The Drifters

The Drifters

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812986723
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 147,146
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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.

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.

Read an Excerpt

Youth is truth.
 
No man is so foolish as to desire war more than peace: for in peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.—Herodotus
 
The greatest coup engineered by the university in recent years had been the employment of Dr. Richard Conover, Nobel Prize winner in biology. He added much luster to the faculty, but his principal work continued to focus in Washington, where he was conducting experiments on nerve gases for the Department of Defense. This meant that he was unable to do any actual teaching at the university; his courses were handled by a series of attractive young men who were, on the average, two and one half years older than the university students, four per cent more intelligent, and six per cent better adjusted. Of course, students could sometimes catch a glimpse of Dr. Conover heading for the airport on Sunday afternoon, and this reassured them.
 
War is good business. Invest your sons.
 
The university had lost its way and everyone knew it except the Board of Regents, the alumni, the faculty and ninety per cent of the students.
 
I am a serious student. Please do not spindle, fold or staple me.
 
He was looking through all the markets to find a Christmas present for L.B.J. What he had in mind was a set of dominoes.
 
Goddammit, I wish you’d listen to my main argument. Thirty years from now the government, the banks, the important businesses, the universities and everything that counts in this world will be run by today’s humanities majors. The scientists will never run anything except laboratories, they never have, they never can. Yet in this university we spend all our time and money training scientists and we ignore the humanities people on whom the welfare and guidance of the world have always depended and will always depend. I say this is stupidity, and if the Board of Regents and the faculty aren’t smart enough to stop it, we must.
 
Better a certain peace than a hoped-for victory.—Livy
 
When they conk you on the head with their billysticks, zap them right back with superlove.
 
With men, the normal state of nature is not peace but war.—Kant
 
Political exile has been the last refuge of many noble minds. In exile Dante Alighieri wrote his finest poetry and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov forged the ideas that were to paralyze the world. It was in exile from German militarism that Carl Schurz made his scintillating contributions to American life, and in exile from Spanish reaction that Duque de Rivas wrote his notable books. A flood of exiles from Scotland founded the intellectual excellence of Canada, and daring adventurers, thrown out of their native islands, peopled the Pacific. The brilliant minds that conceived the atomic bomb for the United States were principally Jewish exiles kicked out of Nazi Germany. For three centuries the United States profited from the political exiles who fled to our protection. It took the politicians of this generation to launch a reverse flow.
 
Never pick up a girl before one o’clock in the afternoon. If she’s so beautiful, what’s she doing out of bed before noon?
 
If a young man, no matter how insecure, can’t make it with the girls in Torremolinos, he had better resign from the human race.
 
Zeus picked up Ganymede at the Wilted Swan.
 
 
 
On his twentieth birthday Joe faced a problem of such complexity that he had to ask for help, and in this way he met Mrs. Rubin.
 
His confusion had started two years earlier, when against his will he registered for the draft. He told the other fellows in high school, in the awkward sentences that characterized his attempts at communication, “How does that grab you? Can’t order a beer but can go to war.”
 
He had always been tall for his age, rangy rather than compact, and in the style of his group, had begun to wear his hair rather long at the sides, noticeably so in the back. He had not been good enough in athletics to attract the attention of any college or sufficiently intellectual to win an academic scholarship. About the only thing he had to show after graduating from high school was a wallet-sized piece of white cardboard attesting to the fact that he had registered for the draft and been automatically classified 1-A; his real classification would come later, after he was called for his physical. Upon entering the university he had been required to show his draft card, and the professor in charge seemed gratified that he had one.
 
On his nineteenth birthday he received an official letter which scared the hell out of him. It was from his draft board and was waiting for him when he got back from chemistry. For ten agonizing minutes he had been afraid to open it. “I’m not scared of war,” he assured his roommate, a sallow-faced philosophy major from Nevada, “and I’m not a conscientious objector, but Vietnam bugs me. Jesus, I don’t want to crawl through rice paddies.”
 
When he finally opened the letter he found nothing but a mimeographed statement: “In view of your enrollment in the university, you are classified 2-S, which you will keep until you graduate. However, you must inform this board of any change in your educational status.” A new card was enclosed, which he had to show to college officials and bartenders.
 
