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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  11,122 ratings  ·  489 reviews
This is an older, alternative cover for the edition with ISBN 0449211584.
A panoramic narrative of human and animal life on Maryland's Eastern Shore focuses on a ten-square-mile area at the mouth of the Choptank River and the families that settle there, from the early seventeenth century to the present day.
Paperback, Fawcett Crest, 1083 pages
Published 1978 by Ballantine's Books
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alison Smith
Apr 27, 2007 Alison Smith added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: patient readers in the Delmarva region
Don't be afraid of Michener! I've heard the rule is that you can put the book down if you're not finished in 6 months ha! I think I am 2 months in. Drink tea and read little by little. Chesapeake follows a bunch of families living on the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern shore from before pre-colonial times through....well, I'm still reading. About halfway through, I was tickled to read about a GOOSE FAMILY hahaha. HONK!
Dec 08, 2012 T.S. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs and Marylanders
A friend of mine, upon moving to Baltimore, asked why the area was so eff'd up. A friend told her she should read this book. She's moved on to Denver, but we had a recent conversation about Baltimore, which is where I still reside. I posed the same question, and she gave me the answer that had been given to hear, "You should read "Chesapeake.""

Michener, I'm told by this friend, is a famed histo-geographical fictionalist, which is to say he writes stories that span centuries in a way in which a
What is Michener's best book? Now that's a tough question. It's like asking 'what was Shakespeare's masterpiece?' or even 'what's your favourite Baskin & Robbins flavour ice-cream'? To me, based on the books I have read so far, it is a toss-up between Alaska, Hawaii and this marvellous page-turner, Chesapeake.
I'll admit I really had doubts that a story which was limited to the history and area surrounding Chesapeake Bay would hold me for the 700 + pages in which Michener likes to let his na
There is no better way to make history digestible than by telling the story through fictional characters...dynasties, really. This was really a beautiful and telling account of American history, from the days of Native Americans to the tragedy of Watergate. The scope of the story is magnificent - from exploration, to taming the land, to revolutions, to pirates, to civil rights. One of the things that struck me was how dramatic of a change occurred between about 1890 to 1930. I was sort of disapp ...more
I loved this book. It is my favorite by Michener. I read it the first time on a trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. If you ever visit this region, take this book along. It will make your trip a magical, spiritual experience. I read it again several years ago, and it brought back all those pleasant memories including tastes, sounds, sights, and smells. I could go for a soft-shell crab sandwich just thinking about it!
Just arrived from USA through BM.

The cover of this edition, provided by Wikipedia, is the following:

This book covers the history of the North American east, mainly Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where the Choptank River flows into the Chesapeake.

By covering the historical period from 1583 to 1978, the author describes many historical facts and plenty of main characters, showing how the founders of 4 families will dominate the main plot: the Steeds, the Paxmores, the Caters and the Turlocks. Some str
James Michener has a remarkable talent for introducing a setting and taking his readers on a journey, that will make one understand the area through it's history and it's people. In Chesapeake, he forms a novel around that area in Maryland that borders the Choptank River, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.

Michener begins with the natives just prior to settlement by colonial English. Through native (and later colonial) eyes, the reader gets a good feel for the bounty available in this area. He descri
What a great overview of life in the Chesapeake and Eastern Shore of Maryland from pre-colonization forward told first through the eyes of the Native Americans and then through the many generations of Steeds, the planters of Devon Island, Paxmores, the intellectual Quakers living on Peace Cliff as well as the Turlocks who intermixed with the natives and were most comfortable living and at times barely surviving in the marshes, the Caters who were direct descendants of the African, Cudjo, and the ...more
Chesapeake is the rambling story of a portion of the Chesapeake Bay area from the time just before Europeans arrived until the 1970's. While the story began well, eventually it really did begin to ramble but also it skipped major moments in history (the Civil War is mentioned as an afterthought and the Civil Rights movement is mentioned as a peripheral occurrence). These lapses in historical moments are an interesting choice, considering the nearly insignificant details that are included. At one ...more
Manu Prasad
From 1583 to 1978 the saga moves, tracking the lives of individuals, their families, the society they live in, and most importantly the place where all of this happens. Chesapeake is as much about a way of life, as it is about the place and its people.

