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Literary Reflections


Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener has been writing for over seven decades. This book presents Michener's analysis of his own writing and that of his peers—his reflections, remembrances, and stories of his youthful encounters with the era's notable personages.

For any who do not know him, this is their chance to meet this extraordinary man. For his millions of fans, this is the chance to know him ...

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener has been writing for over seven decades. This book presents Michener's analysis of his own writing and that of his peers—his reflections, remembrances, and stories of his youthful encounters with the era's notable personages.

For any who do not know him, this is their chance to meet this extraordinary man. For his millions of fans, this is the chance to know him better.

150 duotone illustrations, 176 pages, 9 x 11-1/2"

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michener is a delight to read." —The Baltimore Sun

"A master storyteller, Mr. Michener, by any standards, is a phenomenon." —The Wall Street Journal

"Michener is a master." —The Boston Herald

"In his inimitable way, Michener delivers...engrossing entertainment." —The Washington Post

"Michener has become an institution in America. You learn a lot from him." —Chicago Tribune Book World

"Michener's sense of history is remarkable." —St. Petersburg Times

"Mr. Michener is still, sentence for sentence, writer's master attention-grabber." —The New York Times

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Michener, a writer who has enjoyed enormous popular esteem, remains an elusive personality; and his memoir, though frank and open on the surface, brings us no closer to him. The book is considerably entertaining, for his storytelling skills are ever at work, from his wartime years as a young officer in the South Pacific to his service on various Washington committees, his world travels and his life as a successful writer. But it strikes one as unlikely that the reticent, unfussy, modest man he is at pains to portray could have mustered the determination and stamina to create the remarkable career he has enjoyed. Michener likes to see himself as Mr. Average, suggesting perhaps that anyone could have done what he has with what he acknowledges are only moderate gifts. But his accounts of his love of opera, painting and literature, and of the effort he made to educate himself in those arts, show him to be infinitely beyond the ordinary. His rigid standards of fiscal probity and his disdain for the limelight are also virtually unique among living authors, as is the generosity with which he has disposed of his considerable fortune to aid writers less well endowed. This is a frustrating book, then, because one wishes to know Michener better than he seems to know himself; but it will probably delight his many fans, even if it misleads them. Photos not seen by PW . (Jan.)
Library Journal
This latest Michener title explores the personal history and intellectual, political, and philosophical landscape of the prolific 84-year-old writer and storyteller--terms he prefers to author. Michener offers selected events and influences that enabled a Pennsylvania boy of unknown parentage and no monetary advantages to mature into a man who has had various mundane and adventurous occupations and has written over 30 books, published since he was 40, that have brought him fame, national honors, and enough money to fund generously a range of charitable endeavors. The 14 topically arranged chapters are by turns didactic, candid, reflective, occasionally repetitive, and usually informative--although Michener maintains his stance of not discussing certain topics (e.g., his divorces). Thus, while this book represents a refreshing change from the current crop of tell-all memoirs, a scrim often seems to separate reader from writer. Nevertheless, given the continuing popularity of Michener's works despite any adverse commentary, this book is a recommended addition to the Michener collection in any library.--V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Lib., Cheney
Michener moves backward and forward in time, writing about the many strands of his experience: his passion for travel; his lifelong infatuation with literature, music, and painting; his liberal credo and his adventures in politics; and the hard work, headaches, and rewards of the writing life. With 16 pages of photographs. Also available in a signed edition (see following entry). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
Altogether engaging if decidedly selective reminiscence from the peripatetic writer (not "author," he stresses) who's one of the world's most successful storytellers. Eschewing traditional autobiography, Michener (who turns 85 next year) looks back on his long, globe-trotting life from more than a dozen vantage points—travel, people, politics, health, wealth, etc. This idiosyncratic format permits him to comment at length on topics of his choosing and to avoid subjects he finds painful or none of a reader's business. Beyond a brief allusion, for example, there's no mention of two matrimonial failures, and little about his enduring marriage to a nisei named Mariko. He does, however, offer intriguing glimpses of his impoverished boyhood in a foster home and the steely resolve that won him scholarships and honors at Swarthmore and graduate schools. Meanwhile, Michener spins a wealth of marvelous yarns about his years as a teacher, editor (at Macmillan), WW II naval officer, omnivorous reader, itinerant lecturer, occasional show-biz advisor, and, more recently, member of government commissions. Among many other recitals, his rueful accounts of how the Post Office chooses the subjects of its postage stamps and of the travails of an unreconstructed liberal running for elective office in Bucks County, Pa.—a bastion of rock-ribbed Republicanism—stand out. The author also recalls highs and lows of a writing career that (to the dismay of many critics) saw him win a Pulitzer Prize for his first book (Tales from the South Pacific, 1947) and make frequent appearances on bestseller lists for decades thereafter. While not one to underrate his craft or accomplishments, Michener refusesto employ royalty statements to dispute the typically damning judgments of the literary establishment. Indeed, he seems content to let the reading public have the final word on his work. The guess here is that fans and foes alike will find the discontinuous, digressive, and quite delightful narrative at hand as much to their separate tastes as ever. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.) (Book-of-the-Month Split Main for January)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812550528
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 11/15/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

James A. Michener
Part travelogue, part history, part fictional adventure, James Michener's heavily researched books edify as they entertain. He began his career with the book that would become the musical South Pacific, but he ended it as one of the century's most popular -- and prolific -- novelists.


James Albert Michener is a Pulitzer prize-winning author reknowned for his historical epics. A prolific novelist and relentless researcher, Michener wrote over books. Despite his substantial commercial success, he was known to be a humble man and a was an active philanthropist. His many beloved works include Tales of the South Pacific, which was adapted for Broadway and film as South Pacific, Hawaii and The Source.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Albert Michener (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 3, 1907
    1. Date of Death:
      October 16, 1997
    2. Place of Death:
      Austin, Texas

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