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Chesapeake

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  24,099 ratings  ·  976 reviews
Once again James A. Michener brings history to life with this 400-year saga of America's great bay and its Eastern Shore. Following Edmund Steed and his remarkable family, who parallel the settling and forming of the nation, CHESAPEAKE sweeps readers from the unspoiled world of the Native Americans to the voyages of Captain John Smith, the Revolutionary War, and right up t ...more
Paperback, 1024 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Dial Press (first published January 1st 1978)
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Warren Hi Lynne, that is the chapter entitled "Three Patriots". In the Corgi paperback edition I have, Franklin enters on page 498.…moreHi Lynne, that is the chapter entitled "Three Patriots". In the Corgi paperback edition I have, Franklin enters on page 498.(less)
Jayne I just finished reading Chesapeake and the stories I believe you are referring to - when the area was introduced to Laborador Retrievers is in the cha…moreI just finished reading Chesapeake and the stories I believe you are referring to - when the area was introduced to Laborador Retrievers is in the chapter titled "The Watermen"
Hope this helps!(less)

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Telly
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history buffs and Marylanders
A friend of mine, upon moving to Baltimore, asked why the area was so eff'd up. A friend told her she should read this book. She's moved on to Denver, but we had a recent conversation about Baltimore, which is where I still reside. I posed the same question, and she gave me the answer that had been given to hear, "You should read "Chesapeake.""

Michener, I'm told by this friend, is a famed histo-geographical fictionalist, which is to say he writes stories that span centuries in a way in which a
...more
Betty
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a good story
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. It has a strong storyline, it is gripping and yet it has at times a gentleness about it. I have read this book twice, and do not rule out a third time....a rare thing for me. I loved this.
Tim
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Lots of good writing here with unfortunately many historical tragic instances of discrimination, real slavery and the horrors attached to it, white supremacy and outright hatred of blacks. I'm happy to permanently delete this from my library. 4 of 10 stars ...more
Alison Smith
Apr 27, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: patient readers in the Delmarva region
Don't be afraid of Michener! I've heard the rule is that you can put the book down if you're not finished in 6 months ha! I think I am 2 months in. Drink tea and read little by little. Chesapeake follows a bunch of families living on the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern shore from before pre-colonial times through....well, I'm still reading. About halfway through, I was tickled to read about a GOOSE FAMILY hahaha. HONK! ...more
Mat
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What is Michener's best book? Now that's a tough question. It's like asking 'what was Shakespeare's masterpiece?' or even 'what's your favourite Baskin & Robbins flavour ice-cream'? To me, based on the books I have read so far, it is a toss-up between Alaska, Hawaii and this marvellous page-turner, Chesapeake.
I'll admit I really had doubts that a story which was limited to the history and area surrounding Chesapeake Bay would hold me for the 700 + pages in which Michener likes to let his narrat
...more
Emma
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an amazing piece of writing, a real achievement. In my opinion this is far better than the style of writing by Edward Rutherford, although both deal with the concept and story of one place over a long time period. I learned so much from this book. I’m excited too because Michener has written many more that I want to read and he’s a new author to me.
Katie
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
There is no better way to make history digestible than by telling the story through fictional characters...dynasties, really. This was really a beautiful and telling account of American history, from the days of Native Americans to the tragedy of Watergate. The scope of the story is magnificent - from exploration, to taming the land, to revolutions, to pirates, to civil rights. One of the things that struck me was how dramatic of a change occurred between about 1890 to 1930. I was sort of disapp ...more
Nick
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: authors-michener
As with all the big Micheners I have read, I like the earlier chapters better than the later ones. The earlier chapters tend to deal with geology, natural history or fictional characters from earlier times. Later chapters cover political events around the time each novel was written, which date pretty quickly and make for dry reading. Still, Chesapeake was good and worth the time spent reading it.
Suzanne
James Michener has a remarkable talent for introducing a setting and taking his readers on a journey, that will make one understand the area through it's history and it's people. In Chesapeake, he forms a novel around that area in Maryland that borders the Choptank River, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.

Michener begins with the natives just prior to settlement by colonial English. Through native (and later colonial) eyes, the reader gets a good feel for the bounty available in this area. He descri
...more
Greg
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Chesapeake is the rambling story of a portion of the Chesapeake Bay area from the time just before Europeans arrived until the 1970's. While the story began well, eventually it really did begin to ramble but also it skipped major moments in history (the Civil War is mentioned as an afterthought and the Civil Rights movement is mentioned as a peripheral occurrence). These lapses in historical moments are an interesting choice, considering the nearly insignificant details that are included. At one ...more
Benny
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is my favorite by Michener. I read it the first time on a trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. If you ever visit this region, take this book along. It will make your trip a magical, spiritual experience. I read it again several years ago, and it brought back all those pleasant memories including tastes, sounds, sights, and smells. I could go for a soft-shell crab sandwich just thinking about it!
Laura
Just arrived from USA through BM.

The cover of this edition, provided by Wikipedia, is the following:



This book covers the history of the North American east, mainly Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where the Choptank River flows into the Chesapeake.

By covering the historical period from 1583 to 1978, the author describes many historical facts and plenty of main characters, showing how the founders of 4 families will dominate the main plot: the Steeds, the Paxmores, the Caters and the Turlocks. Some str
...more
Sarah
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a tome!
I finally finished it after 3 solid months of listening/reading. Truly epic tale that taught me so much about my home states of MD and VA. Stories, characters, families, themes that will stay with me. My friend Helen told us it was the book that mattered most as she settled into her new home here after arriving from England.
Jim
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
About average for him. Not my favorite writer, but the area interested me since I lived there for about 40 years. It's worth reading once, certainly. ...more
Erika Robuck
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm a lifelong Maryland resident who has always lived a stone's throw from the Chesapeake, so this book resonated with me. It's a sweeping, multigenerational story of epic disfunction, but also an ode to a region and its very human people.