The book is typical Michener, and uses individual stories across generations to show the way a place and its society has evolved. Even as each generation's story is read, it is difficult to realise the passage of time, since sometimes the changes
Doris A.
In a way, if you've read one Michener, you've read them all. But not because, after all, just because you know the history of mankind in Spain (or Hawaii or Poland) doesn't mean you know it for ... the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I started this novel my first week in DC. It was a thousand pages long. It became a roadblock between me and the next book ("I will not open another book until I finish this!") and I let it block me for over a year (I was busy!). All that said, I'm glad to have read it. ...more
Kate Kelly
My second Michener didn't disappoint. His books, though long, aren't hard to read and the interwoven plots and stories keep things interesting. I liked the in depth look at the 17th, 18th, and first half of the 19th centuries, but then it seemed like Michener felt like he needed to get a move on and he sped through the rest. The lack of coverage of the Civil War itself as well as the bizarre inclusion of the Watergate scandal were both puzzlers. I enjoyed the format, with the concept of "Voyages ...more
In his fictional history of Chesapeake Bay, James Michener takes you to the top of a large building and lets you watch the pageant of centuries pass like a parade beneath your gaze. Though you can see the details of individuals as they pass, your perspective predisposes you to see the broad sweep of centuries. It is an amazing amalgam of crooks and colonels, priests and pirates, fishermen and floozies, merchants and mechanics with the natural history of Chesapeake Bay providing the backdrop for ...more
Alan S.
I read 'Chesapeake' some thirty years ago - yet the vivid memories and impact of it are still with me today so that I intend to reread it again if time ever permits ! I mention the time factor because it sits in that genre of massive 'blockbusters'(alongside 'War And Peace') - the size of a brick and unputdownable !

In this masterpiece, James A. Michener encapsulates almost the entire history of America within the microcosm of the Chesapeake Bay area, with its ancient abundance of fish, herons an
This novel is a sweeping saga that tracks three families of differing socials classes from the day they arrive on the Delmarva (eastern shore of Maryland) to the late 1970s. It would be interesting to read Michener's view on the last 30 years. Michnener is sparse on dialog and fond of using words that even the college prep courses haven't discovered. If you decide to take this journey, and it is a long one (800+ pages), don't expect high drama and page-turning action and suspense. Prepare yourse ...more
Lola peterson
Hey! I'm reading only later voyages in this book for school, if anyone can catch me up by replying to these questions, I would reallly appreciate it... thanks!
xoxo lola

Voyage 2: 1608 and The Island
3. What, apparently, is the main motivation for the creation of the Church of England? How is it
different from the Catholic Church?
4. What impact does the Catholic / Protestant rivalry have on the colonies in the Chesapeake?
5. How does Devon Steed’s story illustrate both the hardships of life in the co
This is not the first book I have read by this author. I am always impressed, if not amazed, by his depth of knowledge concerning the topography, people, and in-depth history of the areas about which he writes. This book was no exception. The book unfolds in voyages, fourteen in all, and takes us across an amazing four centuries. It begins with the native tribes living in the Choptank area of the country in the 16th century, and moves across time as colonists embark from Europe. Amazingly, he tr ...more
I almost put this down after 200 pages because it's so ferociously non-literary, but I'm glad I slogged through. Michener takes a god's eye view of the region, beginning with John Smith and the Indians, and unrolls the history through the generations of 4 families--plantation owners, Quakers, low-life "watermen", and African American. There are cameo appearances from George Washington and other worthies, incursions by pirates, chapters on boat building--even a crab cake recipe, and a little dram ...more
So, yours truly managed to pick up a first edition of this book for a few shekels recently.

I found it to be very typical of Michener.

His detractors will try to tell you that his formulaic writing style and lack of character development made the late author nothing short of a hack.

Indeed, I found this best-seller from 1978 to be very much like the other two Michener novels I've read.

