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The World Is My Home: A Memoir

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  742 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Literary legend James A. Michener was “a Renaissance man, adventurous, inquisitive, unpretentious and unassuming, with an encyclopedic mind and a generous heart” (The New York Times Book Review). In this exceptional memoir, the man himself tells the story of his remarkable life and describes the people, events, and ideas that shaped it. Moving backward and forward across t ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 1991)
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Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir that should be read by everyone who reads and writes. Michener describes his life and his influences on his writing.

Michener describes his world travels and the ideas he drew from them. I found his time in the South Seas to be most fascinating. Albeit that was the area he focused on the most, he also touched upon many of the other places he traveled to for his writing research.

One of the best things about this memoir was some of the books he read. It lead me to some new stories
I'm on page 199 and so far I have to ask this question: REALLY? Can this author really have accomplished so much in his life? I feel like a couch potato compared to him and I don't even watch t.v.!!


A bit of a Renaissance Man, James Michener was an aficionado of opera and classical music, as well as art, collecting enough prints to form a small art museum. In his youth, he read classical literature from many lands. He was, of course, a writer of non-fiction as well as fiction. And a trav
Rex Fuller
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
With undiminished affection for Michener and his work, I admit I only skimmed the last parts of this one–the constant digressions got to me a bit. But at some point it will worm its way back for true completion.

Let’s remember, Michener originally had no birth certificate. No one could tell him when, where, or to whom he was born. As they say, not an auspicious start. He grew up with a number of other abandoned babies in the home of Mabel Michener, whose husband died young, and the broader, real
Aug 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-books
My apologies to my friend who kept putting this forward as a book club selection. I voted against it two years in a row. My fellow bookclubbers picked it by majority rule. I'm so glad they did! This is an incredible memoir. Some of the stories are so fantastical that it is hard to believe that one person could have accomplished everything in this book.

The book starts with tales of him in World War II on a ship headed for the South Pacific. They had to mutiny against the captain to get food and w
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was the best “short book” of Michener’s that I have read, an invaluable tour through the world of a writer of the last century who made a lot of money at it. Even though this memoir reads like a literary version of Sinatra’s song, “My Way,” this author accomplished and witnessed a lot during his long and colourful life without having to resort to the tabloids for fame.

An orphan, raised by a single foster mother and brought up a Quaker, Michener had a stoic discipline that helped him overcom
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the very best books about one of the very best authors of all times. I believe Michener's passing left a huge void in the literary world, which will take some time to fill.

This is a must for anyone who every enjoyed his books.
Steph (loves water)
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers
Recommended to Steph (loves water) by: Quirkyreader
Shelves: 2016, memoir
Outstanding. This man was amazing. Every section he wrote about, I related, in some way. He had me rediscovering Beethoven and looking up artists I've never heard of. I loved his stories of the South Pacific (real and fiction), and his views on politics, philosophy, and education. Highly recommended. ...more
Barbara King
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This memoir is a must read for Michener fans. And even if you are not yet a fan, it is very worthwhile. Michener traveled the world and lived where may of his books are set. He was not only a writer but a humanitarian. He ran for congress unsuccessfully but that led to opportunities for government service. He was part of President Nixon’s entourage on his historic trip to China. In 1956, he happened to be in Vienna when Hungarians were escaping their country following their failed revolution. He ...more
Joe Clark
This memoir is like a Michener novel - starts strong but runs on too long. The man lived an amazing life and his war stories make interesting reading. But his views on writing are stodgy and snobbish.
Nov 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
11/5/20: Will read concurrently w/ Michener's Poland.

Gave up on Poland. Moving this behind the wall for now.

1/26/21: Have recently read The Bridges At Toko-Ri and now am reading Tales of the South Pacific, so will go back to this.

2/7/21: The first sentence of the book says, "This will be a strange kind of autobiography because I shall offer the first seven chapters as if I had never written a book, the last seven as if that were all I had done." But the book clearly is a memoir, not an autobiogr
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Throughout this charming autobiography, James A. Michener portrays himself as an average man with average talent and experience. He wrote nothing non-academic until after age 40. He says he only became successful by immersing himself in his subject matter and by keeping a strictly disciplined writing schedule. As one reads the biography though, it’s obvious that his character and lifestyle are far from average. He calls himself a storyteller rather than an author. He wrote this book at age 84, a ...more
John Majors
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very inspiring book for those wanting to write/create. Michener wrote something like 40 books in his life. His VERY FIRST BOOK won the Pulitzer and was turned into a world famous broadway show and movie "South Pacific." That launched him, but he still had to keep writing. He does a good job painting a picture for how easy it would have been for him to quit after that first book. So many people told him he couldn't write and he should give up (including his agent!), that he was lucky to win the P ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
In my teens and twenties, I was a big fan of James A. Michener, and I have read most of his books, some of them ("Tales of the South Pacific" and "The Source") more than once. So I was curious to read his auto-biography and was pleased that I did. I did not know much about Michener the person, and he incorporated just about everything I would ever have wanted to learn about him: his youth in Doylestown, PA, his college years at Swarthmore College, his life up to WWII, his career in the U.S. Navy ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
His memoir was too long! In the edition I read, it ran 512 pages, there were so few times that I found myself quickly turning pages to read what was next. If he had written his novels in this fashion I would never have read more than one. I rate him as one of my favorite writers (he prefers this designation than "author"), but I just wish I had never read this book. I also found it frustrating that he never mentions how he came to live with the woman whom he would later think of as his mother. H ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting but frustrating read, James Michener's autobiography is organized basically thematically rather than chronologically - with endless annoying references to what he's either said before or what he's going to tell you later.

Much of it was interesting - James Michener came from extremely humble beginnings, but led an extraordinarily large life - but there were more than a few eye rolls at yet another "I'm so smart/humble/honest/well-educated/whatever" passage.

It was also an extremely
Haggis Chihuahua
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
My Dawg, but I'm glad I finally finished reading this one--five hundred pages, all of them pretentious, in which he explains over and over and over again why he's not pretentious. GAH!

Michener has long been one of my favorite authors, but if the man himself was anything like he presented in this memoir, he had to be the most annoying person in whatever room he walked into, and in whatever city he chose to live.

I gave this two stars only because he was a veteran of WWII and I have much respect f
Colin Drake
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Michener is the archetype for "a gentleman." This book can be a bit dry in certain spots, it's not for everyone, but if you want to read a story about a man who lived a damn good life then I think this may be a good place to start. ...more
Valerie Bell
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was an interesting autobiographical insight into Michener's early life and the geography and cultures that formed his writing. Probably only interesting if you are a Michener fan. I am.
Eileen Division
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wordy, but that's Michener. He spins a good yarn, even about his own life. ...more
Cliff Ward
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
'You're not a Michener! Who in hell do you think you are, trying to be better than you are?" This is one of James early memories when he was refused birthday cake at a family party when he was a young child.
Orphan James, taken in by a very poor but loving single woman when he was a young boy, lived in a total state of poverty such that he grew up with nutritional deficiencies which caused long lasting health problems and he had never played with a single toy that he did not have the creativity t
Amber Lea
This book is really hard to rate, because my feelings about it were all over the place.

Parts of it were so interesting that I couldn't put it down, and other parts were really dull, and others downright annoying. For example, I felt like he was constantly pointing out that he's an exceptionally humble man, while also pointing out that's he's pretty damn good at everything. "I'm not a genius or anything, but...obvs, I'm a genius you guys, come on."

It's probably important to point out that I haven
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be valuable to have read at least a few of Michener’s novels before delving into this memoir. His recounting is not chronological (it’s organized by topic) nor does he give many dates in the anecdotes so you may understandably get a mite confused as to when he did what he did. If you have rules about how memoirs should be composed, perhaps give this one a bye.

There are plenty of reviews to peruse so I’ll limit remarks to saying that I got more from some parts than from others. I enjoye
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit wordy, a bit egotistical

That about sums it up. Yes, Michener was prolific with his long books, good for a long summer read or snuggled up in front of a winter fire. But he needs a good editor to cut down the cloying repetition. I have in the past enjoyed many of his books, Hawaii, The Source, Chesapeake but that must have been a time when I had nothing else to do. At the close of this book was an excerpt from Hawaii and I can see how the cadence of the words can lull one into a dreamlike w
Alice Griffin
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent writing as one would expect from Michener. This book, his memoir, gives much insight into what motivated him to write and how he was able to be such a prolific writer. Perhaps even more so than his best characters, Michener was an accomplished human being far beyond the books he wrote. He was extremely intelligent - encyclopedic, actually and had so many things he loved and explored. He became an expert in all that interested him. In reading this book, I felt as if I knew him personall ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Michener was a fine writer and researcher and a generous patron of the arts; he was also an expert at using the “humble brag” in his memoir. At one point, I expected him to drop in a throw away line about visiting Mars. He didn’t, but I think he “humbly” recorded every single thing he ever did that he was proud of, while reminding us how humble he was all the while. Still, I imagine he was an interesting person to talk to, and he certainly left a remarkable legacy behind.
Patti Townley-Covert
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Almost put this book down as it was slow reading. But just about that time, I became more engrossed in the story and his experiences as a writer so the inconsequential details seemed worth reading to get to the valuable nuggets. I had no idea Michener's life was as full as it was or the lengths he went to in order to understand the topics he wrote about. ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great memoir by one of my favorite authors. A modest reflection of his life from start Well into his 80s ... well traveled, a veteran and a patriot, not interesting in selling books but rather telling stories. A writer. Have loved his narratives and this memoir sets the stage for many of his writings with behind the scene thoughts. Can’t wait to read all of his novels.
William H. Brown
A Learning Experience

I've read Michener before - Hawaii, Alaska, The Source - but never anything about Michener. What a unique, interesting, and brilliant man he was. What a thoroughly full life he lead. You'll learn much from him. And it all comes from the man himself - no second or third hand anecdotes. Highly recommended.
Jan Norton
Aug 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Over the years I have read most of James Michener‘s book books. And I have enjoyed each one though some more than others. This book which is a look into the man that Michener is was truly a delight to read. He is a man who practice what he believed I did not cave to pressure or money. I’m glad I took the time to read this book.
Feb 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any and all Michener fans.
I really enjoyed this book, so much more so than I ever expected. I have all of Michener's books, and it was fantastic to take little trips back in time to learn how different books he wrote came about. But most importantly, his was a life of many unexpected twists and turns that left him a better writer, and a better storyteller, for all of his world travels.
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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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