Robert's Reviews > Tales of the South Pacific

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
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Jul 22, 09

bookshelves: 2008-9-season
Read in July, 2009

This is a book I have heard about for years and finally spurred myself to read - it did not disappoint. The characters and settings from the stage play and the movie are here but they are far from being central to the stories. The book is like a cross between Hemingway and Cain - a product of its time that surpasses the constraints of time. "The Landing on Kuralei" reads like the first twenty minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" looks, brutal and honest. "Coral Sea" captures the day to day insulation of sailors from the wider scope of war, and "The Strike" takes the same type of random sailors and shows them in the final moments when boredom breaks on the shore of imminent action.

If you expect happy dancing natives, easily resolved love stories and a feel-good lecture on the evils of racism, be forewarned that all of those spring from the mind of Rogers and Hammerstein. Michener's characters are less likable, but ultimately more real.
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