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Centennial: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A runaway best seller, Michener's Centennial was written as a tribute to America's bicentennial celebration. The book's 900 pages cover 136 million years. Centennial is an epic novel of the history, land, and people of Colorado. Centered around the fictional town of Centennial, the story contains an extensive cast of characters including Native Americans, French fur trappers, English noblemen, and American cowboys. Providing lively narrative against Michener's skillfully researched canvas are people like Levi and Ellie Zendt, who left the confining life of the Pennsylvania Dutch only to find terror and uncertainty on the trip west, and the Garrett family, whose yearly struggle to farm the land was met time and again with defeat. However, much of Michener's remarkable accomplishment is lost in this abridgment. Although the listener gets the main thrust of the story line, the strength and beauty of the original are lost. David Dukes's plodding narration is equally dull. Most libraries should stick with the print version.
- Gretchen Browne, Rockville Centre P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A hell of a book . . . While he fascinates and engrosses, Michener also educates.”Los Angeles Times
 
“An engrossing book . . . imaginative and intricate . . . teeming with people and giving a marvelous sense of the land.”The Plain Dealer
 
“Michener is America’s best writer, and he proves it once again in Centennial. . . . If you’re a Michener fan, this book is a must. And if you’re not a Michener fan, Centennial will make you one.”The Pittsburgh Press
 
“An absorbing work . . . Michener is a superb storyteller.”BusinessWeek
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812978420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812978421
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,441 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

452 of 464 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Parks on April 28, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
The story of the American West doesn't get any better than this!
As a middle school social studies instructor, I can say that Americana is on display in its most enticing format here! The acting is as superb as the actors are familiar! Star after star makes us forget whatever role they played on televison, and remember them for their characterization in Centennial! This is the highest compliment to a film-maker's casting director and producer!
The cast IS exceptional--especially Conrad, Chamberlain, and that old Detroit Lion lineman Alex 'Brumbaugh' Karas! Honestly, having seen this epic four times, I have often wanted to just sit right through all 20+ hours consecutively; it really does grow on you! I can never forget the 'Wendells' every time I hear 'Whispering Hope', and just watching that last half hour's flashback sequence accompanied by 'Guess He'd Rather be in Colorado' still gives me goose bumps!
I enjoyed this epic so much in fact, that while in Colorado in 1993, I tried to locate the town of Centennial. I noticed many familiar landmarks, crossed the Platte River, but of course, found no Centennial town--only the cafe.
I can only say that if one loves the history and drama of the American West and has not seen this chronicle--from Robert Conrad's trip downstream at the beginning, to David Janson's reflective retrospection by the lonely railroad tracks at the consclusion, one has NOT fully seized upon all that Hollywood can contribute to learning about our great country.
Thank you Clay Basket, Levi Zendt, Hans Brumbaugh, R.J. Poteet, Lame Beaver...though fictitious, you made learning come alive for us! And a special thanks to the production company of 'Centennial'!
"...only the rocks live forever".
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176 of 183 people found the following review helpful By JD318 on March 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
As a longtime fan of James Michener I have enjoyed many of his works but none of them has been so well represented on film as Centennial. The book was super but was erratically paced and jumped back and forth in history. The miniseries, however, is wonderful. The casting of the characters was right on in both the main and supporting roles. Robert Conrad gave his best performance as the complicated French trapper Pasquinel. Richard Chamberlain was the perfect Alexander McKeag and Gregory Harrison did a terrific job in his ability to cope with his character's aging from a inexperienced farm boy to a likable everyman to an aging hero. Michener's story explores the discovery of the west and shows us heroism and cowardice, greatness and pettiness and is a superb history lesson which everyone will enjoy. The series presents this story in the form of characters you will grow to like, admire, love, hate and remember. People I've watched the series with have shown deep emotion and cried through the depiction of the Indian massacre (actually the Sand Creek Massacre but renamed for the story). They came to admire Dennis Weaver as the cattle drive boss R.J. Poteet and the young cowboys he helped turn into men. You will see characters grow and change. You will identify with many and feel sad as they age and die. Throughout, however, you will be entertained and you will have a greater appreciation of the people who framed the American West.
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142 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Bruce W. on August 5, 2008
Format: DVD
I read Michner's 'Centennial' in 1975. I lived in Nebraska at the time.
In 1978 I was living in Boulder, CO, attending CU. I read in the paper that a casting company in Denver was looking for extras for a production of CENTENNIAL. My wife (now ex-wife) and I went down to the casting company. We met Chris who signed us on to the project. Chris was looking for Native American extras. We were both of Native American descent, my wife being full-blooded Lakota. We showed up early each morning east of Greely, CO., on location near the Platte River. We were in the story line that tells the story of Lame Beaver, an Arapaho, stealing horses from the Comanches. These were the first horses for Lame Beaver's band. One day we followed Lame Beaver, Navajo actor Ray Tracey, as we snuck up on foot on the Comanche camp, to steal horses. Lame Beaver (Ray) rides off on a pony, stampeding the Comanches horse herd, while the rest of us ran after Lame Beaver and the captured horses.
The production didn't have all the Native American extras it needed, so the next day we dressed up as Comanches and chased ourselves (yesterday we were Arapahos) away. It was great fun! Robert Conrad was great. He hung out with the extras and even did his famous battery commercial. I met Barbara Carrera...what a fox! The tipi's on the set were used for the extras to crash in or to store equipment. In one scene where a group of Indians is running along a ridge line shot from a distance; my moccasin came off and I stepped on a cactus. If you look closely, you will see one Indian hopping along on one foot...that's me. The 'Hollywood' wranglers were very racist against the Indians and were usually high on coke.
Read more ›
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By D. Mikels on April 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been fortunate enough to read several of James A. Michener's works, and CENTENNIAL is by far my favorite from this gifted author. In fact, I've read this book twice, which is no small task, given its 900-plus pages.
CENTENNIAL is about a fictitious town of the same name in Colorado. The town is not nestled in the majestic Rockies, as one might expect, but instead is located out on the vast, open, treeless, windswept plains that run down from the eastern slopes of the mountains. It is here, at the nexus of two radically diverse land masses, that Michener gives the reader a comprehensive history of the area, from the formation of the land and its rivers, to its prehistoric inhabitants, to its early settlers, to its subsequent clash of various cultures. The plains Indians, fur trappers, pioneer settlers, soldiers, ranchers, dry land and irrigation farmers, and the hearty descendents of these diverse groups--all are depicted vividly and weaved into an engrossing story by an author with a keen eye for detail.
CENTENNIAL furnishes an impressive assortment of powerful, unforgettable characters: Lame Beaver, an Arapaho chieftan; Pasquinel, a French fur trapper; pioneer Levi Zendt; trail boss R.J. Poteet; ranchers Jim and Charlotte Lloyd; and many more. Through these characters the reader is given an epic tale of the American West, a tale that is beautiful, compelling, profound, and often tragic. CENTENNIAL is higly recommended to any student of the American West, or to any lover of epic literature.
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