Iberia Mass Market Paperback – Oct 12 1984
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“From the glories of the Prado to the loneliest stone villages, here is Spain, castle of old dreams and new realities.”—The New York Times
“Massive, beautiful . . . unquestionably some of the best writing on Spain [and] the best that Mr. Michener has ever done on any subject.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A dazzling panorama . . . one of the richest and most satisfying books about Spain in living memory.”—Saturday Review
“Kaleidoscopic . . . This book will make you fall in love with Spain.”—The Houston Post
About the Author
James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Iberia" is a massive, thousand-page love affair with Spain, part history, part travelogue, and part parador-and-tapa-bar guide. It is not 'merely' a tour guide to Spain, any more than Rebecca West's "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" is 'merely' a tour guide to Yugoslavia. With the possible exception of his Pulitzer Prize winning "Tales of the South Pacific", I believe this to be Michener's finest work.
My opinion (or prejudice) is based on our unforgettable journey through Spain. Michener took us places we never would have found in the standard tourist guides. We pigged out in his tapa bars-"first comes the seafood--- the anchovies, eel, squid, octopus, herring, shrimp, salmon, five kinds of sardines, five kinds of fish; next come the boiled eggs, deviled eggs, egg salad, potato omelets cut in strips, vegetables, onions, salads; third are the cold meats in great variety, including meat balls, York ham, Serran ham, tripe, brains, liver in a variety of styles, beef, pork and veal; and finally the hot dishes..."
I booked us into many of the paradors that he recommended.Read more ›
Michener sets out with a tale of his first sight of Spain and his first voyages through the impoverished rural lands in the 1930s. He then proceeds to examine Spain, bit by bit, starting with Extremadura in the Southwest and finishing up with a grand pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Every step of the way, he recounts his experiences in fresh prose, not so much concentrating on major tourist sights, though these are described, but the places, the festivals, and the events of his personal odyssey in Spain that demonstrate something about the land.
Michener describes many important festivals, like Pamplona's famous fería de San Fermin with its running of the bulls. He visits landmarks both well-known, like the Prado, and obscure, like the wildlife preserve at Las Marismas. Most interesting for me, he describes time and again his conversations with the Spanish, and he met a lot of them, from the poorest peasants to one President of Spain and a tertulia, a group of the nation's most distinguished intellectuals. It is in conveying a sense of the Spanish people that this book really shines.
I read this huge travelogue in preparation for a trip that will take me through Spain, and I was consistently impressed by Michener's ability to select anecdotes that demonstrate something important about the land. The further you read, the more convinced you will become that Michener is a brilliant man, able to perceive the things in Spain's art, in its cuisine, and in its music, that make it really spectacular. Only he could have written such a book, and he did it with obvious relish. The result is a brilliant portrait of Spain.
His account of Spain, though dated now by thirty years, made me feel as if I were there travelling side by side with Michener. It is wonderfully detailed and always engaging. There are long sections that are just descriptions of art and architecture, and being the art philistine that I am, these became a bit tedious. Still, my appreciation of these passages came less from the art described than from the obvious passion with which Michener describes them...
This book is a must-read.
Iberia was written in the mid-60's and is, in truth, an amalgamation of Michener's myriad trips to the region beginning in 1936. It is evident throughout that Michener was deeply in love with Spain. It is also evident that the scope of his intellect was profound. There isn't a facet of Spanish life - it's government, history, architecture, customs, cuisine, and geography - of which James Michener wasn't intimately aware. His ability to converse effectively on such a wide range of topics is beyond commendable, even if his opinions, on occasion, may grate.
If there's a downside to Iberia it's Michener's fixation with architecture. I, for one, do not enjoy detailed architectural description without accompanying photography or drawings. One can only absorb so many arches, statues, transepts, apses, bastions, crenelations, cloisters, etc. without a picture to look at. Another minor, though memorable, disappointment is Michener's defense of bullfighting. Yes, yes, bullfighting IS Spain, an art form, a tradition, but tormenting an animal to death played better 40 years ago than it does today.
At nearly 800 pages, Iberia is an abundance of finely crafted detail. It is beyond question worth the investment in time, though beyond question a dated look at a fascinating peninsula perched between the Old World and the New.
Most recent customer reviews
In my copy the publisher chose not to print pages 603 to 634. Was not able to complete the Pamplona chapter or read the beginning of the Barcelona chapter. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Pickerel2
This book has lots of interesting history, and observations about Spain, a country which Michener had lived in for extended periods. It was written before the Franco regime ended. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Douglas Macdonald
Not the best of Mitchener by a long ways. I've read all that Mitchener has written, and can say that I've enjoyed all the others . This was a real disappointment.Published 23 months ago by Richard Maclean
This is basically a long travelogue and probably only interesting if you are taken with Spain. I didn't have the interest or energy to finish it now - but maybe later.Published on July 26 2014 by Maurice A. Rhodes
Having just returned from a wonderful trip to Spain I was curious to hear Michener's takes on the country. Read morePublished on July 25 2014 by R. Tannahill
I read this book sometime in the early 70s while I was in my early 20s (do the math - yup I am not only older but much better travelled!). Read morePublished on July 7 2014 by Amazon Customer
I usually enjoy Michener's work but found this to be rather boring. I really could not get into it at all. You could just as easily read a tourist guide.Published on Nov. 28 2013 by Linda L
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