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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,066 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Here, in the fresh, vivid prose that is James Michener's trademark, is the real Spain as he experiences it. He not only reveals the celebrated Spain of bullfights and warror kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards; he also shares the intimate, often hidden Spain he has come to know, where toiling peasants and their honest food, the salt of the shores ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published October 12th 1984 by Fawcett Crest Books (first published 1968)
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Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I did a second (different) review of this book a while ago - - with lots of pictures. It wasn't as well liked as this one I did originally. So I thought I'd resubmit this one in case some readers might find it useful. The book is still in print, and though it must be dated to some extent, I have a GR friend who moved to Spain in the last year, and has said he has found it useful to have as a suggestion for travels and things to see.

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Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Travellers in Spain; interest in Spain
Spain was a theocracy, and I had lived in Israel and Pakistan, which were also theocracies, and the problems of such governments tend to be the same, whether the theocracy is Jewish, Muslim, or Catholic.

Father Jesus Precedo Lafuente. [chapter: Santiago de Compostela]

I've written a prior review in which I give more of an overview of the book, here:

My second reading of this book, begun last year, is being terminated today (at least for the foreseeable futur
Roy Lotz
In a sense no visitor can ever be adequately prepared to judge a foreign city, let alone an entire nation; the best he can do is to observe with sympathy.

Travel writing is like love poetry. All travelers and lovers are convinced that their experiences are unique, and therefore worth writing about; while in reality most travel stories and love poems express nearly the same basic sentiment, over and over, with only minor variations. Both genres are easy to write and hard to read, which is why fa
May 26, 2014 added it
Shelves: started
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
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-booklist
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
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much, even though I'm not normally a fan of this author. Typically long-winded, and very anecdotal compared to his other works. I think that this was a more personal book, with stories of what he saw and learned from his encounters, made me like it more.

It reads like a travelogue, and, since I want to go to Spain, I enjoyed hearing about it. In fact, that's how I "read" this: I listened to the unabridged audio in my car. It was an interesting experience in driving throug
May 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spain, travel
This is a fascinating book. Most definitely a product of the times (late 1960's) and not at all impartial (though occasionally pretending to be), Iberia is a deep reflection on Spain from an outsider who loves the country. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes borderline offensive - it's still enjoyable and a great jumping off point for your own research into different aspects of Spain and Spanish life. It's also really really really long, but I thought it was a relatively quick read - ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
J Guay
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it, but it was tough. alternated between dull and fascinating vignettes. Not the usual michner story. Not sure why I finished it but I did, and now on to something else in the growing bedside pile.
Charles Shapiro
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked getting to know Mitchner's personality and individual quirks as he discusses his relationship with Spain and adds some commentary on his interpretation of events. He was very knowledgeable about the arts, architecture, music and bull fighting. He throws in Spanish history. I was wondering what kept him from writing a novel on Spain. It seems he had a lot of the history, geography, and culture to write a novel. Maybe he was too close to the country to be able to weave a story line. Or may ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-finishing
LOVED this travelogue. Michener uses his great flowing writing style to discuss each Spanish city. I loved the detail...he tells each city's culture, history, lifestyles, monuments, streets, dwellings.

I did not finish this wonderful book ONLY because it was just TOO much to take in without being in Spain. We will make a trip to Spain with this book and live every page.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Love all of James Michener's books! I plan on reading every one of his books. He transports you to wonderful places.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I thought this would be a novel, not a non-fiction account. Not what I was interested in reading.
Rod Innis
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great book - written some time ago about his travels all over Spain.
He has some great insights into Spanish history and culture.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever been to Spain or planning to go to Spain, you really should read this book. In fact, if you even think you want to go to Spain and wonder if it's worth going, then you should read this book, because it will give you the nudge you need.

IBERIA is a stunning achievement by a rather prodigious writer who not only explains the grand moments of Spanish history (e.g. from the prehistory, to the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moorish Empire, the Reconquista, the Spanish expansion to the New
Mar 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, history
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
Pat Wartinger
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent detailed, thoughtful account of travel in Spain. Includes history, art, architecture, religions, various people, animals, foods, politics. Great to read before going to Spain.
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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)

Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
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
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
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
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Lindsey Wallis
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Ann Otto
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Michener is known for historical fiction, but this is a detailed travelogue of Spain written in 1968. I didn't know that he considered Spain his second home. The chapters in this 938 page book (many photos throughout) each describe the history of and his experiences in a particular town, or with a particular topic (bullfighting is one). The book is very detailed and must be read slowly. I've only been to Barcelona and want to see the rest of Spain sometime, so the book is going into my travel dr ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a beast to get through and I took some serious time off after I began reading. It was an epic novel which had me looking on the iphone/internet for more information on art and history than I could handle, since there was so much of interest. It is different than his other novels which have ficticious characters. It was simply a Michener travelogue. I can't believe one person could know so much about Spain and its' culture, let alone the fact that he has written many epic novels about ot ...more
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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
More about James A. Michener...
“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
“For of this world one never sees enough and to dine in harmony with nature is one of the gentlest and loveliest things we can do.” 1 likes
More quotes…