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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  22,731 ratings  ·  883 reviews
In this classic novel, James A. Michener brings his grand epic tradition to bear on the four-hundred-year saga of America’s Eastern Shore, from its Native American roots to the modern age. In the early 1600s, young Edmund Steed is desperate to escape religious persecution in England. After joining Captain John Smith on a harrowing journey across the Atlantic, Steed makes a ...more
ebook, 1024 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by The 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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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  22,731 ratings  ·  883 reviews

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Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Erika Robuck
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
The author is a great storyteller.
Kristie Helms
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Alan Blood
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up with sagas and just ate up all the Michener books while in high school.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally read my Christmas gift from 1978. Not a bad story really. Funny that I've kept the book around this long. ...more
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the first book I have read by this author. I am always impressed, if not amazed, by his depth of knowledge concerning the topography, people, and in-depth history of the areas about which he writes. This book was no exception. The book unfolds in voyages, fourteen in all, and takes us across an amazing four centuries. It begins with the native tribes living in the Choptank area of the country in the 16th century, and moves across time as colonists embark from Europe. Amazingly, he tr ...more
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
I almost put this down after 200 pages because it's so ferociously non-literary, but I'm glad I slogged through. Michener takes a god's eye view of the region, beginning with John Smith and the Indians, and unrolls the history through the generations of 4 families--plantation owners, Quakers, low-life "watermen", and African American. There are cameo appearances from George Washington and other worthies, incursions by pirates, chapters on boat building--even a crab cake recipe, and a little dram ...more
Doris A.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a way, if you've read one Michener, you've read them all. But not because, after all, just because you know the history of mankind in Spain (or Hawaii or Poland) doesn't mean you know it for ... the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I started this novel my first week in DC. It was a thousand pages long. It became a roadblock between me and the next book ("I will not open another book until I finish this!") and I let it block me for over a year (I was busy!). All that said, I'm glad to have read it. ...more
John Worthington
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Michener book and I am sorry it took me so long to read this author. The size of his books made me hesitant to start a book. I loved this book and the way he used the geese, ducks and crane throughout the book. My favorite chapters were the stories about the ducks. Michener uses fictional families to tell the story of the Chesapeake area (VA and Maryland). He doesn't shy away from the ugly period of slavery and is an excellent story teller. I am a new fan.

This book does contain
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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

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