The Source

The Source

4.0 145
by James A. Michener

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In his signature style of grand storytelling, James Michener sweeps us back through time to the Holy Land, thousands of years ago. By exploring the lives and discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in and around an ancient city during critical periods of its existence, and traces the profound history of…  See more details below


In his signature style of grand storytelling, James Michener sweeps us back through time to the Holy Land, thousands of years ago. By exploring the lives and discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in and around an ancient city during critical periods of its existence, and traces the profound history of the Jews, including that of the early Hebrews and their persecution, the impact of Christianity on the Jewish world, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. Michener weaves his epic tale of love, strength, and faith until at last he arrives at the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. The Source is not only a compelling history of the Holy Land and its people but a richly written saga that encompasses the development of Western civilization and the great religious and cultural ideas that have shaped our world.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Fascinating . . . a wonderful rampage through history.
Boston Globe
James Michener is something rare and valuable: an honorable craftsman doing honorable work. . . . He manages to make history vivid.
San Francisco Call Bulletin
Magnificent . . . a superlative piece of writing both in scope and technique. It is, in fact, one of the great books of this generation. . . . It will hold the interest of any reader, no matter what religion he may be.
From the Publisher
“Fascinating . . . stunning . . . [a] wonderful rampage through history . . . Biblical history, as seen through the eyes of a professor who is puzzled, appalled, delighted, enriched and impoverished by the spectacle of a land where all men are archeologists.”The New York Times
“A sweeping [novel] filled with excitement—pagan ritual, the clash of armies, ancient and modern: the evolving drama of man’s faith.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Magnificent . . . a superlative piece of writing both in scope and technique . . . one of the great books of this generation.”San Francisco Call Bulletin

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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5.46(w) x 8.27(h) x 1.47(d)

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On Tuesday the freighter steamed through the Straits of Gibraltar and for five days plowed eastward through the Mediterranean, past islands and peninsulas rich in history, so that on Saturday night the steward advised Dr. Cullinane, “If you wish an early sigh of the Holy Land you must be up at dawn.” The steward was Italian and was reluctant to use the name Israel. For him, good Catholic that he was, it would always be the Holy Land.

Some time before dawn Cullinane heard a rapping on his door and went on deck while the stars were still bright, but as the moon fell away toward areas he had left, the sun began to rise over the land he was seeking, and the crown of stars that hung over Israel glimmered fitfully and faded. The shoreline became visible, mauve hills in the gray dawn, and he saw three things he knew: to the left the white Muslim mosque of Akko, in the center the golden dome of the Bahai temple, and to the right, high on a hill, the brown battlements of the Catholic Carmelites.

“Just like the Jews,” he said. “Denied religious liberty by all, they extend it to everyone.” He thought that might be a good motto for the new state, but as the freighter approached land he added, “I’d feel more like a traveler to Israel if they’d let me see one good synagogue.” But the Jewish religion was an internal thing, a system for organizing life rather than building edifices, and no Jewish religious structures were visible.

Even at the dockside his introduction to the Jewish state was postponed, for the firs man who recognized him was a genial, good-looking Arab in his late thirties, dressed nattily in westernclothes, who called from the shore in English, “Welcome! Welcome! Everything’s ready.” Two generations of British and American archaeologists had been greeted with this heartening call, either by the present Jemail Tabari or by his famous uncle, Mahmoud, who had worked on most of the historic digs in the area. Dr. Cullinane, from the Biblical Museum in Chicago, was reassured.

For many years he had dreamed of excavating one of the silent mounds in the Holy Land, perhaps even to uncover additional clues to the history of man and his gods as they interacted in this ancient land; and as he waited for the freighter to tie up he looked across the bay to Akko, that jewel of a seaport, where so much of the history he was about to probe had started. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and finally Richard the Lion Heart and his Crusaders had all come to that harbor in glorious panoply, and to follow in their footsteps was for an archaeologist like Cullinane a privilege.” I hope I do a good job,” he whispered.

