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The Source Paperback – 15 Aug 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 908 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; New edition edition (15 Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375760385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375760389
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bezzer on 13 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
A huge book covering the stories of many different characters. The book is episodic in nature with a story from each 'era' in the history of the area in which the archeological dig is taking place. A couple of the eras are close together, so you get an overlap of characters, but mostly they are separated by significant periods of time. In each episode, at least one character is, unknowingly, descended from the main hunter/gatherer character in the first episode - these characters always have an instinctive connection with the site. As a story-telling device it is a bit contrived but doesn't detract from the story in general.

The episodes are interspersed with the contemporary on-going story of the archeologists and others associated with the site in modern-day Israel. This means that you are pulled back and forth between historical times and today. I found this helped to break up what would otherwise have been quite a heavy read. The episodic nature also means that you get a beginning/middle/end story in a bite-size chunk which makes putting it down when you need to a lot easier.

I first read the book in the 1980's and was completely absorbed by it. I knew nothing about Jewish culture and only that 'history' which I had learnt during childhood from the Bible and, of course, the more recent events in the 20th Century. The book was an interesting introduction to Jewish culture and made me think about its origins. It was also interesting to see the parallel history of other cultures in the area, particularly Arabic, and very depressing to read of the events that occurred in 1948 when modern Israel was born.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Collier VINE VOICE on 12 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to confess I picked up my copy of The Source not from Amazon but from a tiny secondhand bookshop. It was tucked away in a musty back cellar of the shop and, being a Judeophile, I was attracted to this tome by nothing more than the golden menorah on its spine. I have to say that The Source represents one of the most impressive feats of story telling I have ever encountered, albeit by happy accident.

I was surprised to read the impressive list of James A Michener's other titles - having read The Source I was left wondering how can one man write with such authority and passion about more than a single subject - I assumed that this book alone must surely represent a life's work - it is so detailed (an extremely dense 900 pages) and meticulously researched.

The Source is essentially a story offering some insights, within an inseparable historical context, of what it means to be Jewish. I feel it left me with what I think is a grasp of what 'Jewishness' means and the history and traditions it aims to perpetuate and personalise - quite a claim I know.

The book is a series of vignettes recounting the history of the Jewish people through beautifully crafted characters whose lives were defined by their interaction with the development of Judaism. These characters span thousands of years and we see Jews and Judaism from within and from without - through the eyes of the tormentors and the tormented, the Ashkenazim of the German ghetto, the Crusaders, the Romans, Zionists, Mamelukes and Palestinians.

The central - though actually peripheral - narrative takes place at an archaeological dig at a fictitious tell lying close to the port of Akko on the ancient route from the Mediterranean to Damascus.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alan Urdaibay on 30 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
Really a series of stories using artefacts found on an archaeological dig as a theme and progressing to recent times. They are sentimental without being sloppy and possess an epic quality not found in more recent historical fiction. Though I found the earlier stories more interesting than the later ones I am pleased to have revisited the book in 2006, having first read it in the late 1960's. Michener's depiction of Stone Age life would probably be different if he were writing today - but this is hardly surprising.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy Page on 18 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
Artefacts found at archaeological site are the basis for each section, or story of 'The Source'. The items which are unearthed provide the pivot or theme around which the each story is written - these relate to the period and lifestyle of the time when the artefact would have been used, and provide a continuous account of the dig.
The Source is a book which is fascinating, absorbing and definitely hard to put down. Although it is a lengthy novel it never palls, and I regretted when I'd reached the final chapter. I was impressed by the amount of research that had gone into producing such a book.
The characters are strong, forceful and believable; relationships are explored thoroughly yet the reader is free to form their own opinion of any/each character. Of the Michener books I've read this by far my favourite and I'm re reading it again and again since it was first published in the 1960's.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Owens on 27 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great holiday read. Full of fairly accurate historical facts as well! This book got me hooked on idea of going to Israel 20 years ago and it's still good now.
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