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Tales of the South Pacific

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,164 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
Enter the exotic world of the South Pacific, meet the men and women caught up in the drama of a big war. The young Marine who falls madly in love with a beautiful Tonkinese girl. Nurse Nellie and her French planter, Emile De Becque. The soldiers, sailors, and nurses playing at war and waiting for love in a tropic paradise
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published 1947 by New York: Macmillan
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Zorro I think he lived the story while stationed in the South Pacific during WWII. Of course he embellished the actual events and used his imagination and…moreI think he lived the story while stationed in the South Pacific during WWII. Of course he embellished the actual events and used his imagination and invented characters as well. (less)
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Ensiform
Jun 03, 2013 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, war
Easily more than the sum of its parts, this collection of stories is an eye-opening account of life in wartime: not the horrors of war (though there’s a bit of that), but the waiting, the selfless heroism, the bottled-up passion, the thankless endless toil, the vast logistics of a campaign, the suddenness of death and loss and love. The omission of this work from the academic canon is utterly incomprehensible to me; it’s everything that All Quiet on the Western Front is said to be, and more. Mic ...more
Matthew Klobucher
Sep 08, 2007 Matthew Klobucher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book is a must-read for any American in the post-WWII era. Framed as a collection of loosely-connected short stories, narrated from a single perspectivce, Mitchner weaves together themes of love, loss, and struggle with a lucid and sometimes technical commentary on the American war effort in the Pacific theater. His characters are both intensely human and larger than life, and the developing theme throughout the book is that titanic and often tragic effors contribute to the betterme ...more
Kenny
Howard Winant points to the questioning of unchallenged American values—“was the United States really ‘the land of the free, and the home of the brave’? (148)—as the “end of innocence,” led by the black civil rights movement and sympathizers. In his use of the facetious, dramatized, bigoted caricature of a young Midwestern nurse, Nellie Forbush, Michener addresses the end of innocence by calling attention to Nurse Forbush’s ignorant racism through her own absurd, erratic behavior. Specifically, ...more
Deanne
May 01, 2013 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Not at all like South Pacific, no body talking happy talk, no women warbling about washing men out of their hair.
What there is, is a collection of stories, some funny, some tragic and all set in the south pacific. Michener writes well and you begin to care about the men he talks about, many seem disillusioned, far away from home and family and seeming to spend most of the time waiting.
Hana
Dec 22, 2015 Hana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Our fathers and grandfathers war. Now we need to fight the one on our hands. Can't do a good review with current GR settings. Just housekeeping here.
Theophilus (Theo)
Outstanding. My favorite Michener. It won a Pulitzer Prize, what more can I say about it. Mini vignettes about World War II in the Pacific that are funny, ironic, and tragic. How it became a musical I'll never understand. It should have been an epic series like "Winds of War" or "Band of Brothers". Maybe some day. After this I moved on to "Hawaii," "Caravans," "Return to Paradise," "The Source," and of course "The Drifters" among many others. (I was reading these while on active duty in the Air ...more
GymGuy
Jul 22, 2013 GymGuy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
I will agree with other reviewers that this is a must read for anyone interested in WWII history. I've read reviews where they thought this was a white-wash. First, remember that this won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1948. While a great part of Michener's novel is light-hearted, one should take into account that it was published in 1947, just 2 years after the end of the War. Like our military is reluctant to discuss the horrors of the Middle East wars, I'm sure Michener, being a veteran ...more
Kathy
Wow. I'm not sure what to say. This is an amazing book about WWII in the Pacific.
Carl
Jan 01, 2012 Carl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, which was the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948, is a collection of little stories about World War II in the South Pacific. James Michener was in the U.S. Navy, and traveled widely through the area, giving him a unique view of various places, people, and events, and these must have been quite fresh in his mind when he wrote the book.

The musical South Pacific was based upon the book. While I read the book some of the music began going through my head, particularly
...more
Gale
PASSION AND PENANCE IN PARADISE

