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Iberia

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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,837 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Here, in the fresh, vivid prose that is James Michener's trademark, is the real Spain as he experiences it. He not only reveals the celebrated Spain of bullfights and warror kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards; he also shares the intimate, often hidden Spain he has come to know, where toiling peasants and their honest food, the salt of the shores ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published October 12th 1984 by Fawcett Crest Books (first published 1968)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ted
Jan 27, 2016 Ted rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty certain I read most of this 40-50 years ago. I had sort of a romance with Spain for awhile, probably because of Death in the Afternoon.

I find myself drawn to the book again. Not that I think I will undertake reading such a door-stopper all the way through, especially since it must be dated to some extent. BUT I HAVE STARTED READING IT AGAIN, SLOWLY.

Michener says in his introduction (30+ pages, which really must be read to understand Michener's fascination with Spain), "I have always r
...more
Ted
Jan 26, 2016 Ted rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Travellers in Spain; interest in Spain
Spain was a theocracy, and I had lived in Israel and Pakistan, which were also theocracies, and the problems of such governments tend to be the same, whether the theocracy is Jewish, Muslim, or Catholic.




Father Jesus Precedo Lafuente. [chapter: Santiago de Compostela]

I've written a prior review in which I give more of an overview of the book, here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

My second reading of this book, begun last year, is being terminated today (at least for the foreseeable futur
...more
Lotz
In a sense no visitor can ever be adequately prepared to judge a foreign city, let alone an entire nation; the best he can do is to observe with sympathy.

Travel writing is like love poetry. All travelers and lovers are convinced that their experiences are unique, and therefore worth writing about; while in reality most travel stories and love poems express nearly the same basic sentiment, over and over, with only minor variations. Both genres are easy to write and hard to read, which is why fa
...more
Travelin
Oct 28, 2014 Travelin added it
Shelves: started
He was probably in his 60s when he wrote most of this, travelling with his wife, but he writes a bit like a little boy, discovering rules and lists like an effervescent, naive American, or German-style logician. He says writing is hard for him, but he manages to write these tremendously long and simplistic books, possibly because he is so sequential and seldom cross-references or reduces facts. So yes, it is fascinating to learn second-hand that the famous cave paintings of bulls never depict a ...more
Chad Fairey
Dec 26, 2011 Chad Fairey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-booklist
I decided to dive into this over the holidays, as part of an ensuing and voracious quest to soak up as many dimensions of Spanish culture as possible. I've long been a very appreciative fan of Michener's historical epics - this tome is no Chesepeake, Hawaii or The Source, however, all of which offer exhaustive and near encyclopedic treatments of their respective subjects. This autobiographical work, drawing on Michener's personal experiences in the Iberian peninsula between the 1930s and 1960s, ...more
Rex Fuller
Jun 10, 2014 Rex Fuller rated it it was amazing
Michener is, of course, a giant. Bridges at Toko-Ri was one of the first books I ever read. Somehow, I only read a few of his after that, Tales of the South Pacific, Chesapeake, and Texas. So, I’m no expert. But I can say this book taught me more about Spain than I learned visiting it or from a bunch of years of Spanish. Here is some of what Michener shows us:

The Spanish system of surnames. Extremadura, poor, hard-scrabble region bordering Portugal, where Balboa, de Soto, Cortez, and Pizarro all
...more
E Camou
Sep 30, 2011 E Camou rated it really liked it
Este libro es una lectura obligada para quien desee conocer España desde el punto de vista de un turista ilustrado... es una excelente introducción a la cultura, geografía y temperamento ibéricos.
Edgar
May 03, 2016 Edgar rated it it was amazing
If you have ever been to Spain or planning to go to Spain, you really should read this book. In fact, if you even think you want to go to Spain and wonder if it's worth going, then you should read this book, because it will give you the nudge you need.

