James A. Michener: A Critical Companion


In a career writing fiction that spans more than forty years, James A. Michener has refined the art of telling an engrossing story while presenting massive amounts of factual information. His narratives are characterized by an acute sense of place and important themes such as human tolerance, the relationship between human beings and their environment, and the value of human courage and hard work. This study is the first to assess and analyze his fictional work in more than ten years and discusses his recent fiction, as well as his important historical fiction. The work features a biographical chapter, an overview of his fictional works, and close, critical readings of nine of his most noted historical novels. An opening chapter discusses his life, including his childhood, education, travels, and the path that led him to become a premier storyteller. The overview chapter examines the characteristics of his fiction and general thematic concerns and offers brief consideration of the novels not analyzed in individual chapters. The remaining nine chapters focus on individual novels: The Fires of Spring, Hawaii, Centennial, Chesapeake, The Covenant, Space, Texas, Alaska, and Miracle in Seville. Each novel is analyzed for plot structure, characterization, and thematic elements. In addition, Severson defines and applies an alternative critical perspective from which to read each novel. A complete, up-to-date bibliography of Michener's fiction and a bibliography of reviews and criticism complete the work.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1996


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