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The Source: A Novel Paperback – July 9, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,095 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

From the Inside Flap

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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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

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 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,095 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Don't be fooled by the "Harlequin Romance"-looking cover art. Caravans is a ripping good adventure/travelogue/history lesson, with some romance thrown in for good measure.
The story is simple: An American girl who married an Afghani man is missing in Afghanistan. Her family is frantic, and a military man stationed in Afghanistan in 1946 is assigned to find out what happened to her. The story veers into some unexpected territory, and Michener delivers a TON of Historical perspective on the people and places of Afghanistan without ever making you feel like you're back in History class. (This is a VERY illuminating book to read after September 11th...)
The characters are interesting, and the book just zooms along: I finished it in no time flat. My only complaint is the map in the beginning of the book: It's printed so dark that it's totally useless.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Michener, James A., Caravans (Ballantine Books, United States, 1963). 438. 1 map. 1 Note to Reader. 0-449-21380-3.
Caravans is the story of an American woman, Ellen Jaspar, lost in Afghanistan after marrying an Afghan engineer. The novel is told through the cooperation of American officials and Afghani leaders to find the missing woman at the pressure of a U.S. Senator. Michener touches upon various aspects of Afghanistan, including women's rights, religious fanaticism, foreign perceptions, and the character of the Afghani people.
James A. Michener found his inspiration for the novel in his personal experiences and travels through Afghanistan. He in fact met many European women who struggled for freedom from the confines of their marriage and Afghanistan. Michener is extremely well-traveled in the region, and furthermore has much diplomatic expertise lending to credible portrayals of Afghani leaders and people in the novel. Hence, his portrayal of the many facets of Afghani culture and politics are credible and well-researched.
The motive of Michener in writing this novel seems unclear at times, as it's adventure-style narrative can obscure the reader's vision of it as more than just a story. Yet, there is some hint of the author's desire to enlighten the world on the deeper character of Afghanistan. Michener strives to shed light on such a perplexing people and culture, that more often than not are judged solely by the negative qualities that appear on the surface (i.e. fanatical mullahs and repressed women). And, by incorporating both Afghani and foreign perceptions of Afghani people and culture continuously throughout the novel, Michener achieves this goal.
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