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Return to Paradise

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  524 ratings  ·  27 reviews
James A. Michener, the master of historical fiction, revisits the scenes of his first great work, Tales of the South Pacific, the Pulitzer Prize winner that brought him international acclaim. In this sequel collection, Michener once again evokes the magic of the extraordinary isles in the Pacific—from Fiji and Gaudalcanal to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea—through stories ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 12th 1984 by Fawcett (first published 1947)
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Tales of the South Pacific by James A. MichenerThe Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten TroostFiji by Lance MorcanReturn to Paradise by James A. MichenerH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
Best Books About the South Pacific
4th out of 61 books — 35 voters
Exodus by Leon UrisThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerMy Cousin Rachel by Daphne du MaurierKatherine by Anya SetonAuntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
Fifties Fiction Favorites
68th out of 85 books — 68 voters

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After the phenomenal success of his first novel "Tales of the South Pacific", James Mitchener returns to the Pacific islands to write his next great Geographical novel, "Return to Paradise". Written after spending a year with his wife in the various islands of the South Pacific in the late 1940s, Michener writes this fascinating novel as a prototype to the kind of geographical novels that Michener would devote most of the rest of his life writing; novels like "Chesapeake", "Texas", "Poland" and ...more
Christopher Sutch
This collection of essays and stories, originating out of a trip Michener and his wife took to various South Pacific locations during 1950, is the first book he wrote that is (partially) readable. It is mostly the essays, however, that are worth reading; the fiction is pretty terrible. Of the stories Michener composed for this collection, only the one set in New Zealand ("Until They Sail") is competently composed; the rest are quite amateurish in regards to characterization, pacing, and plot sha ...more
Mark Oppenlander
James Michener once again takes us to the South Pacific. This unusual collection comprises short essays about various Pacific islands with each one then followed by a fictional story set in the same locale.

Michener's essays are OK, if a bit rambling. They offer some decent anthropological insights into the politics and sociology of these melting pots of humanity, especially as they were in the mid 20th-century. Michener assesses the natural beauty of these far-flung places as well as the perils
Adam Fleming
If you're going to dig into Michener, this isn't the place to start. I found a first print run copy at a used bookstore and had to have it for my collection. But Michener was still developing in 1951, and even though South Pacific was a big hit on Broadway by the time he wrote this, his conclusions were pretty colored by a fairly recent and deeply personal war. As a writer, since I've read so much of his later work, I found it interesting to see "the missing link" in his development; his approac ...more
Imagine reading a James Michener book with only two titles on the “also by this author” attribution page! Written in the late 1940s, these short stories are tales and recollections from Michener’s post-WWII revisit to the south Pacific islands. From his perspective, much has changed since the war on most islands. From our perspective, this is a historical snapshot of a south Pacific adjusting to cultural changes brought about by WWII. It depicts a transitional time before the south Pacific becam ...more
Adam K.
I enjoyed this one more than Tales of the South Pacific. I don't know if I was just paying more attention this time around or what, but it seems like Michener's voice had matured a bit (although he was already a master of his voice in the first one). Perhaps his perspective had somehow matured. I don't know. Anyway, a great read. The overall attraction to Michener's tales is this idea, even if it remains idealistic rather than an actual reality, of an unspoiled paradise. I say it's idealistic be ...more
Lynne Pennington
In a way, different from Tales From the South Pacific----yet similar also as regards the non-fiction chapters. You can really see where Michener started his signature writing----the in-depth history of a state or area mixed in with fiction. This book does it in a very formal way, alternating non-fiction and fiction (short story) chapters. I was fascinated since it is certainly a period piece---prices of things in the early 50's, for example. Good book---good history (which was current events whe ...more
I have read this book a couple of times in conjunction Tales of the South Pacific. I found its insights on the area insightful and prophetic given when it was written. Have an maps and Wikipedia to really get the most out of it.
transcribed my old journal where i talked about it here:
Not a fun entertaining book to read - but I learned alot about the South Pacific I never knew before so it was worth reading. This is a collection of essays James wrote about the South Pacific and I enjoyed the fictional stories more then the detailed accounts. It made me curious to know what the current situation of these islands were as of todate vs. post world war II to see if what he predicted came true. Intresting perspective on how the war was for the islanders.
Thomas Walton
Never heard of it, but found it in my Michener collection. Well... not one of his better books, but it was a totally different format for his writing, so I found that part of it interesting. It was a collection of essays, of which he put stories to each essay. As always, I learned alot from this book. A lot of it focused on colonization of the Islands by the Europeans.
One of the best books by Michener on his beloved South Seas. This book is not just a series of short stories. It also includes a wealth of information and history about the islands in Ploynesia, Melanesia, and Meganesia (Australia), from a geopolitical point of view. It's definitely worth a read for anyone who is interested in that part of the world.
Paul Berg
I felt kind of guilty enjoying this book, because it is sooo politically incorrect by today's standards. Keeping in mind when it was written, though, helps. It took me about 1/3 of the way in to get into the rhythm of the book - travel-log, story, travel-log, story, etc. If you like Michener (and I do!), then you'll probably like this book.
Aug 10, 2011 Vart added it
Shelves: fiction
Once again, Michener captures our soul with this beautiful work of his. A work which is an amalgam of history,( colonial issues have a significant importance), geography, science, romance, and art . And as I always say , Michener is the "Atlas Man"
Another book to read before my trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands in September of 2009. I enjoyed reading the essays followed by the stories. While fiction, the stories gave another view of the "truth."
Sep 01, 2008 Carmussel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Carmussel by: my husband got it for me
I like many of Michener's books, but this one is amazing. It's a combo of essays (e.g., atoll), then a short story on the same theme. This is another 'take to the desert island' book for me!
Different from many of his books, this book is a compilation of stories (many related to WWII) about the different Polynesian Islands. Good reading for the tropics.
Michener is my all time favorite author and this book doesn't disappoint. A historical travelogue through the islands of the South Pacific. A goldmine of information.
Amazing series of stories about some of the least-heard-of places on the planet. Engrossing, especially the part on the history of Hawaii...
Theophilus (Theo)
Follow-up to "Tales of the South Pacific" by one of the master story tellers. Not everyone that survived the war in the Pacific came home.
Robin (RBBR)
1953 film same Title as book and Until They Sail 1957 film based on a short story included in Return to Paradise
Good book -- very interesting stories about the south pacific. Not as good as some of his other books but still worth reading.
I have been thinking about the islands lately, so this was a perfect read for that reason alone.
Maureen Shillington
Michener's writing takes you there! Visit the South Pacific! Go!
Mitchner is always an informative read.
Michner takes us back to the South Pacific and captured my heart and soul.
My favorite book of all time. Give's your mind somewhere else to go.
Laura Nelson
Laura Nelson marked it as to-read
Aug 03, 2015
Dave Moore
Dave Moore marked it as to-read
Aug 02, 2015
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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
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“Other things being roughly equal, that man lives most keenly who lives in closest harmony with nature. To be wholly alive a man must know storms, he must feel the ocean as his home or the air as his habitation. He must smell the things of earth, hear the sounds of living things and taste the rich abundance of the soil and sea.” 4 likes
“I have often been mildly amused when I think that the great American novel was not written about New England or Chicago. It was written about a white whale in the South Pacific.” 2 likes
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