A stunning panorama of the West, "'Centennial" is an enthralling celebration of our country, brimming with the glory and the greatness of the American past that only bestselling author James Michener could bring to stunning life. From the Native Americans, the migrating white men and women, the cowboys, and the foreigners, it is a story of trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters--all caught up in the dramatic events and violent conflicts that shaped the destiny of our legendary West.
Michener starts with a somewhat didactic geology lesson and gamely presents us with the personal trials and tribulations of dinosaurs and early mammals, followed by.. um, beavers? Well, beavers can have rich and emotional inner lives, too. Heck, you can tell the man even did massive research into beavers. This is a very dedicated writer, folks.
Anyway, the human part of the book starts with the first inhabitants of the area, the Arapaho, and their initial encounter with whites. This portion has some of the most interesting characters, the Arapaho chief Lame Beaver and the intrepid French trader Pasqinel. These people are so colorful they must surely be based on real historical figures.
There's a particularly disturbing massacre about a third of the way through the novel (basically the Sand Creek Massacre). Sad that so little of the horrific details of this event had to be made up by the author. (Truth is often worse than any nightmare one can dream up.)
An impressive pageant of characters wander in and out the pages of this book; it'd be a slog to go through them all. You have your usual black hats and white hats, a generous amount of gray characters, and a generous sprinkling of under-developed walk on parts. It's an engrossing and informative read, not high literature, but by Michener standards pretty good.
I was sooo wrong. Wandering around the library one day, without a clue as to what I was going to read, I came across this book. Remembering that my sister was named after one of the character's in the book, I decided to give it a shot.
As always with Michener's work, if you can get past the first 100 pages or so, you're in for a real treat. The characters are so alive and realistic, you can't help but fall in love with them. And because it's a book about the many generations of a family, you get to know the whole story. Apart from the people, you get a history of the land and a gimps into the times during which they lived.
I also discovered, thanks to this book, that I enjoy Historical fiction.
This is the best-selling and most popular novel on Colorado. It is an historical novel covering the time of prehistory to 1976. The author created a well-researched epic saga weaving the lives of cowboys, farmers, miners, Native Americans, trappers, and others into the fictional town of Centennial (based on Greeley).
If you are interested in the history of the western US then this book is for you. Its got everything from dinosaurs to the indians and their their horses to the settlers and cattle ranchers. Mr. Michener creates a story filled with western lore and fascinating fictional characters.
There are maps included to keep you oriented as to where you are as Mr. Michener makes the vast praires and mountains come to life with his excellent narration. Its a wonderful story of the far west's history. Enjoy.