacrifaces or the amazing art of bull fighting you see a perfect picture.
This book is not the usually style of Michener. This time he wrote most of the book in the first person and also switches between past and present. To me it was a nice refreshing change of pace.
All in all Mexico is a great book for anyone to read. Even though it isn't Michener's best (in my opionion) it is still in the very near top for great books I have read. I recommend this to anyone who likes to read.
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on November 28, 2003
I have read many Michener novels, and enjoyed almost all of them. 'Mexico', however, is terrible.
If you set out to read this slow-moving behemoth, then you'd better *really* like bullfighting. There are just so many long and boring sections on the topic. It was such a struggle to get through it all.
The early parts on Aztec culture were fine, but after that I almost needed to tape my eyelids open. Talk about dull and dry. I couldn't wait for it to finish.
If you are tempted to read this book, slap yourself a few times and go and get 'Alaska' or 'Chesapeake' instead. Please.
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on July 25, 2003
This was not a book I couldn't put down at times. I got bogged down with some of the bullfighting details, and my mind wandered when the story veered in the direction of Spain. The early days of Mexico with ritualized human sacrifice was disturbing/graphic. But overall it was typical Michener, long, detailed, historical, and accurate. As with Space, it was hard to get "into" the story in the beginning. Despite a long pause in the middle I did read the whole story. It left me wanting to read other fictionalized historical books on Mexico. I am glad I read it.
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on January 27, 2004
This is actually my first experience with Michener, who I've always been curious about. I am so impressed that I can't wait to begin another one of his fabulous tales. He's a wonderful writer, one who can balance the details of bullfighting with history with rich characters and an enjoyable story. The writer uses bullfighting to tell the story and there may be more details on the sport than you care to read, but they take up a small space in the whole novel. To Michener fans, it may not be the best, but I definitely think it's worth a read.
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on July 13, 2001
The only other book by Michener that I've read is Alaska, and Mexico, while similar in style, has fewer characters to keep track of, and less complexity in the historical background. That works well here, as the focus is on the intersection of two worlds--the Spanish and the Indian-- and the resulting culture. Filled with dynamic characters that are representations of the Mexican culture, yet not flat stereotypes, this novel is a rich, rewarding read.
Recommended for the beginning historical fiction reader because of its simplicity.
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