One of the most popular blog posts we’ve published to date is our article titled Top Ten James A. Michener Books. First posted over two years ago, it continues to be widely read, and the comment section has allowed readers, collectors, and general fans of Michener to agree or disagree with our list. Be sure to click over and read that post if you missed it before.
Obviously, Michener has endeared himself to many, and everyone has his or her favorites when it comes to the legendary author and historian’s work. We wanted to create a continuation of our previous post. So here are some more of what we—and many others—consider the top James A. Michener books.
Centennial was cited by many of our readers as being their favorite Michener work. Set in Colorado, Michener devoted much time to researching the area, the people who inhabited it, and their customs. Michener’s attention to detail—a trademark in all his writing—is on particular display in Centennial, and Michener details Colorado’s history in such a way that readers can see the sights and believe themselves to be friends and acquaintances with the characters.
Centennial was one of Michener’s numerous works to be adapted to TV and film. A miniseries based on the novel aired in 12 parts from 1978-1979. It was broadcast on NBC, and many credit the nationwide attention given to Colorado for the increase in population the state saw in the following decade.*
The Source (1965)
In this historical novel, published in 1965, Michener details the history of Israel and religion in the Middle East. Michener uses a modern-day (fictional) archaeological dig and the artifacts recovered on site to introduce stories and various episodes from the past. The use of this framing story—rather than just a chronologically ordered tale as is common with Michener—is a unique feature in The Source. He expertly weaves the present together with the ancient resulting in a truly fascinating and educational read.
Many of Michener's books are considered exhaustively researched, and The Source is no exception. At over 1,000 pages, The Source is a lengthy read, but the themes and history explored in such intricate detail are worth every last word.
Chesapeake Bay (1978)
Chesapeake Bay gives a sweeping history of families living in the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia and Maryland from the late 1500s to the late 1900s. Chesapeake Bay is a story of freedom sought. Edmund Steed, the story’s protagonist, immigrates to America from England, seeking freedom from religious persecution. The new life he makes for himself and his family is explored, along with the history of the location and the nation as a whole. Of course, the story spans over 400 years. Each chapter is defined by a particular moment in time, or voyage, including the Civil War, the Watergate scandal, and many other important moments in history.
Now we want to know you’re favorite Michener book. Is it one listed here? Or did we identify it in our first list? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re looking for a book that is sure to delight, pick up any of these James A. Michener titles.