Mitchener’s World War 2 collection of short stories remains as vibrant and compelling in terms of human interest today as when it was written. Alternating between the logistics of war with personal suffering and joy, these stories present the reader with a composite of life and death in tropical paradise. Characters popularized in the Broadway musical, South Pacific, appear in several stories in this fascinating patchwork of passion and pathos. As all emotions p
...more
Andrew Kraemer
I must say that I really did not enjoy reading this book. It is incredibly slow, is shows a very distorted fairy-taleesque picture of the Pacific theater, and many of the problems in the story, in my opinion, are incredibly mundane.
However, despite disliking the book I respect the role of Tales of the South Pacific in American literary history. Here's why: When this book was released in 1947, it was the book America needed, not the book that best showed life in the Pacific. The American public
...more
Corto
Oct 12, 2014 Corto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. More about the racial, social and sexual mores of the WWII-era than anything else. Compared to similar novels of the era, this one probably seemed a little more jaded, not to mention controversial. A little too much romance in it for me, but maybe that's what his editor thought would be needed to sell the book. Otherwise it would only have been a bunch of stories about Sailors and Marines going nuts from boredom while waiting for another invasion to kick off. All in all, probably th ...more
Ram
Dec 04, 2013 Ram rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice collection of stories.
Not your average wartime book.
This book tells the story of the back waters of the war (literally) .
The people in this book did not see the white of the enemy's eyes.
They did not look death in the eye and hold its glaze.
In most of the stories the enemy is not there.
This is the story of the nurses, the doctors, the supply people, the Seabees (had to google that up), the plantation owners in the remote island, the Island local girls and women. The war stories that are no
...more
Wayne
May 09, 2016 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Try out Michener..first book and a winner
Recommended to Wayne by: Keith Wilton...his Xmas pres to 12yr.old Me

I must say I LOVE this book.

Michener's tale is about what people do in a war
when they are just forced to sit around on lots of islands
because the alternative is allowing the Japanese to sit around on them instead.
It was the war he says when everyone got a chance to read Tolstoy's "War and Peace".
That's how long it was...the book AND the waiting.
'Rock-jolly' got some - these cracked and had to be sent back to the States 'under guard'.
Another stole a truck with nowhere to go - his island had onl
...more
Susan Liston
Oct 10, 2015 Susan Liston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Written in 1947, the introduction says at the end "...these men of the South Pacific....like their victories, will be remembered as long as our generation lives. After that, like the men of the Confederacy, they will become strangers. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge." And now, that's about true.
I've read so much drivel, fiction-wise, in the last few months it was refreshing to read something that had some
...more
Steve
Jun 25, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nellie Forbush, Emile de Becque, Bloody Mary, Lt Cable, Luther Billis that you know from the musical South Pacific are all in Michener's collection of short stories, and while you will recognize these characters from the musical, and some of the story lines, their tales here are slightly different with somewhat different endings. Also, gone from the musical are much of the sexism and the racial bigotry that is presented in Michener's stories (okay, clearly the Lt Cable-Liat love story presents t ...more
Owen
Oct 28, 2013 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Owen by: Pulitzer Prize Board
James A. Michener, like so many aspiring novelists, did not find success until he was nearly forty. But when he did find it with Tales of South Pacific, his first published novel, he seemed to have started at the zenith of his career, winning the Pulitzer in 1948, and having Roger and Hammerstein adapt his work for a Broadway musical in 1949. The motion picture South Pacific topped the box office in 1958 and its soundtrack, with such well known favorites as “Bali-Ha’i,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” ...more
Heather
Aug 12, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always wanted to read this, being a HUGE fan of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical adaptation. The only thing I had heard about it was that the adaptation was very loose and that the book was pretty racist, reflecting the times. I found both to be true. It took awhile to get into it, but then you meet such compelling characters as Bus Adams, Luther Billis, and Tony Fry, as well as the narrator, whose voice I thoroughly enjoyed, and you are hooked. It is a book about people, and these peop ...more
Anna Gabur
I have conflicting thoughts about this book. At first all the technical details were unnecessarily overwhelming and ubiquitous. I had the feeling I was reading the same story over and over again. I missed the tightness and speed that made me fall in love with short stories in the first place. Somewhere in the second half of the book I realized that this should NOT be taken as a collection of stories, but rather as a wholesome novel with weirdly ordered chapters. This helped as I didn't feel comp ...more
Roxanne Russell
Jan 16, 2013 Roxanne Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
Here's a book I've heard about all my life, maybe more so the musical, and an author who couldn'tbe more popular. He was a favorite of my grandfather's. I get the sense that his narrative voice may have been similar to the voice in my grandfather's head- the same matter-of-fact, US white male dominated world-view that pre-dated the 70's. Yet, still sensitive to all people and empathetic to the human condition. It was interesting to read this just after Guard of Honor- same war, same time period- ...more
Lauren
Apr 26, 2016 Lauren rated it liked it
The basis for the musical South Pacific, Tales of the South Pacific is a series of interrelated short stories about American servicemen and women in the Pacific Theatre of World War II ahead of a battle. Parts of the book are incredibly moving and heartfelt. Other parts left me more than a little disturbed.