Michener writes with poetry about the environment, capturing with clarity and detail the rivers, lands, and wildlife of the Chesapeake. On the families, he shines an unflinching and often uncomfortable light on the inheritance of sin, exploitation, racism, and
...more
Anthony
Jun 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I still rank Centennial is my #1 (of the three) Michener books I've read, but this one comes next. I had a blast with Chesapeake. Michener is such a great writer, to perfectly describe the regions in his book and describe its history. The ending was a bit surprising!

Since I live in NJ, in the Delaware valley, the Chesapeake region is not far from where I live. In fact, I've crossed the Susquehanna River numerous times in my travels. One day, I plan to bring my kayak out there and exp
...more
LemonLinda
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a great overview of life in the Chesapeake and Eastern Shore of Maryland from pre-colonization forward told first through the eyes of the Native Americans and then through the many generations of Steeds, the planters of Devon Island, Paxmores, the intellectual Quakers living on Peace Cliff as well as the Turlocks who intermixed with the natives and were most comfortable living and at times barely surviving in the marshes, the Caters who were direct descendants of the African, Cudjo, and the ...more
Camille Siddartha
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Besides being really long. It is well written. If you have the time, read this.
Bodosika Bodosika
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author is a great storyteller.
Kristie Helms
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For the past 10 years, my wife and I have vacationed on the James River -- nearly across the river from Jamestown VA. It's an amazing vacation -- eating crabs, watching sunsets and the fury of storms blowing down the James River.

We usually arrive from Boston by driving down the Eastern Shore or DelMarVa peninsula. It always seems so isolated to me. A region out of time and just barely connected to the mainland of the US. This book, which I begun during what will in all likelihood be our last tr
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This is another Michener that I read forever ago. I remember wanting to walk along the Maryland shoreline and eat some of those shell-less crabs he talks about or feast on some oysters. The book talks about slavery and poverty in all their respective complexities while avoiding being melodramatic or overbearing. The characters are not as developed as one finds in Faulkner, but the breadth of the story is much larger from the Indian settlements before the arrival of white men until the 1970s when ...more
Katie
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: katie-reads-100
Every time I read a sweeping multi-generational family saga, I really enjoy it. I think I should read more. I love seeing how an individual fits into the larger framework of their family, and how that individual is tied to and influenced by their familial past, even as they have no idea its happening. I wish we could see ourselves and our associates in such a framework in real life. Michener focused hard on religion, race relations and environmentalism in this work, so much so, that sometimes it ...more
Megan Oldland
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel is a work of art. The amount of real historical events that occurred around the Chesapeake Bay are covered throughout the story and the fictional characters are woven into these events in a most intriguing manner.
Manu
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
From 1583 to 1978 the saga moves, tracking the lives of individuals, their families, the society they live in, and most importantly the place where all of this happens. Chesapeake is as much about a way of life, as it is about the place and its people.

The book is typical Michener, and uses individual stories across generations to show the way a place and its society has evolved. Even as each generation's story is read, it is difficult to realise the passage of time, since sometimes the changes
...more
Alan Blood
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read 'Chesapeake' some thirty years ago - yet the vivid memories and impact of it are still with me today so that I intend to reread it again if time ever permits ! I mention the time factor because it sits in that genre of massive 'blockbusters'(alongside 'War And Peace') - the size of a brick and unputdownable !

In this masterpiece, James A. Michener encapsulates almost the entire history of America within the microcosm of the Chesapeake Bay area, with its ancient abundance of fish, herons an
...more
Angela
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I grew up with sagas and just ate up all the Michener books while in high school.
Travis
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Finally read my Christmas gift from 1978. Not a bad story really. Funny that I've kept the book around this long. ...more
Mark
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read for the 2020 PopSugar reading challenge. This is "A book published in the 20th century."

For the entirety of my life, with the exception of one summer where I never officially changed residence, I have lived in a place where all water eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay and from there into the Atlantic Ocean. The signs are ubiquitous: "NO DUMPING - CHESAPEAKE BAY DRAINAGE." The fourth month of everyone's pandemic isolation seemed like just the time to tackle a 1,000 page book of fiction
...more
Geoffrey
Jun 16, 2022 rated it liked it
A solid historical fiction epic overall, and a decent education on a part of the country that I was previously fairly unfamiliar with. However, I think that I'm still searching for the literary high that I experienced when I read my first Michener, Hawaii about a year ago when I happily traversed through several hundred years over the span of several hundred pages. Chesapeake meanwhile was a book where I much more acutely felt its length, especially after the first half. By the last few chapters ...more
Anne Kadet
Sep 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had so much fun learning so much about something I absolutely do not care about!
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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
...more

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“A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but actually it is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge.” 7 likes
“From the earliest days of the nation anyone with an intelligence equal to that of sparrows had realized that the peninsula ought logically to be united as one state, but historical accident had decreed that one portion be assigned to Maryland, whose citizens despised the Eastern Shore and considered it a backwater; one portion to the so-called state of Delaware, which never could find any reasonable justification for its existence; and the final portion to Virginia, which allowed its extreme southern fragment of the Eastern Shore to become the most pitiful orphan in America.” 4 likes
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