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The Source: A Novel Paperback – July 9, 2002

677 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Fascinating . . . stunning . . . [a] wonderful rampage through history . . . Biblical history, as seen through the eyes of a professor who is puzzled, appalled, delighted, enriched and impoverished by the spectacle of a land where all men are archeologists.”The New York Times
“A sweeping [novel] filled with excitement—pagan ritual, the clash of armies, ancient and modern: the evolving drama of man’s faith.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Magnificent . . . a superlative piece of writing both in scope and technique . . . one of the great books of this generation.”San Francisco Call Bulletin

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In his signature style of grand storytelling, James Michener sweeps us back through time to the Holy Land, thousands of years ago. By exploring the lives and discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in and around an ancient city during critical periods of its existence, and traces the profound history of the Jews, including that of the early Hebrews and their persecution, the impact of Christianity on the Jewish world, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. Michener weaves his epic tale of love, strength, and faith until at last he arrives at the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. The Source is not only a compelling history of the Holy Land and its people but a richly written saga that encompasses the development of Western civilization and the great religious and cultural ideas that have shaped our world.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375760385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375760389
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (677 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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296 of 300 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on June 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I was in my early teens, back in the days of disco, fat ties, oil crises, and gaudy leisure suits (aka, the 1970s), I remember looking through my parents' book collection for the book with the most pages. At the time, I thought that the length of a book somehow corresponded to its difficulty level, and that if I could read a 1,000+ page book, then I must be REALLY smart and also grown up! Anyway, one of the first books I decided to read, based on these sophisticated criteria, was "The Source," by James Michener. Surprisingly, I found out that the book was actually easy to read, fascinating, and highly entertaining, and I whizzed right through it (boy, did I think I was smart afte that)! I remember being completely engrossed as the centuries flew past, as conquering armies marched, as cities rose and fell, as blood flowed through the streets of Jerusalem, and as the Jews wandered through the Middle East and Europe. I also remember thinking that the Middle East had an incredible history that I needed to learn a lot more about.
Well, almost 30 years later, with a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies, with a couple of trips to the region under my belt, and with a job dealing with the Middle East, I can blame it all, at least in part, on reading "The Source" at age 12 or 13. Seriously, though, I do believe that the seed of my life-long fascination with history, international relations, politics, and the Middle East was planted when I read "The Source" as a young teenager. Actually, come to think of it, another Michener book -- Centennial -- got me fascinated in the history of the West and the American Indian, while several others made me want to learn more about South Africa, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Chesapeake region, and even outer space. So, definitely read James Michener, but be warned: you could become addicted to a lifetime of learning, travel, and adventure.
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270 of 278 people found the following review helpful By Gordon C. Duus on June 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This sweeping epic traces the fictitious history of Makor, a city in Israel, from prehistory to modern times. Starting in the 1960s, an archeological dig turns up artifacts in an ancient mound composed of the remains of successive settlements in Makor. Then, starting with the deepest, oldest artifact and moving forward in time, in successive chapters Michener chronologically describes the inhabitants (who are often descendants of characters in earlier chapters) and events in and around the city over thousands of years. In this way, he tells the fascinating story of the Jews and other local inhabitants, of Judaism and its role in the creation of Christianity and Islam, and of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
This is the first book I have read by Michener, my interest having been piqued when a friend responded to my praise of Edward Rutherfurd's "London" by describing Rutherfurd as "a poor man's Michener". My friend's point was that Rutherfurd borrowed Michener's often-used story structure for historical fiction, a structure perhaps best exemplified by "The Source". As much as I enjoyed "London", it pales in comparison to "The Source", one of the classics of the genre. I recommend it without reservation.
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314 of 337 people found the following review helpful By S. Edwards on October 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Michener and wound up getting this book from the library. About 35% of the way through I decided to get it for my Kindle and finish reading it on there. The story is awesome but when I switched to the Kindle version I discovered an amazing number of typos in the text. Within the first two pages I read there were five. I guess the publisher isn't as picky with quality control for the Kindle folks.

UPDATE: After reading to 85% of this book I came across a section that is totally missing. I know because it repeated a previous chapter. I went BACK to the library to figure out what was going on and discovered that a whole page was replaced by a previous page. Now I wonder about previous chapters where they seemed to end without resolution. I will be asking for my money back. I would be more understanding if the Kindle version were free or maybe around a dollar but to have a book cost nearly as much as the paperback be obviously unedited is ridiculous! It appears that the text was scanned using OCR and no checking was done. Frequently odd characters appear in the text such as a ? instead of a letter in the middle of a word. Pathetic!
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dickson on March 30, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Are you constantly perplexed by those "Mideast Peace Talks" that have (seemingly) been going on for 14 centuries? And still there is no peace in sight...and there never will be, of course....Well, Mr. Michener gives us a grand overview of the area. You'll find some surprises. Most notably that the Jews and Arabs used to get along pretty well. Not bosom buddies, of course, but better than they do now. But, I digress. What we have here is history and novel twined together in a fascinating way. Through the device of an archaeological dig, Michener provides personal stories of the folks who have populated the troubled region since prehistoric times. We have love, we have brutality, we have slavery, we have butchery, we have treachery, we have sieges outside the stone walls, we have a secret tunnel through the rock....and love again. It's life itself: messy but wonderful. And you get a nice history lesson along the way, making you a better conversationalist, especially at those cocktail parties in New York City. Great book. You'll like it.
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