And, as he covers nearly four centuries over 865 pages, the folks who populate his narrative are painted in very br
Si les chemins que prend le destin d'André ne sont pas ceux qu'on pourrait lui souhaiter, il nous accompagne, rue après champs, situations précaires après jolis moments de liesse vers un monde d'hier au franc parlé qu'il ne me semble pas ridicule d'imaginer être de nouveau tangible dans notre actualité... la faim justifie les moyens dit-on... l'espoir justifie peut-être les actes !
Un livre à lire et à confronter avec les souvenirs qu'auront pu évoquer un grand oncle grincheux, une grand-mère éco
Ian Lindstrom
I was worried about committing myself to this, but the reviews were enthusiastic for good reason. The story moves along at a nice pace, I never remember becoming bored or hitting sections that move like molasses. This seems near impossible to avoid in such big works, or for someone w/ a bad attention span like myself.
This really is a great way to know & understand history, the characters are interestingly realistic, reflecting the beliefs & struggles of the time in their own ways &
This is my first Michener novel and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't a quick read due to its size but the stories within this novel were informative and interesting! Michener does an amazing job of including all the detail you could ever want without weighing it down and making it boring. I love the Chesapeake and spent almost every summer of my entire life on the Bay so this novel was a true home run for me. The only reason it's 4 stars is that the last couple of parts of the novel weren't nearly ...more
This was the first Michener novel I read, most likely because my mother was reading it and I picked up the books she was reading while she was doing other things. Sometimes they were VERY eye-opening *wink* It gets 5-stars because it was life-changing in that...this was the first Michener novel I read. LOL. Of course, you could argue, everything was life-changing and new at that age.

I loved Michener. I loved the pictures he painted and history portrayed, living and breathing. I loved when his ch
Jo Bennie
What an amazing book, one I feel really proud to have finished and that I really learned from. 'Chesapeake' is the story of Cheseapeake Bay on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, a spit of land split between the states of Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. The narrative is filtered through the lens of the progress of the fictional town of Patamoke on the Choptank River and the rise of major immigrant families: first the wily watermen Turlocks, the Quaker Paxmores and the Catholic Steeds, jo ...more
As a long time DC Metro area resident I appreciated this historical novel that traces two families from their arrival in the future Maryland/DC/Virgina area in early colonial times through the early 1970s.

The mixture of soap opera and history was appealing.

I really got a sense for what the area was like and I was very amused by the "Us - Them" mentality existing between Maryland and Virgina centuries ago.

Like most Michener novels this is a big book, so be prepared to stay with it for a while.
Rusty Vaughan
I read this in 1992 and am listing it here based on its importance and interest. I was involved with Eckerd University at the same time Michener was living there and volunteering. Thus when I moved to Annapolis in 1991, Chesapeake was an easy interest. As some reviewers have said, it is long and perhaps, to some, it rambles. But to me it brought the Chesapeake Bay to vivid exciting life.

I have an interest in American history. I often imagine what life must have been like in the early days of th
Alex Cetra
It is a long novel….about the length of two or three ordinary ones. But is it worth reading?
Yes it has been an entertaining and learning experience both. The novel is centred upon the lives of three or four families over the span of hundreds of years and several generations. Many stories are concocted by Michener in the intervening years. It covers about 400 hundred years of history of Chesapeake Bay: from the pilgrims and the Indians to the slavery and tobacco plantations, piracy, Revolution, C
This book is well worth the read if you are interested in the history of the North American east, mainly the great Chesapeake Bay. It starts in the late sixteenth century and covers up to present time. The story is told through the founding families of the area.
Read this when I moved to the Chesapeake bordering community of Poquoson, Va. Was an excellent introduction to the area and culture. Ran into Bull Islanders who could have been the prototypes used to develop some of the cast.
About average for him. Not my favorite writer, but the area interested me since I lived there for about 40 years. It's worth reading once, certainly.
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review 4 58 Oct 04, 2014 03:16PM  
Historical Fictio...: Chesapeake - James Michener 66 64 Oct 09, 2013 06:34AM  
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for th
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“From the earliest days of the nation anyone with an intelligence equal to that of sparrows had realized that the peninsula ought logically to be united as one state, but historical accident had decreed that one portion be assigned to Maryland, whose citizens despised the Eastern Shore and considered it a backwater; one portion to the so-called state of Delaware, which never could find any reasonable justification for its existence; and the final portion to Virginia, which allowed its extreme southern fragment of the Eastern Shore to become the most pitiful orphan in America.” 2 likes
“A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but actually it is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge.” 2 likes
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