Readers of James Michener have come to expect his long but highly readable books, and THE WORLD IS MY HOME: A MEMOIR is no exception. Michener takes on the formidable task of analyzing his rich life of eighty-five years, and he succeeds admirably by dividing the book into two halves. The first half (chapters 1-7) deals with the ideas and values that guided his career, while the second half (chapters 8-14) concerns the actual process of writing, researching, and editing his many best-sellers. What makes this book a pleasure to read is the sense of honesty and intimacy conveyed on every single page. The reader can fairly hear Michener speaking, and the book becomes a rather special kind of conversation, full of brilliant digressions, painful admissions, and treasured moments of insight.
Michener wore many hats and played many different roles in his lifetime. At one time or another he was orphan, hitchhiker, student, professor, political activist, sailor, diplomat, editor, government bureaucrat, and best-selling author. The focal point of these myriad activities seems to be the islands of the South Pacific, Bora Bora in particular. It was there, during his Naval service in World War II, that Michener began to hone his writing skills and powers of observation, talents that ultimately produced his first book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, which became the basis for the highly successful musical and film, SOUTH PACIFIC.
Michener is probably one of the hardest-working authors America has ever produced, writing and rewriting each one of his books three time before sending it out for publication. Always unabashedly patriotic, he nevertheless abhors any form of censorship or infringement on the rights of individuals. Readers will be moved by these high ideals and touched by the small details, like Michener’s hilarious misadventures with a middle-eastern rug merchant, the death of his pet snake, and his battle with a painful hip ailment. THE WORLD IS MY HOME is clearly required reading, not merely for dedicated fans of James Michener but also for anyone interested in the process of good writing.