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Tales of the South Pacific Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1984

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (September 12, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449206521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449206522
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 4.1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for James A. Michener and Tales of the South Pacific
“Truly one of the most remarkable books to come out of [World War II] . . . Michener is a born storyteller.”The New York Times
“Riveting and emotional . . . Ever since James Michener wrote Tales of the South Pacific, the dreamers among us have been searching for our own Bali Ha’i.”The Washington Post
“Atmospheric . . . [Tales of the South Pacific marks] the beginning of Michener’s long exploration of what happens when cultures connect, or fail to.”Los Angeles Times
“Few writers changed the face of American fiction as profoundly as did James Michener.”San Francisco Chronicle

From the Inside Flap

"Truly one of the most remarkable books to come out of the war. Mr. Michener is a born story-teller."
Winner of the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Enter the exotic world of the South Pacific, meet the men and women caught up in the drama of a big war. The young Marine who falls madly in love with a beautiful Tonkinese girl. Nurse Nellie and her French planter, Emile De Becque. The soldiers, sailors, and nurses playing at war and waiting for love in a tropic paradise.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This 1947 novel won a Pulitzer Prize and established Michener's reputation as a writer.
Acute Observer
I can see where people did not totally enjoy the book, maybe if you saw the play first you would love the book like I did.
H. F. Miglino
Fifty years or so ago I first read this book and have been coming back to it ever since.
Ron Baynes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The omission of this work from the academic canon is another comment on the discriminatory but hardly discriminating state of literary studies today. Michener is far more than a captivating storyteller, collector of colorful characters, painter of vivid natural imagery, and documentor of the orchestrations of world warfare. Each of the "tales" comprising his carefully-constructed epic narrative is at once thematically and stylistically related to the other smaller narratives and at the same time artistically whole in itself.

If the reader has expectations of a single-minded patriotic paean to the fighting men of the South Pacific, a close reading of the early chapter, "Mutiny," should dispel any such illusions. Here, as throughout the book, Michener uses nature and the ocean as a test, a touchstone, and a foil--exposing the folly not just of warring nations and military campaigns but of arrogant, imperialist civilizations and many of their prideful citizens. Tony Fry, his anti-authoritarian, compassionate "hero," commits a subversive act that links him with the mutineers on board the Bounty and casts the American command in the role of Bligh and Hitler! In the next story, "Cave," Fry emerges as a war-time philosopher whose meditations on courage move him to acts of selfless, Christ-like charity. In "Boar's Tooth" Fry is able to overcome his resistance to a primitive religious ritual involving pain and sacrifice as he contrasts it with the empty and self-serving practices of modern religion.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Mark Borchers on December 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To use an old cliche, this book gives the reader a sense of "being there" during the Second World War in the Pacific theater.
This is not a chronicle of the war itself. It is not a military history, although it is full of military anecdotes. It's a series of loosely connected stories of the prolonged island-hopping campaign across the Pacific, related through the personal experiences of a variety of characters. Michener's emphasis is on the individuality, humor, valor, and idiosyncrasies of the men and women who populated the bases and combat units of the Pacific campaign.
As anyone who has seen the musical "South Pacific" (based on a part of this book) knows, it includes the island natives and expatriates who happened to live in the places where the war was taking place. In reading these stories, you may come to understand why many of the armed forces veterans of the Pacific war were drawn to go back to the islands in later years.
If I were limited to one sentence, I'd say that this book is about everyday Americans doing unusual jobs in exotic places. I like it well enough that I've read it multiple times and consider it a favorite. It's a lot easier reading than many of Michener's later epics, and in my opinion it's as good as anything he's ever written and better than most.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By on June 25, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book when I was young, not long after I saw the movie "South Pacific". I didn't particularly like it because the characters were the same ones as in the movie but they didn't "fit" in the same way. After many, manyy years, I read it just the other night and loved it! It had been long enough since I saw the film that the characters could stand on their own. Mitchener wrote this soon after the war when his memories were still fresh and he displays a great deal of affection for the "typical" sailor caught thousands of miles from home. For many, they would never get home. To this American tale, he adds a lot of tropical spice: Bloody Mary, the Frenchman's Daughter, Emil De Becque himself. Mitchener shows the American fighting man as hero, coward, nice guy, louse, sacrificial, selfish, and mostly a combination of all of these traits. Although I have read many of Mitchener's books, this is still his best: young, filled with Mitchener's memories from his recently-concluded naval service during World War II. Deservedly one of the classics that came from World War II.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ellingwood VINE VOICE on August 23, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book for the first time in 2006. It is a wonderful book, very valuable in learning about daily life for American soldiers during World War II. You also learn what the South Pacific Islands were like then. I have been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand so I know what is like to have left a life behind in the United States and to live in another country. When you are signed up for a certain period of time, you always have to keep in mind that you are going back to the life you had before, but you are living a totally different kind of life now. People back home will never quite understand what you have experienced and many will not care. Most will only want to know a shallow version of that life. A person keeps most stories to themselves. I feel that Michener understood the life he wrote about in the South Pacific and was able to fictionalize many true stories. The book has insight, compassion and wit for it's protaganists. Just a wonderful book and I'm glad I read it.
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