John's Reviews > Centennial

Centennial by James A. Michener
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Jul 31, 08

Recommended for: history buffs
Read in July, 2008

I could even consider giving this book the highest rating, but I held back because it was a little dated and a little awkwardly heavy handed in parts.
Basically I always wondered if people just had Michener books on their shelves because they were long and impressive looking, or if they were actually good and engrossing reads. I started The Source a while ago, but gave up when I got close to the present day. I found the stuff about ancient times really interesting, but the more modern it got the more it lost me. I feel I should give it another chance. Centennial was interesting all the way through, partially because even the more modern stuff was still the old west, and it's hard to make the old west boring.
I think it is a little ridiculous to start the book in dinosaur times. I know he wants to be thorough, but the stuff about the animals just isn't nearly as compelling as the stuff about the people. The reader also needs to suspend his disbelief just a bit, as sometimes the characters throughout history are a little too convieniently linked to each other. But for the most part, the story really does flow along nicely, the characters are compelling, the plot twists are well played, and he does evoke the setting very well. I actually felt myself getting emotionally wrapped up in these characters, and feeling sad when they died, which doesn't always happen to a reader.
It's funny the way some of this is dated. I find it crazy that a normal person from the east coast in 1973 would never have eaten a taco, or had a coors. I guess the world has changed, but man, that seems ridiculous. In fact the whole framework he puts this story in is a little silly, framing each chapter as a project for a magazine in New York. I think Michener could have come up with a better structural device than that. In fact, that's why I gave it four stars, in retrospect.
But anyway, If you want a book that's evocative of the west, the plains in particular, I highly recommend this one.
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Comments (showing 1-3)




dateUp arrow    newest »

Mary Beth In the early 70's you really couldn't buy Coors east of the Mississippi..true!!


message 2: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Vanden Heuvel Mary Beth speaks the truth. My dad talks about how going to Colorado always involved bringing back Coors because it was so rare here in WI.


message 1: by GymGuy (new)

GymGuy and yes. in the early 70's, Taco Bell was unheard of in the East, let alone anything as "uncivilized" as spicy Mexican food.


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