Copyright 2002 by James A. Michener

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Fascinating . . . a wonderful rampage through history.”—The New York Times

“James Michener is something rare and valuable: an honorable craftsman doing honorable work. . . . He manages to make history vivid.”—The Boston Globe

“Magnificent . . . a superlative piece of writing both in scope and technique. It is, in fact, one of the great books of this generation. . . . It will hold the interest of any reader, no matter what religion he may be.”—San Francisco Call Bulletin

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The Source 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 145 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just ordered (another) copy of this memorable book. I first read it in the '60s, and it was impossible to put down. I recall myself in apron at the stove, stirring the stew with one hand, reading 'The Source' held in my other hand. One of the wonderful challenges (of many) in the book, was meeting the three modern-day archeologists in the beginning, then discovering the hypothesis that the pre-historical individual had traceable blood lines through the millennia to one of the present day excavators of the Tell. My first copy was a library book. I treasure books and treat them carefully, but I was driven to make marginal notes, so I phoned the library and asked them to let me replace it (they did LOL). Must read? It goes so far beyond that. I've always respected Michener's research combined with his ability to make me come alive with his riveting accounts, but this story of the area known today as Israel, going back to times before Abraham is, simply, outstanding.
lalizz More than 1 year ago
I first read this book more than 35 years ago in high school. A friend was reading it and he more or less dared me to read it. I borrowed his copy and vowed to read the whole thing if it took me the whole summer to do it. I was hooked from the very first, and finished in a week. It went everywhere with me--I even snuck it into Drivers' Ed! I have been hooked on historical fiction ever since. Different editions of The Source have been on my bookshelf forever and every couple of years I read it again. I have read several other Micheners, but this remains my favorite. My only regret is that he did not write a story like this about Ireland.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read during my lifetime! Michener is at the top of his form, combining current fiction with historical legend and fact. He provides a sweep of history that non-historians can relish. Although 'The Source' chronicles the history of the Jews through the lives of 20th century characters (and flashbacks through time), it is a book for all people (Christians, Muslims, Asians, Jews, agnostics, atheists), because it tells the story of individuals struggling, living and dying within an evolving cultural context. A master storyteller giving us a glimpse of eternity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that The source by James michener is an awesome book! The writing style and overall the format makes the book like a series of short stories all connected. i especially love the way that first, the reader is digging from the top of the tell to the bottom, then the reader begins to start from the bottom, and layer by layer through small artifacts go from bottom to top and learn the whole story. I think this book is great for readers in seventh grade+ and is great for Judaic book projects and just for the learning experience!
Laurel90 More than 1 year ago
I recently read and enjoyed this book for the second time. When I first read it many years ago, I had much less experience of life. I read it this time with a different perspective. Michener's research and descriptive narrative are outstanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters from Christian and Jewish backgrounds meet to discover the hidden past that has been buried at Tel Makor since the era of cave dwellers. Tel Makor was later inhabited by crusaders and travelled by caravans and traders, each group embellishing the Tel and leaving its mark. With passion, deep-rooted beliefs, and respect for history and religion, the modern characters uncover links to the past, while Michener weaves the stories of the characters from the past into the present story creating fascinating,"history" for the reader. Love and desire grow as the source is revealed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started this book 36 years ago but quickly gave up on it: it was just too long and insufficiently interesting. But recently, after reading recommendations that opined that this is Michener's best work, I forced myself to finish it. It took me about nine weeks to do so. It does get more interesting as it goes along. The story structure is interesting: while a modern day archeological dig in Israel unearths artifacts in reverse chronological order, that story is interspersed with a forward chronological story starting with primitive cave dwellers and ending in 1960s modern Israel. Each uncovered artifact turns out to have great historical meaning that the chronological part of the story provides, and the reader shares the archeologists' frustration that the real meaning behind each artifact constantly eludes the modern archeologists. Therefore this book definitely makes archeology 'come alive.' The insights into the Jewish religion, realistic insights into human nature, and authentic history are all pretty good. My sister was so influenced by this book that afterwards she wanted to learn Hebrew, go live on a kibbutz, and to take up archeology as a career, so apparently the book moved a lot of people. But all told, I personally didn't think the book was quite worth reading: it was too long for the messages and information it imparted. The description of the ancient cave dwellers was particularly naive: it was exactly what one college course taught us was the myth of the 'noble savage' living in paradise, and ignoring the reality of food shortages, tooth decay, cold weather, and other drawbacks of primitive life. The book skipped over the details of the Nazi era, to my surprise, but given the already excessive length of the book, that was fine with me. If you're interested in Jewish history, the Jewish religion, the roots of Christianity, or archeology, this book will make an impression on you. For anybody else I'd recommend skipping it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow. This book's twists, turns and surprises would amaze anyone but as a Jew having lived in Israel for 5 years, I felt a special insight and amazement at Michener's structure and knowlege. Long but not cumbersome, I didn't want it to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read such wonderful book that affected me so much. I felt like I am actually going through history and part of the whole scenario. I have encouraged MY RABBI,all my friends and family to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James A. Michener is one of the greatest historical writers of all time. All of his books contain a significant historical value and enthralling pages. The Source is not only a wonderful way to learn more about Jewish heritage, as well as learn about important events that occured from 4000 years ago in Israel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My first Michener book, this one had me gripped from start to finish, despite its length. A series of great stories that are intertwined, you can't help but feel as though you are learning as the story progresses. Based on actual historical figures and occurences, the stories are reconstructed and elaborated upon by the author in a seemless fashion that breaths life into lifeless facts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I heard the word 'historical novel', I groaned. This is going to be boring and long. My teacher must be crazy if she's assigning us this assignment. I had no choice. I read. The book surprised me. It captivated my attention most of the time. It is a series of short stories, taking place at critical periods of history in and around the ancient town of Makor. Michener takes us back thousands of year to the beginning of religion, of the Jewish faith, to the times of David, prosperity of the Greeks, the revolts against the Romans, the Crusaders, the persecutions of Jews by the Holy Inquisition of Spain, and to the fight to regain Israel by young men and women. Michener intertwines history with fiction in an artful way that captivates and holds your attention. There is a recurring theme of death and destruction throughout, but it is what makes the book suspenseful and unique. I am not of the Jewish faith, but I have gained insight into its magnificent history of struggles. You do not have to be religious or interested in history to enjoy this book. You won't even remember that it is history because it is so entrancing and appealing
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, when my teacher handed out this book, my first thought wow its big. of course i had to read it cuz it was for school, but after the first 20 pages or so it was becoming interesting, but the author (james a michener)is a little wordy. And around 150-200 the book finally starts pickin up and gets interesting. I havent finished it yet but i cant wait!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When ever i read a book by this man ,i feel like a small child curled up in a warm lap ,have a story told to me. The story is told in great detail and you can picture every scene.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's difficult to choose my favorite book of all time, I've read so many great ones...but, this one is it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a magnificent history book this was for me, one that forever linked me to loveable characters who walked with me from one generation to the next. This book played a powerful influence in teaching me about the history of the world. Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the two best books I've ever read Ilove the way this book is divided--not by chapters but, by digs. It's history that reads like a novel. Just finished my sixth reading. Ifind new things every time I reread it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly one of the best books ever written. I love this book, and I re-read it whenever I have the chance. It is truly a masterful piece. A dear friend suggested I read it for the first time a few years back. I am forever in his debt. This book is a gem, and the story of the ancients speaks to me in a way that few books do. A favorite of mine, now and forever. I could never recommend this book any higher. Everyone should read this at least once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the first time I started it, I laid it down for 5 years, but once I began to re-read, it became alive and full of wonder. take all the time you need, but read it.I'm now reading it again. thank God for such books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read, it might look intemindating because of it's size, but it's a great read. All the chapters in the book are great,and you get to learn many things that you didn't know. The ending was not a real happy one, but if you look at how the entire book is set up, the ending is appropiate
karatepen More than 1 year ago
Michener takes us with extraordinary research from the beginning of the Jewish faith and the forever struggle for Israel,through modern times.Michener knows the inner and outer process of history ,inner struggle and triumph.I learned an immense amount about the eternal Jewish struggle of survival and it was crucial for the recent trip i made to israel even though i have been there before.I saw and experienced everything with different perception and depth.I recommend this book very highly!
sharon1JT More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite Mitchner books. I've read this book four times over the years. It's an archeologist's dream. It starts out on the first level of a new dig to the very begging with all the war, hate, love, strife and hope along the way. I truly loved this book.
Melissa Miotke More than 1 year ago
This book is typical Michener; a wonderful saga that both educates and entertains
Guest More than 1 year ago
This blockbuster should be mandatory reading for all highschool students. Michener shows that mankinds relationships have not changed during the last 4000 years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Michener book, read when I was still in high school,33 yrs ago. Since then, Iv'e read it probably 6 times! The way he waeves so many characters and stories focused on one spot is incredible. It was this book that inspired me to become a writer... if only I could acheive the excellence that he has. Highly recommended! Don't let its size scare you off... you'll still wish there was more when you finish it.