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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on April 27, 2004
This is a collection of 'tales' but together they are also linked as a complete story about a group of people that is preparing for a strike on an island held by the Japanese in the Pacific in WW II.
The stories are about love, infedelity, loving native girls, pregnancy, marriage but also sadness, war, and ultimately death during the strike when some of the characters use their live, and not always in a flattering way.
It is also a book describing the beauty of the islands in the South Pacific (Bali Ha'I) and the kindness of the native people. The story about the boar's tusks is amazing. One of the last stories is about all the men before they start fighting, they talk about their time in San Francisco, for most the last place they were in the US.
It's a lot different than his others books, especially a lot thinner. It's magically written and sometimes heartbreaking.
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on August 10, 2002
I picked up this book looking for some vivid imagery of the South Pacific to help build anticipation for my upcoming vacation to Bora Bora, which is said to have been the basis for Michner's fantastical Bali Hai. While this book wasn't quite what I was expecting, it was a terrific narrative of the war in the Pacific, and in several places painted a colorful picture of the natural beauty of South Pacific islands.
A contrast to most wartime fiction I've read, the vast majority of this book occurs a great distance from the action. This distance causes the characters to reflect upon their role and purpose in the war, and forces them to preoccupy themselves with whatever they have available to them. The need to amuse themselves leads to this collection of entertaining antidotes, from courting nurses in a nearby hospital, to speculating about the mysterious life of a distant spy, to distributing medicine to a beautiful island of native women.
Michener saves his best for last, as he releases the tension built upon the endless island waiting in an abrupt storm of war as he masterfully details the chronology of an island invasion. After the battle the characters reveal what they have learned about heroism and wartime contribution.
While the characters in this book are lovable and memorable, Tales of the South Pacific doesn't leave you wondering what happens to them next. Rather, you wish the novel's focus could pan to another nearby island and start the whole process again, meeting and watching the next crew of airmen, officers, and enlisted men, as they wait for their chance to fight the enemy.
I had to assume that the details of this novel were historically accurate (despite being a work of fiction), since it is said Michener wrote this novel while in a quansett hut on one such island.
If you are going to read this novel, I would recommend making a conscious effort to remember names and places, because as the book progresses, familiar faces and intertwining references to past stories become more and more frequent. I have still not seen the musical, so I can make no comparison with the film or stage show.
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on December 11, 2000
To use an old cliche, this book gives the reader a sense of "being there" during the Second World War in the Pacific theater.
This is not a chronicle of the war itself. It is not a military history, although it is full of military anecdotes. It's a series of loosely connected stories of the prolonged island-hopping campaign across the Pacific, related through the personal experiences of a variety of characters. Michener's emphasis is on the individuality, humor, valor, and idiosyncrasies of the men and women who populated the bases and combat units of the Pacific campaign.
As anyone who has seen the musical "South Pacific" (based on a part of this book) knows, it includes the island natives and expatriates who happened to live in the places where the war was taking place. In reading these stories, you may come to understand why many of the armed forces veterans of the Pacific war were drawn to go back to the islands in later years.
If I were limited to one sentence, I'd say that this book is about everyday Americans doing unusual jobs in exotic places. I like it well enough that I've read it multiple times and consider it a favorite. It's a lot easier reading than many of Michener's later epics, and in my opinion it's as good as anything he's ever written and better than most.
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on August 23, 2000
In this Pulitzer prize winning book James Michener brings us to a beautiful place and puts us into the lives of the people who were in this part of the world during World War II.
The book is a collection of short stories that are sometimes interconnected. All in all I am glad that I read this book, but for me it was not one of Micheners best works, however it is still fantastic. I guess I am more of a fan of the epic historical novel of his like "The Source" and "Centennial"
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on July 4, 1999
I read this book one year over Christmas and I have not been able to forget it since. Sometimes it becomes a bit slow, but, once you get to the end of it and look back, you are very happy that you persevered through those few tedious parts.
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on June 25, 1998
This is a wonderful collection of stories. It captures how young naive and idealistic americans find themselves thousands of miles from home in a strange environment involved in an epic struggle which will not only change the characters, but also the course of US history. Unlike many of his other works, which focus on history and happen to throw in some characters, this focus of this book is the characters: Bloody Mary, Lt. Joe Cable, Bus Adams. Tony Fry). Each of these characters is particularly memorable (in sharp contrast to some such works as Hawaii, Centenial). This is Michener's best and I highly recommend it.
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on November 5, 1997
Because I had seen the movie South Pacific, which was based on this book, I already knew the main characters and the plot of the story once I reached for this tear-jerking book. But, Michener surprised me with this war-time, romancing drama that depicts realism in a manner of brashness. Michener never lost my attention, but he managed to change my views of Hollywood's renowned attributes of a "perfect" relationship and that happily-ever-after ending. Michener only takes you a little further. Read for yourself...
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on October 15, 1997
Liquor, love, babes, war, ships, planes, etc.! You name it and Michener included it somewhere in his book. Tales of the South Pacific is a book that is written to make many different points about human nature and war. Many of the characters whom the reader is made to sympathize with show the aspects of human life. These characters are also brought to the piont that the only thing they will ever have is what they had doubted the entire war... heroism. These short stories are written in a heavy style that becomes too much work to read sometimes. Even so, the reader is brought along by wondering about the welfare of the special character that they feel close to. This writing is best if one can take brakes through-out the book to let their mind catch up with the story. This book was interesting, yet overall the way in which the characters are represented made the book come alive with emotions.
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