IBERIA is a stunning achievement by a rather prodigious writer who not only explains the grand moments of Spanish history (e.g. from the prehistory, to the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moorish Empire, the Reconquista, the Spanish expansion to the New
...more
Kevin Xu
I thought this book all would be was Michener's travel through Spain, but no its more than half about the history, which is really boring to me, especially the way it was written into his travel by selection, so I could not get into the book. But I should have expected the history mixed in with his travel, since in all his fictional books about different locations it is basically a history of the location from the beginning of time on how the land was created to the present time.
Karol
Jan 07, 2014 Karol rated it really liked it
fascinating saga... the world of Spain as it was 50 years ago. The history of the second half of the 20th century is beyond comprehension... Michener did an awesome job of presenting it in vivid narrative.
Mars
Jul 20, 2015 Mars rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read a number of Michener's [place-name] books to date, and they're generally entertaining story-driven novels that incidentally teach you history and the important characters that existed and whatnot.

Iberia apparently predates all of that, and it's Michener going on and on about his personal travels in Spain, and his love of the country. It's not actually terrible, but it is thick, repetitive, and quite honestly rather on the dull side (abandoned about 300 pages in, out of a thousand)

Also,
...more
J Guay
Mar 21, 2016 J Guay rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it, but it was tough. alternated between dull and fascinating vignettes. Not the usual michner story. Not sure why I finished it but I did, and now on to something else in the growing bedside pile.
Karen
May 12, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spain, travel
This is a fascinating book. Most definitely a product of the times (late 1960's) and not at all impartial (though occasionally pretending to be), Iberia is a deep reflection on Spain from an outsider who loves the country. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes borderline offensive - it's still enjoyable and a great jumping off point for your own research into different aspects of Spain and Spanish life. It's also really really really long, but I thought it was a relatively quick read - ...more
Ann Otto
Feb 14, 2016 Ann Otto rated it really liked it
Michener is known for historical fiction, but this is a detailed travelogue of Spain written in 1968. I didn't know that he considered Spain his second home. The chapters in this 938 page book (many photos throughout) each describe the history of and his experiences in a particular town, or with a particular topic (bullfighting is one). The book is very detailed and must be read slowly. I've only been to Barcelona and want to see the rest of Spain sometime, so the book is going into my travel dr ...more
Cynthia
Aug 27, 2015 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
I've read many books on Spain in preparation for a three-month visit, and none is better than Michener's. Although written 50 years ago, it is timeless. (In fact, after reading so many books on the Spanish Civil War, it was fascinating to read Michener's take on Franco's Spain 30 years into his dictatorship.) Michener's love of the country is obvious, his desire to understand the culture impressive, his research exhaustive, and his storytelling engaging. The reader is left with an understanding ...more
Ebookwormy
Nov 18, 2010 Ebookwormy rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, history
I love Michener, but I have tried this travelogue several times and I just cannot get into it.

I feel disappointed. Obviously, Michener had a love for Spain. I long to read a classic Michenerian historical fiction of Spain that walks me through the glories and horrors of it's years. Each time I pick up this book, that is what I seek. The rise and fall of the Spanish empire and how this history ties into the people and state of Spain today.

Unfortunately, for this work, Michener chose a travelogue
...more
Linda
Oct 18, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
I read only the chapters on the places we'll visit during our four weeks in Spain in 2016: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and Segovia. Since the book was published in the 1960's, it lacks current information, but I enjoyed reading Michner's take on the history and culture of the country that he clearly loved (like many other authors and artists). I was able to include an additional six pages of information for our trip that I hadn't read in any of the travel books.
Wendy
Jan 03, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I chose this book to take on our trip to Spain as I love to read something that is placed where I am travel whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Although this was written in 1968 and is non-fiction, there are a number of observations that still hold true or at least give insight to why things are they way they are. I read the sections on Madrid, Seville, and Toledo and would read additional sections if we visit them in the future.

Chuck
Nov 04, 2014 Chuck rated it really liked it
The genres section of Goodreads suggests that this book is fiction. It is not. It is the account of Michener's many visits to Spain which he oviously loves and it is the account of its history which he has obviously studied. Michener had many aspects to his writings over the years starting with his experiences in World War II in the Pacific. The novels gendered at that time were many and included "Tales of the South Pacific", Sayonara, Bridges of Toko-Ri among many others. Another aspect of Mich ...more
Virginia Van
Jan 17, 2016 Virginia Van rated it liked it
A massive book recounting Michener's eprsonal experience with Spainm from bull fight to painters and processions. He shares the intimate, often hidden Spain he has come to know, along with a look at Sopanish history, geography and culture. While providing useful background for my trip to Spain, the book is dated and reading worries about what will happen after Franco seems a bit surreal.
Rick
Aug 20, 2016 Rick rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much, even though I'm not normally a fan of this author. Typically long-winded, and very anecdotal compared to his other works. I think that this was a more personal book, with stories of what he saw and learned from his encounters, made me like it more.

