James Michener Essays

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It is the most exotic place with the most exotic people in North America, but making every Texan as a most honest, least scrupulous, or add-your-own-superlative adjective variation on John Wayne just isn't real.

Otto Mc Nab, the Mexican-killingest, honestest, independentest, good-community-manest Texas Ranger is almost so absurd that the book becomes humor rather than drama.

I can get a person, with moderate interest in what I am writing about, and if she or he will stay with me for the first one hundred pages, which are very difficult, and I make them difficult, he will be hooked.

He will want to know what's happening on the next story and the next story and the next.

But most of the time (in between the occassional Indian raids, Mexican Wars, American Wars, and lynchings) Texans were tackling the element that formed them--the vast, wealthy space called Texas.

The land theme, however, lacks entertainment value--aneedotes about rugged Texans replacing fence posts does not make good novel material.But even though Texas gives 1096 pages of historically correct facts, it doesn't give a real feeling for the state.It is very easy to read Texas, know every minute detail about the state, think you have a feel for its wide open spaces and larger-than-life characters, and really not know much at all.Michener, however, didn't bother to treat them with sensitive, accurate portrayals.He wrote about them what people generally thought about them.But these features hide the equally Texan and equally historically important characteristics which lie below the bluster and Hollywood romance that make this novel entertaining.Texans were the violent Comanche and Mexican killers that Michener made his out to be.Some of the best parts of the book are the scenes that told the truth about these historical figures.Michener's portrayal of Sam Houston, who was Governor of Tennessee, fled in a scandal, and went on to become President of the Republic of Texas and Senator from the state, will probably go into American folklore.So Michener sacrifices real education on his subject for stereotyped adventure.MICHENER'S CHARACTERS make Texas out to be a Hollywood production.


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