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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  4,714 ratings  ·  314 reviews
Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener, whose novels hurtle from the far reaches of history to the dark corners of the world, paints an intoxicating portrait of a land whose past and present are as turbulent, fascinating, and colorful as any other on Earth. When an American journalist travels to report on the upcoming duel between two great matadors, he is ultimat ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published March 2nd 1994 by Fawcett Books (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  4,714 ratings  ·  314 reviews

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Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Since I have read two of Michener's other works- The Source and Poland- and found them fascinating and riveting and found Michener to be a fine writer , , I had expected something similar with Mexico.
And he certainly shows his talent for fine historical narrative in parts of the book.
Taking us through a journey into the history of Toledo, in Mexico, through the decline of a great nation of builders, through their discovery the drug, pulque found in the Maguey plant, the rebellion by a brave Alto
Mexico by James Michener is a sweeping saga of the colorful and often tumultuous history of Mexico and its people. This takes place in the fictional city of Toledo, Mexico where Norman Clay, an American journalist, comes to explore his Spanish roots as well as to report on its Festival of Ixmiq-61 and its bullfights pitting two celebrated matadors in a decisive duel; the Spaniard Victoriano executing dramatic arabesques versus Juan Gomez, the relentless little Indian. Clay reports that it is "ap ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Would have been 5 stars but way too much on bullfighting.
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read most of this book during my first week in Mexico. It explains the unique culture of Mexico through the combined histories of its native and Spanish peoples. It relies heavily on the art of bullfighting as a metaphor. It's more captivating than others of his works I've read. I especially appreciate that, for once, the moral that always comes in the last 50 pages was more personal (involving the narrator, who resembles Michener, acting on his own inspiration). Now I just need to catch mysel ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
OK I finished this blasted book. I'm giving it 4 stars out of deference to Michener who was a good man and a more than respectable story-teller and he gave several million dollars to UT-Austin.
But this book was too #($&)@# long, dammit. Where are the editors? In fact, toward the end I started noting repetitive passages where I would have cut out the fat. I started reading objectively like an editor and that's not a good sign
It's a shame because there's a lot of good here too, and I learned somet
Jul 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Despite my affection for Michener, I have to say I was disappointed in this book. It has the wrong title, is too long and he fictionalized in areas where I felt truth would have made it a stronger novel.

As I noted in my review of his My Lost Mexico, I don’t know how or why I neglected this book in the past. In My Lost Mexico Michener explains how he began the novel, abandoned it for 30 years and then returned to write what became another of his bestsellers. I don’t think the end result was the b
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How I felt about that book varied from section to section. Ironically, the parts I liked best were the modern (or near modern since they were set in 1961) parts concerning bullfighting, of all things. I have never been interested in the sport, but these parts were so interesting that, paraphrasing what King Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul, "almost thou persuadest me to see a bullfight". BUT King Agrippa never became Christian and I have no intention of seeing a bullfight. Four stars for these p ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
Well, I gather I cannot expect to enjoy all of an author's work and this was for me a real missfire. Originally published in 1992, Mexico and its history is told through the eyes of Mexican-American Norman Clay and is written in the first person. Albeit a different approach than his other novels, I wasn't bothered by this because I really just wanted to delve into Mexico's history.

But Michener pulls a Herman Melville(see Moby Dick) on us and a rather large majority of the text is taken up by bu
Robyn Harrison
Aug 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
I didn't really read all of this book. I read the first 100 pages but it was all about bull fighting. I don't like bull fighting. I quit reading it. ...more
Bodosika Bodosika
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mexico
A book about the history of Mexico and the art of bullfighting... An interesting book.
Paul Cornelius
Imagine you wrote a grinding, repetitive novel with cardboard characters and whose theme had bullfighting at its center, bullfighting being a metaphor for the blending of Spanish and Indian culture in Mexico. For hundreds of pages. Imagine thirty years later that bullfighting is not only illegal in many locales in Mexico but soon may be illegal nationally. Some might say you got things about as wrong as they could be. And so James Michener did with this plodding novel that relies on sentimentali ...more
Lauren Contreras-Loreto
I was really looking forward to reading this as I had heard many a good thing about Michener's books. I was instead really disappointed to find that he had created a character who was the worst kind of "explainer" who never trusts the audience and who constantly needs an ignorant hanger-on to explain the concepts in the book. Much as in the "Paris Wife" this is a non-character who has secretly been at the heart of all things- but who also has to claim legitimacy by at different times claiming he ...more
Michael Sump
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m a big fan of James Michener, but I have to say that this book was not his best. Michener had a unique ability to comprehensively blend the history, geography, and culture of a place into an interesting story. He did a good job on Mexico, and I enjoyed the result of his effort--but I have to say that this “novel” did not come up to the high standard of excellence that he achieved in _Alaska_, _The Caribbean_, _Hawaii_, and _Space_.