Even though he had managed good grades as a freshman, his sophomore year was proving difficult. The university he had chosen was no brain-train like Berkeley nor a mod-squad like Stanford; it was one of the numerous solid institutions that dotted California and accounted for that state’s superiority in so many fields; where a state like Pennsylvania provided a college education for thirty-one percent of its high school graduates, California educated seventy-three, and this difference had to tell. Joe held his own with the competition, drawing down grades that kept him in college and out of the draft.
 
“It was this latter that engendered his moral crisis. Four ugly events accumulated in a short period of time. They haunted him, could not be dismissed; of itself, each was trivial, a thing young men would have been able to dismiss ten years ago. Now, in the autumn of 1968, they coalesced to form a dreadful incubus.
 
The first event was accidental. His roommate, who got almost straight As and had done so throughout high school, was visited one day by an older boy named Karl, who had graduated the previous year. He was a big, able fellow who dropped by the room and lounged on the bed with a beer can. “No matter what they tell you,” he pontificated, “take three education courses. The wise guys laughed when I dropped out of pre-law and took Elementary Ed…Diaper Changing III, they called it. All right, they’re in Vietnam. I’m salted away in an elementary school in Anaheim. I’m safe from the draft for the duration.” He lolled back against the pillows, swigged his beer, and repeated his admonition, “Take education.”
 
“How do you find teaching?” Joe asked.
 
“Who gives a goddamn? You report in the morning. The kids are raising hell. You keep them from tearing the place apart. You go home at night.”
 
“What do you teach them?”
 
“Nothing.”
 
“Won’t you get fired?”
 
“I’m big. The kids are afraid of me. So I keep reasonable order. The principal is so grateful for one quiet room he don’t give a damn if I teach ’em anything or not.”
 
“Sounds pretty awful,” Joe said.
 
“I’m out of the draft,” the teacher said.
 
Later, Joe’s roommate dragged him along on a visit to the elementary school to see if the principal might have a job for them when they graduated, and they watched children, many of them black, roaring up and down the halls. The principal was a kindly man, about forty, with falling hair. “Your friend is one of the best teachers we have,” he said enthusiastically. “If you qualify for the California certificate, we would be most pleased to add you to our staff.”
 
“The second experience was disgusting. One night their door burst open with a bang and Eddie, a burly football player good enough to hold down a scholarship but not quite good enough for the first team, rushed in to announce with obvious triumph, “By God, I finally got her pregnant! We’re gonna get married next week.”
 
“Maud?”
 
“Yep. She saw the doctor and it’s official. Morning after the wedding I go back to my draft board and pick up that good old 3-A classification…and I’m home free.”
 
Other students came in to congratulate him, and he said expansively, “Maud and I studied the rhythm system till we had it pinpointed. During the period when she could be knocked up we screwed three, four times a day. You remember how I fell down in the Oregon game? Hell, I was so weary I couldn’t stand up. I screwed her twice that morning. Coach gave me all hell, but I think that was the morning I rammed it home. Anyway, she’s pregnant and I’m out of the draft.
 
One of the men asked, “You think your 3-A classification will hold?”
 
“It’s the sure one. All you guys ought to get married. Lots of girls over there would be glad to shack up with you. Screw ’em to death. Get ’em pregnant. Tell the government to go to hell.”

