October 28, 2006 at 3:39 am | Posted in Books, Globalization, History, USA | Leave a comment





Tales of the South Pacific

Tales of the South Pacific

Tales of the South Pacific is a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories written by James A. Michener in 1946 [based upon his observations while stationed as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides islands.

The stories about World War II in and surrounding the Pacific Islands Coral Sea are inter-connected by recurring characters and several loose plot lines (the Solomon Islands campaign and a fictitious amphibious invasion) but focus on interactions between Americans and a variety of colonial, immigrant and native characters. The musical play
South Pacific (which opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949), by Rodgers and Hammerstein, was based on these stories.

James A. Michener

February 3, 1907October 16, 1997

James Albert Michener (February 3,
1907October 16, 1997) was the American author of such books as Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source,
The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. The majority of his over 40 titles are sweeping sagas covering the lives of many generations in a particular geographic locale and incorporate historical facts into the story as well. His non-fiction works include the 1992 memoir The World is My Home and Sports in America.

Michener wrote that he did not know who his parents were or exactly when and where he was born. He was raised by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Some people later argued that Mabel was in fact his biological mother but he refused to talk about that. He graduated with highest honors from Swarthmore College, where he played basketball, in 1929. He later attended the Colorado State Teachers College (in Greeley, Colorado), earned his master’s degree, then taught there for several years. He also taught at Harvard University. His writing career began during World War II, during which, as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, he was assigned to the South Pacific Ocean as a naval historian. His notes and impressions were later turned into Tales of the South Pacific, his first book, which was the basis for the Broadway and film musical South Pacific. It was published when he was 40. In the late 1950s, Michener began working as a roving editor for Readers Guide. He gave up that work in 1970.

Michener was a very popular writer during his life-time and his novels sold an
estimated 75 million copies worldwide [1]. His novel Hawaii (published in 1959)
was based on extensive historical research. Nearly all his subsequent novels were based on detailed historical, cultural, even geological research.

He was married three times. His second wife was Vange Nord (married in 1948). Michener met his third wife Mari Yoriko Sabusawa at a luncheon in Chicago and
they were married in 1955 (the same year as his divorce from Ms. Nord). His novel Sayonara is pseudo-autobiographical.
He had no children. He gave away a great deal of the money he earned. He contributed more than $100 million to universities, libraries, museums, and other charitable causes.

On January 10, 1977, he was
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
by Gerald R. Ford.

In 1996, State House Press published “James A. Michener:
A Bibliography” compiled by David A. Groseclose. It contains over 2,500 entries from 1923 to 1995 including magazine articles, forewords, books, and other works.

In his final years, he lived in Austin, Texas, and,
aside from being a prominent celebrity fan of the Texas Longhorns women’s basketball team, he founded an MFA program now named the Michener Center for Writers. In October 1997, Michener ended his daily dialysis treatment and as a result he died not long after. He was 90 years old.

Books/Works by James A. Michener

  • A Century of Sonnets
  • (1997)

  • About Centennial
  • : Some Notes on the Novel (1978)

    Alaska (1988)

    The Bridge at Andau

    The Bridges at

    Caravans (1963)




  • Collectors, Forgers – And A Writer: A Memoir
  • (1983)

    The Covenant

  • Creatures of the Kingdom
  • (1993)

    The Drifters

  • The Eagle and The Raven
  • (1990)

  • The Fires of Spring]]
  • (1949), semi-autobiographical

  • The Floating World
  • (1954)

  • The Future of the Social Studies (“The Problem of the Social Studies”)

  • (1939) Editor

    Hawaii (1959)

    Iberia (1968)

    Journey (1989)

  • Kent State: What Happened and Why
  • (1971)

    Legacy (1987)

  • Literary Reflections
  • (1993)

    Mexico (1992)

  • Miracle in Seville
  • (1995)

  • My Lost Mexico
  • (1992)

  • The Novel
  • (1991)

  • Pilgrimage: A Memoir of Poland and Rome
  • (1990)

    Poland (1983)

  • Presidential Lottery
  • (1969)

  • The Quality of Life
  • (1970)

  • Rascals in Paradise
  • (1957)

    Recessional (1994)

  • Report of the Country Chairman
  • (1961)

  • Return to Paradise
  • (1951)

  • Sayonara (1954)
  • Six Days in Havana
  • (1989)

  • The Source
  • Space (1982)
  • Sports in America
  • (1976)

  • Tales of the
    South Pacific
  • Texas (1985)
  • This Noble Land
  • (1996)

  • Ventures in Editing

  • The Voice of Asia
  • (1951)

  • William Penn
  • (1994)

  • The World is My Home
  • (1992)

  • Years of Infamy
  • See also

    List of bestselling novels in
    the United States

    major movies developed from Michener books

    Edward Rutherford


  • “I am right now in the middle of a difficult writing project. And it’s just as difficult now as when I started. But when I get up in the morning I am really qualified to say, ‘Well, Jim, it isn’t going too well, but there is nobody on the block who is better able to wrestle with it than you are, so lets get on with it.”
  • “I think young people ought to seek that experience that is going to knock them off center.”
  • “I had been educated with free scholarships. I went to nine different universities,
    always at public expense, and when you have that experience, you are almost obligated to
    give it back. It’s as simple as that.”
  • “I decided (after listening to a “talk radio” commentator who abused,
    vilified, and scorned every noble cause to which I had devoted my entire life that) I was
    both a humanist and a liberal,
    each of the most dangerous and vilified type. I am a humanist because I think humanity
    can, with constant moral guidance, create a reasonably decent society. I am terrified of
    restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to
    any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. I do not believe that pure reason can solve the perceptual problems unless it is modified by poetry and art and social vision. So I am a humanist. And if you want to charge me with being the most virulent kind—a secular humanist—I accept the accusation.”—Interview, Parade magazine, November 24, 1991.
  • External links

    Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: James A. Michener

    books with covers

  • Academy of Achievement Profile http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mic0pro-1
  • Academy of Achievement Biography http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mic0bio-1
  • Academy of Achievement Interview http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mic0int-1
  • Academy of Achievement Photo Gallery http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mic0gal-1
  • James A. Michener Library at
    the University of Northern Colorado

    James A.
    Michener Society

    James A. Michener
    Special Collection: David A. Groseclose

    James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA

    Center for Writers

    audio interview with James Michener
    by Don Swaim


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