“Centennial” by James A. Michener

Fawcett Crest, 1983

As you can see, it’s been several weeks since I’ve written as I’ve spent the entire time reading this tome. There’s no other word to describe having 1038 pages in a book, but by using the word “tome.”

I found this classic book on the 11th/12th grade summer reading list of my local town’s high school reading list and, while reading it especially the first 128 pages, felt bad for these students. It felt like I was wading through the most boring and wordy book of my life during those first 128 pages, and I wondered how it could possibly keep the interest of students aged 17 and 18 when it was all I could do to keep my eyes open reading it.

Michener spent page after page making readers learn about the history and origin of the Earth, as he saw it, complete with scientific explanations for each type of rock and volcanic explosion that formed the Earth. From there, he proceeded to give us descriptions of each life form and animal that once roamed the Earth. To me this was all much too tedious, and made reading this take so long because there was only so much I could stomach before falling asleep of boredom.

However, once the first 128 pages were dispersed with, “Centennial” became a whole different story – literally. Michener used both fiction and non-fiction aspects of history to write his saga about the settling of the West, namely Colorado. With each chapter designated to tell the story of the West from a different point of view (Indians, Cowboys, Ranchers, etc.), readers learned more about the settling of the West than they’d ever learn from a history book.¬†Several generations of the same family from each of these types of narrators were traced from the beginning of time all the way to Michener’s era of the 1970’s. This lent a great continuity to the book.

To sum it up, I felt like this was a good historical read, and learned much about history from reading it. However, it was much too long.

So, I leave the decision of “Should I Read It or Not?” up to you adults and high schoolers.


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