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The Drifters 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For anyone wanting to understand life in the counter culture world during the Viet Nam conflict this is a must read . The discriptions of the locations and the attitudes of the characters are incredible . I know because I spent two and a half years in Europe during that time . This is by far the best book written of that time period .
Guest More than 1 year ago
James A Michener goes to many places in this book and has a wide variety of characters to get interested in.Michener describes how the draft dodgers of the 60's were compared to the underground railroad.He tells much about different lands,cultures and events throughout europe.He covers everything from drugs, to wealthy women , to airplane mechanics who all develope a friendship in their travels, and Michener deffinatly keeps it interesting by switching up who is actually narrorating the story.'The Drifters' is a great book to get into, even though it seems like a huge book at first, but as soon as you start reading you are never bored with the actions taking place in the drifters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This an awesome book. Michener did a fantastic job writing this book. If you like adventure you should definitely read this one. It's also great for young adults or college students. With every new character introduced it brings the book more alive. Each new character brings the story together. Each adventure they take makes you want to be there with them. With each turn of the page, the excitement builds. If you want to read a book and live it read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After nearly two decades of non-reading, I have rediscovered Michener. I originally read this novel in 1980 (or was it '79?). I was a sailor aboard a submarine going to the Mediterranean. This book influenced my life --- I bought a backpack and did a quick two-week jaunt around parts of Europe. Two years later; when getting out of the Navy, I bought my own ticket to Europe, and backpacked for a month. This book truly opened up some new and awesome experiences for me. I am indebted to Mr Michener for that. I truly enjoy his storytelling 'style' and the way he weaves his made-up characters into historical times and settings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was unsure about this book because I grew up after the time period. However, Michener came through again. Six 'lost' young people in 1969 come together. They all have their problems and their own identity questions. Michener gives us plenty of reasons why we should and should not care about these people. This book is not thematic in approach (like The Source and Chesapeake). Still, Michener reminds us that throughout history young people have had trouble realizing who they are and what they stand for. A bit slow at first as Michener brings his characters together. In the end I did not want to put this book down and I never wanted to finish this book because it was too good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lived the years in which this book was written. I so enjoyed the story. Obviously there was a lot of research done by Mr. Michener on the book before it was written. The books are long but well written. There is history within the storyline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. James Michener does an incredible job. The charactar development and the story itself is fascinating. This book makes me want to pack my bags and go on an adventure. I would reccommend this book to anyone who likes adventure.
Siobhon on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I first read this book when I was 14, in the 70's and I love it even though I cried at the end.(I cried at the end because it was THE END) Gretchen, Joe, Cato, Britta, Yigal and even Monica were my friends, I loved them and hated them, I wanted to be there with them, one of them....and then the book ended and my friends were gone.I started reading it again twice more but never finished...I know the end, I know my friends will be gone, and...times have changed, eh. BUT this book sits taped together on my bookshelf, although I'll never read it again, because when I was 14 this book moved me in such a way that no other book had done before.If you are a child of the 60's and/or the 70's I highly recommend reading this book.
Iudita on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I liked this book because I thought it really captured the essence of the time.
santhony on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Didn't much care for this Michener effort. Not the typical Michener historical fiction novel.
jpsnow on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Different from the model of his other works I've read, what I like is that it really gave a balanced, in-depth portrayal of a generation before me (or more properly, the extreme members of it). The aging narrator also gave some personal insight into Michener.
rampaginglibrarian on LibraryThing 5 months ago
James Michener does hippies--in a nutshell. I wanted to love this book~it being Michener~me being a born again, wannabe hippy. Michener wasn't a hippy though.
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Babysoft More than 1 year ago
Spellbound.  Hated when it was over.  Have always wanted to travel to Toremollinoes, Spain since reading this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A great novel for any Michener fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Drifters is a very interesting tell of six people that meet up, and go on an adventure. For myself I really didn't like the book too much, because I would get lost during the book. Then I would understand later on in the book. When following the six characters I would get mixed up, and just confused, so I didn't enjoy reading this book. On the otherhand, the book is an interesting tell of these six character. The book is long, and can go on for something of less importance along the way. I would recommended this book to someone who enjoys adventure, and a complex book dealing with many people and situations to keep track of.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Drifters is an awesome journey of a group a kids who 'find' themselves by running away from home. For the most part I enjoyed the book. I learned a lot about the precious time of the late sixties that I never knew of before. I recommened this book to anyone who wants a free trip to Europe. This book however is long and can wander around a little. But for the most part it is an awesome book and I would personally recommend it to anyone who is the mood for adventure, and history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for somebody who enjoys reading about adventures. It follows 7 people on journies through Europe and Africa. It has a great story line and evaluates key issues of the 1960's and 70's. If anyone is looking for a book that has actual issues mixed with adventure and struggle, this is the book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book, very adventurous. This book is about seven people who roam around the world. They are kept up in dreams, pleasure, and drugs. I recommend this book to everyone. This book is exciting and keeps you interested throughout the whole story with all the different characters and their different personalities. The story is so alive. You would never know that it is non-fiction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The drifter was a good book i thought it was a little long and drawn out ,but for the most if you like a book where you can get to know your character before the journey start it a great read ,and if you like to learn about other places and different time periods of this world. The best part for me was it was about young adult like my self.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like this book becuase it thought me a lot of things about life especialy about kids who run away from the draft. I did not know it was people who was out in the wourl that would help you run away from the draft. Also I lke this book because it show how teenegers can go to Spain and live their lives and enjoy their life also.