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The Drifters: A Novel Paperback – May 5, 2015
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“A blockbuster of a book . . . full of surprise, drama, and fascination.”—Philadelphia Bulletin
“Rings with authentic detail and clearly descriptive sights and smells . . . The Drifters is to the generation gap what The Source was to Israel.”—Publishers Weekly
“[The Drifters] conveys a sense of a new time, a new generation.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Michener has slid open a window on the world of the dropout and has spared no effort to make the reader aware of this new world.”—The Salt Lake Tribune
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.
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The Drifters is a little dated because so much of it was germane to the attitudes or the late 60s. He delved into the drug and music culture from the point-of-view of the 60-something narrator hanging out with a half-dozen young adults ranging from about 17 to late-twenties. (The narrator is a businessman who travels a great deal and knew a couple of the kids incidentally early in the novel.)Despite the fact that I am of the generation of the young adults (I was born in 1950), I found some of the youthful sneering at the old generation's music a little over-the-top. Yes, we thought we had everything figured out and our music was the best and we were going to be the salvation of humanity, but it didn't quite work out that way, And I, as well as many others in my age group, did like music from the 50s and 40s. There was a section where he made the breakthrough from perceiving the young people's music as little more than noise to largely "getting" it. It was interesting to me because Michener obviously went through this in order to write it.
The biggest "take-away" from The Drifters is the travel fantasies. I don't know if all the places that were such a big deal then have retained their appeal or evolved into something quite different but they would be magnificent to travel to if they still retain the character from the time.
I know bulls still run at Pamplona and I hope that the game preserves in Mozambique haven't been destroyed. They (the characters) explore sites of historical significance and others for little reason more than the beauty or charm of the place.
I highly recommend any of the Michener "behemoths". They are usually written in *almost* stand-alone sections so, if you get fatigued, you can take a break and return later.
Because he had a career as a researcher before turning writer, Michener's books provide some of the best historical/fiction reading one could find. Once you have read one of his books, like me, you are hooked. My bucket list includes reading every book Michener has written. The only difficulty I have with Michener's books, is that they are so enjoyable that I keep rereading them. His "Centennial" I must have reread six times, likewise with "The Source," "Texas," "Hawaii," "Caribbean," "Poland," and also with "The Novel" to name just a few. My least favorite was "Tales from the South Pacific" for which he won the Nobel Prize.