Michener wrote Centennial in 1974, and I consider it to be one of my favorite books. Ever. I was about eight when I discovered the television mini-series in my grandfather’s basement, and upon watching the whole series over Christmas break, I borrowed my dad’s 1,086 paged, paperback copy that he purchased for $2.95 and proceeded to
read skim for my favorite parts. I didn’t actually read the whole book until I was about thirteen or fourteen. Regardless, I was hooked on Centennial. That poor paperback copy is battered and worn; the mini-series DVD box set sits proudly on my bookshelf at school.
The historic details, interweaving of plots, and lifelike characters are a collective thing of beauty I have yet to find in another novel. I do think the first two chapters are hard to slog through, but once you get past all the stuff about plate-tectonics and the formation of the Rocky Mountains, the characters will quickly pull you in. From French and Scottish trappers to Native Americans to Mennonites moving west to German potato farmers and cowboys driving cattle to the open plains of Colorado, Michener takes you through the Colorado area’s history by following several families through several generations. These families pull me in again and again, and I often mind myself thinking about them long after I’ve turned the final page.
At 1,086 pages Centennial is quite possibly the longest book I have ever read and can appear quite a bit daunting, but I strongly urge you not to pass it up as the novel unfolds to be a beautifully written tale.
- Michener, James A. Centennial. Robbinsdale, Minn.: Fawcett Books, 1982. First published 1974. 1086 pgs. ISBN: 9780449234945. Source: Gift.