The World Is My Home

The World Is My Home

by James A. Michener
     
 

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In this exceptional memoir, James Michener describes the people, events, and ideas that shaped his life. Moving backward and forward across time, he writes 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

Overview

In this exceptional memoir, James Michener describes the people, events, and ideas that shaped his life. Moving backward and forward across time, he writes 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. Here at last is the real James Michener, plainspoken, wise, and enormously sympathetic, a man who could truly say, "The world is my home."

Editorial Reviews

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
Booknews
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 (booknews.com)
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)

From the Publisher
“Michener’s own life makes one of his most engaging tales—a classic American success story.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“The Michener saga is as full of twists as any of his monumental works. . . . His output, his political interests, his patriotic service, his diligence, and the breadth of his readership are matched only by the great nineteenth-century writers whose works he devoured as he grew up—Dickens, Balzac, Mark Twain.”Chicago Tribune
 
“There are splendid yarns about [Michener’s] wartime doings in the South Pacific. There are hilarious cautionary tales about his service on government commissions. There are wonderful inside stories from the publishing business. And always there is Michener himself—analyzing his own character, assessing himself as a writer, chronicling his intellectual life, giving advice to young writers.”The Plain Dealer
 
“A sweepingly interesting life . . . Whether he’s having an epiphany over a campout in New Guinea with head-hunting cannibals or getting politically charged by the melodrama of great opera, James A. Michener’s world is a place and a time worth reading about.”The Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780449003800
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/01/1998
Edition description:
REISSUE
Pages:
519
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.97(d)

Meet the Author

James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 3, 1907
Date of Death:
October 16, 1997
Place of Death:
Austin, Texas
Education:
B.A. in English and history (summa cum laude), Swarthmore College, 1929; A.M., University of Northern Colorado, 1937.

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