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Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,688 ratings  ·  105 reviews
From the glories of the Prado to the danger and dazzle of the bullfights, master storyteller James A. Michener magnificently captures the stunning kaleidoscope that is Spain.

Here is a rich and enduring tribute to a fascinating country, an immemorial place that has become Michener's second home. In the fresh and vivid prose that is his trademark, Michener not only reveals t

Hardcover, 818 pages
Published April 12th 1968 by Random House (first published 1968)
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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
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
Rex Fuller
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
Chad Fairey
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
E Camou
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.
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.
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.
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)

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
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
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.
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.

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
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
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
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.
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
Linda Lombri
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
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.
Lindsey Wallis
While I generally enjoy James Michener's writing, this one was a bit of a slog. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of his journies through Spain, peppered with colourful bits of Spanish history, but for me, where it fell down was the endless descriptions of artwork and architecture in Spanish cathedrals. A picture is worth a thousand words --- or in this case a few thousand!

The book ranges from poular destinations such as Pamplona for the running of the bulls and the pilgramage of Santiago de Comp
Kathryn Wilder
Unlike his other books this one took me a while to warm to, but I soon found a terrific read in this gem.
Hal Brodsky
One of hte best books I have ever read. A Life changer for me. I have read this three times
Shelly Brander
Yes, I read it on the plane the first time I went to Spain in 1987. Loved it. Still love it.
Jewel Allen
I loved most of the book, but had a hard time getting through some of the history midway through.
Dick Edwards
This is a remarkable book, a statement I seem to make about all of JAM’s books. This book is different than the others of his that I have read. Instead of the exploration of a place and its history through the artifact of a fictional story with fictional characters running through it, this book is a travel book in which JAM describes the plazas, cathedrals, art museums, etc., of 13 locations plus others seen in side trips. Much of the history of Spain is revealed as we travel along with JAM, and ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Bob rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
My favorite Michener book and one of the finest travel books ever written.
Ted Tabour
Too much like a travel log .. I gave up after about 200 pages.
Wow I have been working on this book for a long time! It took me almost a year to finish - which says something. Michener wasn't as readable as I'm used to, although it got easier as I got used to it. This is a surprising, eye-opening account of Spain, the Spanish people, their lives, history, and traditions. It is non-fiction and follows Michener's travels through Spain. I loved the history. I want to visit Barcelona and the Mediterranean coast, and the Balearic Islands. I'm glad to learn about ...more
Adam K.
I checked in and out of this one, but Michener's prose is accessible as always, delightful and instructive. I'm more a fan of his fiction, as I think his passion for his subjects is transfered through his characters and plot and thus is more infectious that way, if that makes sense. The running character here is Michener himself in this travelogue, and if you don't share his passion for Spain, you won't quite feel transported here. Nevertheless, I enjoy Michener a lot. He writes smart stuff for ...more
Great book about Spain and it's wonders.
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Please recommend books set in Spain/Portugal 7 17 Feb 20, 2013 08:22AM  
  • The New Spaniards
  • Barcelona
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • The World: Travels 1950-2000
  • Tales of the Alhambra
  • The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation
  • Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese
  • Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip
  • On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal
  • Roads to Santiago
  • Spunk: Selected Short Stories
  • Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Story of El Cordobes and the New Spain He Stands For
  • Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past
  • It's Not about the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels
  • Round Ireland in Low Gear
  • Sorry for the lobsters
  • The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred
  • Constantinople
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
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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
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