It’s hard to imagine that a subject could have been too big f
Nanette Buccola
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
3 to 4 ⭐️ depending. Very long (650 pages) and drawn out with details. If not for bookclub I would not have read. But.... if you like history it really was informative. The story centers around bullfighting but goes into depth about the history of Mexico.
Kathryn in FL
I love historical fiction and have read a great deal on Asian and African history as well as North American and European (particularly the 20th century, that is World War II). I enjoyed the movie adaptation of Hawaii and for some reason never picked up a Michener book, though I had heard many great things. I have been struggling greatly to complete the first quarter of the book which focuses on the narrator, a half-Mexican Journalist Norman Clay, who is covering a bull fight in the fictional cit ...more
Matthew Gonio
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you thought Hemingway could tell a bullfighting story, wait until you read this epic story.
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the 1980s, when James Michener was finishing up a novel in Austin -- and I also lived in Austin -- I wrote him a letter asking if he'd please consider writing about Mexico. (I'd lived in Mexico several years and was always fascinated by the multi-level history, and thought it would make a good Michener novel.)

A short time after writing to him, his Mexico book was published. Turns out the manuscript was mostly complete so it didn't take much time to finish. I like to think he took my advice,
James Martin
Jul 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
What a b---S--t book! I can understand the characters being fictitious but whole book is made up.
The historic native indians-made up, the City it all revolves around: completely made up, the
General Gurza character so central to the action: completely made up.

Worse yet this book is not about Mexico it's about Bull fighting. On top of that it all about the made up history of the fictitious central figure and his family history which is so contrived as to ridiculous.

There is reason he could not h
Sarah Toppins
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Started this book before taking a trip to the Copper Canyon section of Mexico. The book is typical James Michener - long with some history and a present-day story. This current-day story is about bull-fighting. And the history dealt with native Mexican ()Indian communities, Spanish immigrants and conquerors, and a few ex-pat Confederate soldiers. While these stories were interesting, they didn't shed any light of the areas I was visiting, so it took me a long time to finish the book and dampened ...more
Judi Mayer
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read all of James Michener's books - all while he was still living so quite a while ago. Mexico and Texas were two of my favorites. All of his books are slow starters in that there is a lot of detail about the place and characters as they evolve but they are wonderful stories of both the people and the geography that shaped them. I have read that personally he was very fond of the southwest, particularly Texas ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed historical fiction and Michener is my favorite author. When I travel I like to find one of his books to help me appreciate the culture I will be visiting. Since I was sending time on the beach in Mexico, this book was perfect! I gained a greater respect for this country, its history, and its people.
Giles Moustache
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Ever since meeting James Michener at Liz Carpenter's house in the Westlake neighborhood of Austin where I once heard Lady Bird Johnson and Jimmy Carter sing and play the piano--I was 15 or 16 and a playmate of Carpenter's nephew--I've wanted to give Michener a try; he seemed so legendary, like the others, a relic in a good way, a walking memento of another better time, a contemporary of John Huston, which puts me in mind of some of my favorite movies of Mexico (not Mexican movies) such as Night ...more
John Senner
I liked Hawaii, so I was hopeful when I dug Mexico out of the shelf. Alas, not so good. Binational Norman Clay visits his old hometown to report on bull fights. He reprises the Indian, Spanish, and Virginia Confederate parts of his ancestry and how they came together in high plateau Mexican town with a silver mine. And lots of bull fights and behind the scenes of the whole business.
Carolyn Parker
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
You have to admire the research put into this book. I learned a lot about Mexico and it's history and more than I wanted to know about bull fights!

The fictional story used to tell these historical facts is a little slow moving. Be warned: this book is 625 pages!
Jan 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 stars. A lot of this book was really great and I was entertained the whole time, but I wish there was more time spent in the distant past and less about "modern" bullfighters. There weren't quite enough stories set before Columbus for me to be completely happy. ...more
Elizabeth Frick
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because I wanted to learn more about Mexican history, and this seemed an easier route than just reading a straight up history. I learned a little bit, but it is mostly about bullfighting, and after reading a quarter of it, I could not stomach anymore.
Dec 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Not my favorite Michener. Too much detail re: bull fighting/ matadors IMHO. I did enjoy the historical characters.
Jay Wright
Not much on bullfighting therefore this gets 3 stars. If you have read Michener, many of his books follow a family through history. This family is Spanish, Indian, and American. The history part is fascinating (bull fighting less so). The American is a result of an expatriated Confederate from the Richmond, Virginia area. It is a decent read, just missing something.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More fiction than history.

No sex, violence or foul language
Juliet Doubledee
I enjoyed this book as it describes a journalist (Norman Clay) coming to terms with his Mexican and American heritage during an epic show-down between two matadors in the bullring in his hometown in Mexico. Michener does a great job descibing the world of bull fighting, while intertwining his interpretation of Mexican history from the indian culture through the migration of American ex-patrioits arriving just after the U.S. CivilWar.
The book begins very well and keeps the interest of the reader
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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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