It reads like a travelogue, and, since I want to go to Spain, I enjoyed hearing about it. In fact, that's how I "read" this: I listened to the unabridged audio in my car. It was an interesting experience in driving throug
...more
Robin
Mar 21, 2015 Robin rated it it was amazing
My husband I read this aloud during our commute to and from work in preparation for a trip to Spain. This was a really fun read for me because it gave me a perspective on Spain and travel in general that is pre-internet. It was really interesting to visit some of the places that Michener wrote about in the 1960's and see how they changed or remained timelessly the same in 2015.

Additionally this book gave me glimpses into the Spanish psyche in a way that helped me to better understand my father
...more
Gordon
Aug 09, 2011 Gordon rated it liked it
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
Rich in detail and covers a wide range of subjects, from history and art to food and economics, much of it communicated in the words of people the author met. And yet... even aside from being dated - I can only wonder just how much... the book was a bit of a slog and started to seem repetitive after a while. Michener does a wonderful job of evoking detail, but there are just too many of them. And at times I found myself wondering whether he believed the outlandish opinions he was quoting or not. ...more
Michael Boerm
Sep 21, 2014 Michael Boerm rated it it was amazing
One of Michener's best. Not historical fiction like most of his works, but rather a travelogue of his travels there in the days of Franco's dictatorship. Vivid portrait of the land, people, and culture of the Spain of that time period.
Sharada
Dec 28, 2011 Sharada rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book! I read it about 25 years ago, then reread it last month and enjoyed it even more, as in the meantime, I've travelled the length and breadth of Spain. He's just so spot-on about everything concerning the country, and his love for all things Spanish just oozes from every page. He's one of that vanishing breed - travel writers in the mould of Herodotus & Co. He doesn't just breeze in and out of a country, making rapid value judgments and classifying the people into his own men ...more
Marissa Sobel
Aug 17, 2016 Marissa Sobel rated it liked it
A bit slow at the beginning, but I loved how he took us around the different regions of Spain and interrupted his musings with historical background of the region.
Linda Lombri
Aug 05, 2015 Linda Lombri rated it liked it
Although it was very informative and covered a lot of ground in terms of Spanish history and culture, I found it rather ponderous at times and not as engaging as I expected. I much prefer Michener's fiction books. Loved Taipan and Noble House and expected to have a similar experience with Iberia. I had visited Spain and some of my Basque relatives in 2013. My daughter was in Spain the summer of 2014 on a Spanish in Spain course in Salamanca. I read the book with the intention of enriching my kno ...more
Mary
Aug 23, 2015 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was given this book as we prepared for a trip to Portugal and Spain and was quite excited to read it has it had chapters on two of the sites we were going to visit. However, because it is a memoir of Michener's visits to Spain over a 25 year period ending in the 1960's, much of the information was dated. I did learn a few interesting tidbits about a few places we will be visiting and a little more about the general history of Spain.
Bill
Aug 09, 2016 Bill rated it it was amazing
It's a travel log. Great insights into the history of Spain. Listened to this book before a trip to Spain. Made the trip better.
Michael Delaney
May 31, 2016 Michael Delaney rated it it was amazing
This is some of the best travel writing I have ever read. Perfect (if slightly dated) book to take on a 3 week trip to Spain.
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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 t
...more
More about James A. Michener...

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“like a good Spaniard he needed words as much as he needed money, and the words he wanted had to be the most expansive and inflated available. In Spain words form a kind of currency which must be spent freely, and to do this is not easy for an American, yet not to do it in Spain is to miss the spirit of human relationships.” 1 likes
“Human affairs are not so happily arranged that the best things please the most men. It is the proof of a bad cause when it is applauded by the mob.” 0 likes
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