Call me an old-fashioned killjoy, but I don’t consider a seventeen-year-old girl being shopped around by her mother to the best possible white guy a romance. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen
...more
Kevin
Nov 22, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TALES OF THE SOUTH PACFIC by James Michener is a rare book which communicates what it felt like to be involved in WWII. The budding genius author Michener had the privileged viewpoint of being "embedded" with the Navy during the war. He then lightly fictionalizes, organizes, and distills his experiences into 19 highly varied short stories which communicate something about what it felt like, and what it meant.

I am fascinated by WWII and, have read probably a hundred books by historians, memoirs b
...more
Heidi
Oct 18, 2014 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
I had no idea James Michener could write a page-turner. Why aren't all his books like this? I started the book assuming it would be typical Michener fare: a struggle at times but worthwhile. To my great surprise, I couldn't put it down and finished it in two sittings.

This is a fictionalised set of loosely-connected World War II stories, based, I assume, on Michener's own experiences or the experiences of his comrades fighting in the Pacific. Those who have seen the musical South Pacific will be
...more
Tim Basuino
Sep 08, 2015 Tim Basuino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since 1995 when I was in the Peace Corps and looking for material to fill up some rather slow afternoons, I have been a James Michener fanatic/completist. Few other authors can write about history with the same level of entertainment/accuracy/detail/variety. And to think he didn’t publish his first book until the age of 40 – I suppose that is one career for which one can start relatively late and still have a voluminous career.

And it’s fun to read the first published from somebody as prolif
...more
Bertport
Nov 02, 2014 Bertport rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Miochener kicks off with a four page piece that characterizes the war in the South Pacific as mostly waiting around, and depicts a general in a sort of innocent humiliation that makes me think of Aphrodite and Ares trapped by Hephaestus in the Iliad - the gods as comic subjects. The next piece is set on Norfolk Island. This one appeals to me, with its pitting of the war imperatives against a beautiful double row of Norfolk Island Pines that holds specific, almost sacred, meaning to the natives. ...more
Jim Bartruff
Sep 26, 2015 Jim Bartruff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am currently directing Rodgers and Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC and this classic inspired the musical. It was a very useful in preparing for the production. The amazing thing about the book is that one never loses sight of the fact that real people are the participants and victims of war. They are constantly working, goofing off, preparing for the horror that can strike any time. And not just air strikes, battles and charges, but weather, boredom and sexual assault. FO'DOLLA', OUR HEROINE, A BOAR ...more
Hailey Leon
Jul 06, 2015 Hailey Leon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel epitomizes the well-known Army mantra “Hurry up and wait.” This is not a novel of action and heroism, it’s a novel of humanity and what happens when men are forced to wait for their chance at heroism on a sweltering hot rock in the middle of the ocean.
“Tales of the South Pacific” is a series of stories with a revolving cast of characters and a changing backdrop of islands. Michener expertly sets these men’s misery against the beauty of the tropical islands.
The most interesting aspe
...more
Scott Cox
The cover leaf for Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" notes the strange irony that the Pulitzer Prize winning author wrote most of these stories prior to being deployed in a similar capacity as the narrator-character in the book. Even so, Michener's experiences in theWorld War IIPacific theater add an intensity and credibility to the events and people found in these tales. The various characters weave in and out of different stories, but are brought together in their internal struggles as t ...more
Dian Jamil
Jun 23, 2015 Dian Jamil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Discovered this book browsing books being let go by an American/European expat who was repatriating. I was completely unaware of Michener and the success of Tales of teh South Pacific in Broadway and films. The book is obviously old and I can't even find the edition I bought in the list of editions here.

This book was my first introduction to historical fiction which thereafter I recognised as my preferred genre. Michener is a master and I loved this book, which was cut up into chapters with diff
...more
Becky
Feb 23, 2016 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though a bit on the dry side, it is a very worth while read. I usually love Michener's writing- so descriptive and well researched. This book has a slightly different tone than his others, but I found out through a little bit of research that Michener is suspected of being the narrator of this book through his personal experiences during the war.

I did not realize this book was a series of short stories (set chronologically, so need to be read from beginning to end), and I have never seen the mu
...more
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Tackling the Puli...: Tales of the South Pacific (James Michener, 1948) 7 20 May 24, 2016 06:27AM  
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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
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“I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description. I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes, and the waiting. The waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting.” 7 likes
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