Centennial Paperback – Apr 1976
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|Paperback, Apr 1976||
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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
One part of the book that I appreciated and enjoyed, but other reviewers apparently didn't, was the prehistoric part. Michener gave us, as his character, a dinosaur, or a beaver, or a little horse, and made the animal real for us for a few pages. In a cute and efficient use of his creativity, Michener brought back the subterranean cave of our beaver in prehistory and re-used it to stuff the dead body of a murder victim in one of his later episodes.
My favorite character in the book is the brave Indian named Lame Beaver. To me, the glory of Colorado's history is the time when the Arapaho Indians roamed the land and hunted buffalo.
Essentially this is a book of short stories tied together by geography and family ties. I'd have to say that this fact is the weakness of the book for me. There is something satisfying about following one character, and one storyline, from beginning to end. Take Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. At the beginning, the problem of the power ring is posed, the evil Sauron searching for his power ring to enable him to take over the world, the ring being found by a gentle harmless hobbit. At the end, this dilemma is solved, the ring dealt with, Sauron dealt with, story over. But in Michener's writing, you don't have a unifying character and plot. You have a series of changing characters and stories.
I'd much rather be immersed in the story of Lame Beaver and his battles than be burdened with the late Twentieth Century problems of pollution and smog. And there is something maudlin about getting drunk and melancholy over the past, as Michener's final character does in the last chapter. It is also what the book as a whole does.
Most recent customer reviews
The definitive story of the American West, particularly his portrayal of the native peoples. No one tells a story better than Michener. This is my favourite book of all-time.Published 5 months ago by Bill Cleland
cancelled from kobo,added to amazon and transferred to kindle,works finePublished 22 months ago by colin e jacobsen
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 morePublished on June 2 2014 by Eleanor Cowan
I enjoy Michener's offerings. This book makes for a good read,
I wish it was in DVD format. Thank you.
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 morePublished on Nov. 5 2013 by Daniel Kasowitz
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,... Read morePublished on May 24 2004 by J R Zullo
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... Read morePublished on March 2 2004 by rodboomboom
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 morePublished on April 1 2003 by D. Mikels