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Chesapeake Hardcover – June 12, 1978

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Editorial Reviews


“Another of James Michener’s great mines of narrative, character and lore.”The Wall Street Journal
“[A] marvelous panorama of history seen in the lives of symbolic people of the ages . . . an emotionally and intellectually appealing book.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Michener’s most ambitious work of fiction in theme and scope.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Magnificently written . . . one of those rare novels that are enthusiastically passed from friend to friend.”—Associated Press --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

The central scene of Michener's historical novel is that section of Maryland's Eastern shore, hardly more than 10 miles square. To this point come the founders of families that will dominate the story.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 865 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (June 12, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394500792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394500799
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (327 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 130 people found the following review helpful By kone TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Author James A. Michener has conceived and written an epic novel about the land we now know as the Chesapeake Bay region. Using his characteristic writing style of starting at the very beginning (in this case, with the Native American Indians) and then developing the story generation after generation through his rich and interesting characters, Michener tells the complete story of the Chesapeake region. The reader learns how the white settlers from Europe displaced the natives, what animals roamed its lands or flew its skies (he has a whole chapter on Canadian Honker geese - fascinating reading by the way!), what the settlers faced when they tried to build homes and put down roots, how the American shipbuilding industry came to this region, the fight for emancipation of the negro in the Civil War, the great migration of geese and the hunters that tried to shoot them for food and sport, and so much more.

Like other Michener novels, as I was reading "Chesapeake" I thoroughly became engrossed in the story to the extent that I forsook sleeptime to enjoy hours of late-night reading. I literally could not put the book down!

Yes, the novel is long - over 1,000 pages, but it is still an absorbing page-turner. Each chapter is a mini-novel in itself and tells the story of a particular generation of people in the Chesapeake Bay development. Michener has a knack of creating and developing characters that are both interesting and believable and this is his greatest strength as a writer. The reader comes to care about these fictious charcters as though they are living breathing realities, and in a sense, the characters are "real", as Michener's painstaking research enabled him to create his charcters based on historical personages.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although it is the largest book I've read, it was one of the best! I would've finished it alot sooner, had I more time. I enjoyed learning about the struggles of the Paxmores the Steeds, the Turlocks, and most of all, the Native Americans. when I was reading it, my U.S. history class was learning the same information, and my teacher was amazed I knew so much! I also read the book for a book report, and my teacher was amazed I picked the book, as opposed to the shorter, Catcher in The Rye-like books we've been reading. Never have I learned this much history from one book, and actually kept my interest in it! I went to the Chesapeake Bay when I was little, and remembered the atmosphere that I had forgotten, almost immediately. If this is a fair example of what James Michener has written, you can count me in as a regular James reader.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I was first given Chesapeake, I thought that it would be boring. Who could cover 400 years of history and not be boring? I was so wrong! I love this book and can not wait to read it again. I became so involved with all of the families, that when someone grew old and died, I mourned their death! This author's insight into people and animals is amazing! I loved the chapter on the geese and how they were outsmarting the Turlocks! My appreciation for history has increased, as well as my vocabulary. Michener describes the scenes in the book so vividly that you feel like you are there. Do not be intimiated by the size of the book, I wish that it was longer. I is wonderful! You will not be disappointed!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Arden on June 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'd previously read Alaska by Michener and enjoyed in immensely. As a local resident of the Chesapeake Bay, I really enjoyed Michener's unparalleled chronicle of it's history told through such compelling characters. At the risk of sounding offensive to some however, I was surprised at the proportion of the book focused on slavery and Quakerism. Michener does a great job capturing the wrong of slavery, and likewise on aspects of Quakerism, but fully 75 percent or so of the book seems primarily focused on these two subjects. I would have enjoyed a more balanced view of the many other subjects that suffered such as Native American history, two wars with the British, economic development, etc.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Guillaume on November 23, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't sure where Chesapeake Bay was when I started this book. I knew it was somewhere on the east coast but didn't realize it was so geographically big. I also didn't realize so many of the big cities that I've heard of is located on or near the Chesapeake Bay. So for me this made the book quite interesting. Once again with Micheners characteristic trademark, he starts the earliest Indians. It was interesting to read that while some Indians were violent some were passive. This makes sense; it would be really hard to generalize about such a big population. Some may find the beginning of Micheners epics slow; certainly this book is no exception. But what I really like is how the last third of the book will some how reference an event or character from the previous part. The pirate aspect of the Chesapeake is interesting; but what captivates is the civil war and the statues of African Americans. We tend to forget at one time that even good people had misconceptions. Much like the Afrikaners in Micheners "The Covenant," I liked these hard working white people; I just didn't like their attitude or treatments of Blacks. The introduction of the Quakers was a bonus for me , as I am unfamiliar with there practices and beliefs. It was also an ironic twist that Michener included a Watergate plot near the end this really brought it into the modern times. So from the earliest Indians to Watergate this book should not fail to interest every reader.
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