Centennial

  • by James A. Michener
  • Narrated by Larry McKeever
  • 50 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener's magnificent saga of the West is an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America's past, the story of Colorado - the Centennial State - is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; and the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the destiny of the legendary West - and the entire country.

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What the Critics Say

"A hell of a book.... While he fascinates and engrosses, Michener also educates." (Los Angeles Times)
"An absorbing work.... Michener is a superb storyteller." (BusinessWeek)
"An engrossing book...imaginative and intricate...teeming with people and giving a marvelous sense of the land." (The Plain Dealer)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One Credit, 14 Great Books

Review 1,000!!
This is my one thousandth review. I only mention that, since when I saw this milestone coming up, I decided I wanted something I loved. I love James Michener, I love Larry McKeever and I love this book. I had listened to this before I joined audible, some six years ago and wanted to listen to it again and let people know what a great book it is. You can look at this as a long 51 hour book or as 14 books. Each chapter is as long as a book, is on a different subject or aspect and has new main characters. Some characters or their children occur throughout the book, but they are usually only the main character once.

1. THE COMMISSION--This would be a short story. It is one of the weaker parts of the book, but does show what magazines used to go through and how much they spent to publish a truthful article.
2. THE LAND--This is Michener's geology chapter. If you have read some of JM's other books, you know he usually has this chapter. In it, he explains the structure of the earth itself, talking about the mantle, core, crust, plate tectonics, mountain building, etc...
3. THE INHABITANTS--This is the animal chapter where he talks about dinosaurs, bison, beavers, horses and rattlesnakes. Here we learn that horses and camels got started in North America and left for Europe. Bison got started in Europe and a larger version came to America and dies out and then the bison we know so well migrated here.
4. THE MANY COUPS OF LAME BEAVER--We get to hear about the American Indians who lived in Colorado. The story concentrates on a poor tribe who call themselves OUR PEOPLE. NEVER TRUST A UTE.
5. THE YELLOW APRON--The fur trader and fur trapper chapter and there is a difference. A great mountain man type story.
6. THE WAGON AND THE ELEPHANT--This starts with a young Mennonite farmer in Lancaster Pa. He takes a bride and heads west in his Conestoga Wagon. A great luck at the hardships of being in a wagon train, heading for Oregon.
7. THE MASSACRE--A sad look at how the whites treated the American Indians. You have heard about the treaties we made and than broke. This goes into detail on one of them and talks about the slaughter of Indian women and children.
8. THE COWBOYS--WHEN A COWBOY SITS, NINE THINGS CAN HAPPEN AND EIGHT OR BAD. Lover of westerns will love going on this cattle drive.
9. THE HUNTERS--This features the beginning of Ranching and Farming in Colorado and goes into to detail on the slaughter of Buffalo.
10. A SMELL OF SHEEP--The beginning of irrigation, the Range Wars and a romance.
11. THE CRIME--The importance of circuses and thespians to isolated areas. Includes a story of murder.
12. CENTRAL BEET--The importance of Sugar Beets and the Japanese, Russians and Mexicans that made it happen.
13.DRYLANDS--The difficulties of farming on land that gets less than 16 inches of rain a year. Some years only 6 or 7 inches. A lot of time is dedicated to why we needed Mexicans and how they were treated by Whites.
14. November Elegy--The actual copyright of this book is 1974, not what audible listed. The chapter kind of roams all over. JM gets fairly political and those sensitive to Liberal views might not like this chapter. Pollution and gun control are talked about in detail.

Larry McKeever
I now know how other people feel when I am critical of books or narrators they love. I cut my audible book teeth on James Michener and McKeever. In the early days, the talent was sparse. I feel McKeever uses a lot infliction in his voice and don't see how others don't hear it. I don't want him to read a zombie book, but for Michener he is perfect. Michener's books are not highly emotional. He lets the facts speak for themselves. It is what he says, not how he says it. I think Larry lets JM's words speak for themselves. Listen to the sample before buying. I wrote audible several times and asked for these books, so I feel devastated that others don't love him as much as I do, much less hate him. That is what is great about following a reviewer, you can pick those who match your loves and hates.
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- Jim "The Impatient"

Typical Michener, horrendous reader

Pretty good book and completely fits with the typical Michener approach to the generational historical novel, which I think he invented and has been cribbed by lesser minds since. It's generally interesting and mildly informative. Perfect for a long trip.

Special note about this awful reader: he truly takes Michener's verbosity to new lows of plodding, robotic dullness. Really not sure how someone this insensitive to the material can have a career as a reader. Generally I can work my way through most readers and get to the heart of the material, but it was really hard with Centennial.
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- garyyac

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio