Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Once again James A. Michener brings history to life with this 400-year saga of America's great bay and its Eastern Shore. Following Edmund Steed and his remarkable family, who parallel the settling and forming of the nation, CHESAPEAKE sweeps readers from the unspoiled world of the Native Americans to the voyages of Captain John Smith, the Revolutionary War, and right up to modern times.

1024 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1978

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

James A. Michener

329 books2,860 followers
James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for the year's best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer; founded an MFA program now, named the Michener Center for Writers, at the University of Texas at Austin; and made substantial contributions to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, best known for its permanent collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings and a room containing Michener's own typewriter, books, and various memorabilia.

Michener's entry in Who's Who in America says he was born on Feb. 3, 1907. But he said in his 1992 memoirs that the circumstances of his birth remained cloudy and he did not know just when he was born or who his parents were.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
10,911 (43%)
4 stars
9,367 (37%)
3 stars
3,969 (15%)
2 stars
661 (2%)
1 star
188 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,032 reviews
Profile Image for Telly.
149 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2015
A friend of mine, upon moving to Baltimore, asked why the area was so eff'd up. A friend told her she should read this book. She's moved on to Denver, but we had a recent conversation about Baltimore, which is where I still reside. I posed the same question, and she gave me the answer that had been given to hear, "You should read "Chesapeake.""

Michener, I'm told by this friend, is a famed histo-geographical fictionalist, which is to say he writes stories that span centuries in a way in which a geographic location is just as important as the characters who cross it over time. In "Chesapeake," we're taken from the prehistoric Native American days up to the race riots of the 1970s. From what I gather thus far, the novel will focus on Chesapeake Bay life, mainly in Maryland and specifically on the Choptank River, one of the estuary's tributories.

I'm told that even though the characters are fictional, the timing and major points are historically accurate. Given this, my friend felt it does a indeed do a good job explaining why Baltimore, if the region, have turned out as they have.

** Update **

I've finished the book and I can't help wonder if I've done so in record time. It's indeed a labor of love- over 800 pages of details about detail. Michener leaves nothing to imagination as he attempts to intimitely describe everything from nautical industry to religion. If you enjoy this level of detail, as well as history, then this book would be perfect for you.

As a history buff, I loved it. The details were a little overwhelming. I also found that as the story moved into the 20th century, it tended to become a little less interesting. This, perhaps, is a reflection of my own interest in history; I tend to prefer learning about pre-20th century American history. Indeed, I learned more about Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay, of course, and even the Caribbean. That being said, I'm not exactly sure the book does a good job of describing why Baltimore is sort of crazy, but I'm glad she recommended it nonetheless.

When I have more time, I'd actually like to read another Michener novel, "Caribbean."
22 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2014
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. It has a strong storyline, it is gripping and yet it has at times a gentleness about it. I have read this book twice, and do not rule out a third time....a rare thing for me. I loved this.
Profile Image for Tim.
2,181 reviews212 followers
September 18, 2020
Lots of good writing here with unfortunately many historical tragic instances of discrimination, real slavery and the horrors attached to it, white supremacy and outright hatred of blacks. I'm happy to permanently delete this from my library. 4 of 10 stars
4 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2007
Don't be afraid of Michener! I've heard the rule is that you can put the book down if you're not finished in 6 months ha! I think I am 2 months in. Drink tea and read little by little. Chesapeake follows a bunch of families living on the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern shore from before pre-colonial times through....well, I'm still reading. About halfway through, I was tickled to read about a GOOSE FAMILY hahaha. HONK!
Profile Image for Mat.
520 reviews57 followers
February 15, 2012
What is Michener's best book? Now that's a tough question. It's like asking 'what was Shakespeare's masterpiece?' or even 'what's your favourite Baskin & Robbins flavour ice-cream'? To me, based on the books I have read so far, it is a toss-up between Alaska, Hawaii and this marvellous page-turner, Chesapeake.
I'll admit I really had doubts that a story which was limited to the history and area surrounding Chesapeake Bay would hold me for the 700 + pages in which Michener likes to let his narrative flow.
But my fears were soon dispelled.
Within each Michener book, you soon learn, there are so many great mini-stories and tales of various peoples and their struggles and this is no exception. Herein, there are fascinating stories about local native American tribes who lived in the area (vaguely remember some great story about a guy and his coat of feathers....) as well as the white explorers who came to settle here later. This all goes to show that not only was Michener a great writer and storyteller but he must have been a fantastic researcher as well in order to uncover this much detail.
Personally, my favourite parts of the book were the stories about the African-American slaves (can't remember their names as I read this about 7 years ago) who ended up being freed by their master.
My mother had always raved about this book when I was growing up. Now I know why. Cannot recommend this book highly enough. Michener is the man.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,507 reviews855 followers
May 27, 2020
This was an amazing piece of writing, a real achievement. In my opinion this is far better than the style of writing by Edward Rutherford, although both deal with the concept and story of one place over a long time period. I learned so much from this book. I’m excited too because Michener has written many more that I want to read and he’s a new author to me.
Profile Image for Katie.
118 reviews17 followers
July 25, 2013
There is no better way to make history digestible than by telling the story through fictional characters...dynasties, really. This was really a beautiful and telling account of American history, from the days of Native Americans to the tragedy of Watergate. The scope of the story is magnificent - from exploration, to taming the land, to revolutions, to pirates, to civil rights. One of the things that struck me was how dramatic of a change occurred between about 1890 to 1930. I was sort of disappointed in the lack of transition on Michener's part, but then I realized how dramatic the change really was during those years. There was no transition then either...things changed so quickly. This was really an insightful and pleasurable account of American history from the point of view of Marylanders on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Being on the border of the Mason-Dixon line, this is a perfect position to describe the mentalities of both Northerners and Southerners. Furthermore, the beautiful setting makes you appreciate the vast array of natural beauty that America provides. Really a great story.
Profile Image for Nick.
414 reviews6 followers
November 20, 2020
As with all the big Micheners I have read, I like the earlier chapters better than the later ones. The earlier chapters tend to deal with geology, natural history or fictional characters from earlier times. Later chapters cover political events around the time each novel was written, which date pretty quickly and make for dry reading. Still, Chesapeake was good and worth the time spent reading it.
484 reviews29 followers
April 17, 2023
This is a great book. It is a fictional story of families sebtling the mid Atlantic area of America. Trappers, Fisherman, and farmers amung them. It covers a span of four hundred years. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Antonella Imperiali.
1,132 reviews112 followers
September 11, 2019
Le mie cinque stelle vanno alle anatre, ai granchi, alle ostriche, all’airone rosso e a tutte quelle Creature che mi hanno fatto battere il cuore per l’emozione.
E alle donne: Martha, Ruth, Rosalind, Elisabeth, Rachel, Eden, Ellen e alle tante altre che sono state la spina dorsale di questa storia.
Vanno anche al capo indiano Pentaquod e alle famiglie emblema della storia: agli eleganti Steed, ai coraggiosi Paxmore e ai selvaggi Turlock, tutti portatori di difetti e pregi, ma chi non ne ha?!?
Ed ancora: a Cudjo, a Jeb e a tutti coloro che hanno lottato per liberarsi dalle catene della schiavitù.

Non sto a ricalcare le belle parole che molti hanno speso prima di me; posso solo confermarle tutte.
È un gran bel libro.
Ne consiglio la lettura, ma se avete intenzione di fare questo viaggio, prendetevela con calma perché il tragitto è lungo e va gustato: dal 1583 al 1978.
E d’altronde come potrebbe essere diversamente? Gli Stati Uniti non si sono creati da soli in uno schioccar di dita.

Ops! Qualche piccolo appunto però lo devo fare.
1: gli indiani... che fine hanno fatto? Non se ne è più parlato, da un certo punto in poi. Peccato. Soprattutto alla luce del poco che ne so.
2: la Secessione... bene l’antefatto, ma... manca la parte più bella, quella più combattuta, più aspra.

Però, a onor del vero, qui si parla di un’area limitata: della baia del Chesapeake, del Maryland, del Choptank, non di tutti gli Stati Uniti. Si tratta, in definitiva, di un esempio fra tanti.
E allora mi riprendo, e dico che tutto sommato ci può stare.

📖 GRI - GdXL luglio/settembre 2019
📚 RC 2019 - Lo scaffale traboccante
🤔 RC 2019 - Esimio sconosciuto
🌎 USA 🇺🇸: Maryland
319 reviews2 followers
October 20, 2013
Chesapeake is the rambling story of a portion of the Chesapeake Bay area from the time just before Europeans arrived until the 1970's. While the story began well, eventually it really did begin to ramble but also it skipped major moments in history (the Civil War is mentioned as an afterthought and the Civil Rights movement is mentioned as a peripheral occurrence). These lapses in historical moments are an interesting choice, considering the nearly insignificant details that are included. At one point I continued reading simply because I had put so much time into the book, it would feel like a time wasting failure to not finish.

So basically, I would rate the first half of the book higher because the character and plot development was well done and enjoyable. I cared about what was happening and could see how things were developing. The second half I would give a lower rating because it felt like Michener had pretty much given up on any meaningful development and just wanted to get to a certain page count. The stories became dull and very surface.

I haven't been turned off of Michener, but it will probably be a while before I decide to invest the time into another of his books.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
892 reviews99 followers
January 22, 2015
James Michener has a remarkable talent for introducing a setting and taking his readers on a journey, that will make one understand the area through it's history and it's people. In Chesapeake, he forms a novel around that area in Maryland that borders the Choptank River, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.

Michener begins with the natives just prior to settlement by colonial English. Through native (and later colonial) eyes, the reader gets a good feel for the bounty available in this area. He describes a beautiful natural setting with fish and fowl, berries and trees - everything capable of sustaining life. His descriptions of the land make it a valuable treasure to his characters and his readers, and this is even more poignant in later chapters of the book, when environmental concerns come into play.

Like all Michener books, there is so much history here. From 16th century Native American tribes, to immigrants arriving from across a vast ocean, we learn how each affects the land and how the land affects them. I was fascinated to learn how the different religious sects arrived to find persecution in this new land. We are always told that early settlers came to flee religious persecution, but in Chesapeake, early Quakers were flogged, stripped and sometimes chased naked out of various colonies.

Slavery and the racist attitudes that survive it's demise, also play a big role in this 1,000 + page novel. I enjoyed the stories of the African Cudjo, how he led the mutiny of his slave ship, and how he eventually became free. Michener did a good job of portraying those who profited, either directly or indirectly, from the slave trade. Their struggle with conscience versus the uncertainty of economic livelihood was well presented. And the feisty Quaker matriarch, who knew, without a doubt, that slavery was an evil that must be abolished, was a wonderful balance to the slaves and those that allowed slavery to continue.

Michener also used anthropomorphism to make the world of geese and crabs come alive in a way that helped the reader to understand the changes taking place in nature. I greatly appreciated this much more than the straightforward approach he used in other novels.

Another story line near the end included the Watergate crimes. Since this novel was first published in 1978, Michener, like all of us during that time, were surrounded by news of the break-in and subsequent hearings. With little choice in television or radio, Watergate was on every channel all the time. You couldn't get away from it. And so I appreciated even more, Michener's including it in the book. Somehow, it seemed right because it would have been a big part of the history of this area, especially given it's proximity to the nation's capital.

I have to yet to read a Michener novel that I didn't enjoy, and Chesapeake definitely rises to the top of those I have read. Fabulous book!
Profile Image for Benny.
57 reviews
July 19, 2011
I loved this book. It is my favorite by Michener. I read it the first time on a trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. If you ever visit this region, take this book along. It will make your trip a magical, spiritual experience. I read it again several years ago, and it brought back all those pleasant memories including tastes, sounds, sights, and smells. I could go for a soft-shell crab sandwich just thinking about it!
Profile Image for Laura.
6,908 reviews565 followers
July 20, 2014
Just arrived from USA through BM.

The cover of this edition, provided by Wikipedia, is the following:

This book covers the history of the North American east, mainly Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where the Choptank River flows into the Chesapeake.

By covering the historical period from 1583 to 1978, the author describes many historical facts and plenty of main characters, showing how the founders of 4 families will dominate the main plot: the Steeds, the Paxmores, the Caters and the Turlocks. Some strong and remarkable female characters play important roles into the plot.

The book is divided in 18 chapters, each one beginning with a voyage that will provide the foundation for the chapter plot and will describe a particular generation of people.

Some geographical points, such as Devon Island and the town of Patamoke , are fictional. There is an interesting link, Talbot County, which suggests an itinerary for this book.

The author also describes a large variety of central themes, such as religion, slavery, poverty, industry and politics, including the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Emancipation and the Watergate scandal.

Some typical wildlife animals are also described, starting with the deer, the Canadian Honker geese, the oysters and crabs as well.

A magnificent book and an unforgettable saga that certainly will captivate many readers. So far, this is the best book I have read by James Michener.

4* Hawaii
4* Alaska
4.5* Chesapeake
TR Tales of the South Pacific
TR Caravans
TR Sayonara
Profile Image for Roberta.
1,767 reviews293 followers
December 11, 2019
Credo di aver finalmente capito il senso di "grande romanzo americano". La baia è un'epica, un viaggio nel tempo perfettamente impaginato, a tratti lirico, mai noioso.

Subito un appunto pratico: ho adorato la divisione in capitoli autoconclusivi, mi ha permesso di spalmare la lettura su un periodo più lungo del solito. Per mesi ho potuto tornare sul Choptank a mio piacimento, una sensazione non dissimile dal "tornare alla terra" espresso dall'ultimo Steed.

Sebbene mi sia piaciuta di più la parte antica, con pirati e quaccheri e Rosalynd, sono stata stupita nel vedere che, sul finale, i discendenti si sono preoccupati anche dell'ecologia della baia, e non solo del suo sfruttamento.

Non mi dispiacerebbe se uscisse un aggiornamento, un'appendice con un'altra trentina d'anni di vita nel Chesapeake.
Profile Image for Sarah.
784 reviews21 followers
June 1, 2018
What a tome!
I finally finished it after 3 solid months of listening/reading. Truly epic tale that taught me so much about my home states of MD and VA. Stories, characters, families, themes that will stay with me. My friend Helen told us it was the book that mattered most as she settled into her new home here after arriving from England.
Profile Image for nettebuecherkiste.
516 reviews132 followers
November 25, 2020
Im Jahr 1608 landet der englische Abenteurer John Smith an der amerikanischen Nordküste in einer großen, schmalen Bucht: der Chesapeake Bay. Zu seinen Mitstreitern gehört der Katholik Edmund Steed, der vor der Verfolgung in seinem Heimatland geflohen ist. Nach anfänglichen Kämpfen mit lokalen Indianerstämmen entschließt sich Steed, auf einer Insel nahe der Mündung des Choptank zu siedeln, die er Devon nennt.

Im Nachfolgeroman von „Centennial“ verzichtet James Michener darauf, die Entwicklung der großen Bucht bis in frühere Erdzeitalter zurückzuverfolgen und lässt seine Handlung mit dem Indianer Pentaquod vor der Ankunft der englischen Siedler einsetzen. Die Urbevölkerung nimmt jedoch erheblich weniger Raum in Anspruch, als dies bei Centennial der Fall war. Es dauert nicht lange, bis der nahe Devon lebende, friedliche Indianerstamm mehr oder weniger ausgelöscht ist und nur noch dank einer Mischehe Nachfahren von ihnen in dem Buch vorkommen. In „Cheseapeake“ geht es vor allem in den ersten Teilen des Buches viel um Religion, denn nicht nur die katholische Familie Steed, sondern auch die Quäkerfamilie Paxmore gehören nicht der protestantischen Mehrheitsreligion der Kolonien an. Die Quäker werden zunächst in einigen Kolonien gar verfolgt und als Ketzer hingerichtet. Doch Devon liegt in Maryland, der einzigen katholischen Kolonie, in der andere christliche Konfessionen toleriert wurden. Interessant ist hier auch zu wissen, dass Michener selbst als Quäker erzogen wurde.

Wie in seinen anderen Büchern verfolgen wir die Geschichte der Region anhand der Nachkommen einiger früher Protagonisten. Was die Charaktere angeht, kann „Chesapeake“ nicht ganz mit „Centennial“ mithalten, es gibt zwar einige echte Sympathieträger wie Rosalind Steed, doch insgesamt konnte ich hier zu weniger Charakteren einen so guten Zugang finden. Wie mein Lesebuddy bald anmerkte, ist in „Chesapeake“ im Grunde die Bucht selbst der Hauptcharakter.

Ein wichtiges Thema, das sich durch Micheners Bücher zieht, ist die Zerstörung der Natur, die Kolonisten roden die Wälder, die Lebensgrundlage der Indianer, später setzen sie fürchterliche Jagdwaffen ein, mit denen Dutzende Wildvögel mit einem Schuss getötet werden können, sodass Enten und Gänse zeitweise völlig aus der Region verschwinden. Auch die Austernbänke in der Bay werden gnadenlos ausgebeutet. Die entsprechenden Kapitel sind dementsprechend auch solche mit unsympathischen Charakteren, den gierigen Jägern nämlich. Sogar die Folgen des Klimawandels spielen in dem Roman von 1978 schon eine Rolle.

Im Vergleich mit den Romanen Micheners, die im Westen der USA spielen, spielt in „Chesapeake“ natürlich die Sklaverei eine größere Rolle. So verfolgen wir die Entführung und Versklavung eines jungen Mannes aus der Kongoregion und seine Zeit als Sklave bei einem der Steeds und einem Sklavenschinder, der den Geist aufsässiger Sklaven auf fürchterliche Weise brechen soll. So unterhaltsam auch die ersten Kapitel über die nun als Piraten in der Karibik agierenden Turlocks, den Nachfahren eines als Straftäter deportierten Briten sind, so bitter werden sie, als sie schließlich ihre Schiffe als Sklavenschiffe betreiben.

Das letzte große Thema in dem Roman ist der Watergate-Skandal, an dem zwei von Micheners Protagonisten beteiligt sind. Hierzu, muss ich gestehen, kann ich nicht allzu viel sagen, da sich meine Kenntnisse des Skandals in Grenzen halten.

Insgesamt ist „Chesapeake“ das bisher plotmäßig am besten aufgebaute Buch, das ich von Michener gelesen habe, eine stimmige Geschichte der am frühesten durch Europäer besiedelten Region in Nordamerika. Mein Lieblingsbuch von Michener bleibt aufgrund bestimmter Charaktere und der stärkeren Rolle der Indianer „Centennial“, doch Chesapeake ist sicher ein Meisterwerk des Autors.
Profile Image for Erika Robuck.
Author 11 books1,077 followers
August 19, 2020
I'm a lifelong Maryland resident who has always lived a stone's throw from the Chesapeake, so this book resonated with me. It's a sweeping, multigenerational story of epic disfunction, but also an ode to a region and its very human people.

Michener writes with poetry about the environment, capturing with clarity and detail the rivers, lands, and wildlife of the Chesapeake. On the families, he shines an unflinching and often uncomfortable light on the inheritance of sin, exploitation, racism, and scandal that infests the generations of Steeds (well-to-do), Paxmores (middle class), Turlocks (working class), and Caters (African Americans) who settled in the lands first discovered by a lone Susquehannock.

I don't know if CHESAPEAKE would be as moving for those not from Maryland as it was for me, but I'm glad I read it and it will haunt me forever.
Profile Image for Armin.
973 reviews36 followers
November 16, 2020
Sinfonie einer Landschaft voll einzigartiger Schönheit, die Menschen sind vielleicht nicht ganz so bedeutend wie in anderen Romanen Micheners, von daher müsste ich wohl einen halben Stern abziehen, aber in Sachen Komposition und Balance klar der Gelungenste seiner historischen Romane.
Ausführliche Rezi samt Auflistung der Themen, bei denen ich Abstriche mache, ohne von der
Gesamtbewertung abzugehen, irgend wann im Verlauf der Woche oder des Monats?
Profile Image for LemonLinda.
859 reviews90 followers
August 4, 2014
What a great overview of life in the Chesapeake and Eastern Shore of Maryland from pre-colonization forward told first through the eyes of the Native Americans and then through the many generations of Steeds, the planters of Devon Island, Paxmores, the intellectual Quakers living on Peace Cliff as well as the Turlocks who intermixed with the natives and were most comfortable living and at times barely surviving in the marshes, the Caters who were direct descendants of the African, Cudjo, and the Caveneys, spunky Irish immigrants who in the scheme of things came late to the table. Michener tells the American story through the lives of the members of these families. Collectively it is a story of success and failure, loyalty and betrayal, faith and denial all mixed with hard work, war, and life in and around the waters of he Chesapeake.

It tackles some of the hardest issues that Americans have experienced since its earliest days including religious tolerance, slavery, immigration, etc. and highlights the changes of living, of loving, of working, and of worshipping in this area. Great book. It is action packed and filled to the brim with bright, interesting characters, including the area as the Chesapeake is portrayed so vividly and distinctly that it clearly becomes a main character in the book!
Profile Image for Kristie Helms.
Author 1 book8 followers
August 31, 2015
For the past 10 years, my wife and I have vacationed on the James River -- nearly across the river from Jamestown VA. It's an amazing vacation -- eating crabs, watching sunsets and the fury of storms blowing down the James River.

We usually arrive from Boston by driving down the Eastern Shore or DelMarVa peninsula. It always seems so isolated to me. A region out of time and just barely connected to the mainland of the US. This book, which I begun during what will in all likelihood be our last trip down, was a wide, sweeping look at the Chesapeake in a way I've never been able to grasp it in all of the time I've spent there.

This book was an epic -- in all of the best senses of that word. Nearly 835 pages, it took me a good 3 weeks to finish. And I don't know that I could have read it that quickly if I weren't on vacation for two of the weeks! Epic though also in that amazing rush through stories of generations that modern writers seem to have abandoned.

It was almost a pleasure to read a book, so clearly written in another time, that was grounded so solidly in plot and characters and most importantly in place. We were little burdened by the inner soul-searching that so many current writers feel we need to wade through.

Sometimes. Sometimes you just want a good solid story that resonates with a special place in your soul.

For me, this was it.
Profile Image for Anthony.
253 reviews34 followers
June 14, 2022
4.5 Stars

I still rank Centennial is my #1 (of the three) Michener books I've read, but this one comes next. I had a blast with Chesapeake. Michener is such a great writer, to perfectly describe the regions in his book and describe its history. The ending was a bit surprising!

Since I live in NJ, in the Delaware valley, the Chesapeake region is not far from where I live. In fact, I've crossed the Susquehanna River numerous times in my travels. One day, I plan to bring my kayak out there and explore some of the river as Pentaquod had in the beginning of this book. This is what goes on in my head when I read Michener's epics, I start to plan my trip to the locations mentioned in the book and sort of relive the experience first hand.
In fact, I've been down the Chesapeake once before, on a family vacation many years back. We've crossed the 17 mile bay bridge/tunnel. (Worth the nerve-racking experience!) We drove through Williamsburg VA, spent time at Busch Gardens. Took a trip to Chincoteague Island to see the wild horses. My sister and a friend visited Cherrystone for some top-notch clamming. Such a beautiful area, I would love to go back down there again one day.

So this wasn't much of a review, but more of a reflection...
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,635 followers
November 30, 2016
This is another Michener that I read forever ago. I remember wanting to walk along the Maryland shoreline and eat some of those shell-less crabs he talks about or feast on some oysters. The book talks about slavery and poverty in all their respective complexities while avoiding being melodramatic or overbearing. The characters are not as developed as one finds in Faulkner, but the breadth of the story is much larger from the Indian settlements before the arrival of white men until the 1970s when Michener penned it. I recall enjoying it very much and thing I need to read it again sometime.
Profile Image for Katie.
601 reviews28 followers
January 13, 2019
Every time I read a sweeping multi-generational family saga, I really enjoy it. I think I should read more. I love seeing how an individual fits into the larger framework of their family, and how that individual is tied to and influenced by their familial past, even as they have no idea its happening. I wish we could see ourselves and our associates in such a framework in real life. Michener focused hard on religion, race relations and environmentalism in this work, so much so, that sometimes it felt like the only purpose to the story was to serve those themes, which was okay, but probably not ideal to me in a novel. And I loved that this book is set in a place near to me, that I can picture perfectly, so that I could extra appreciate the sense of place. Even if the book did refer to the "so-called state of Delaware."
Profile Image for Megan Oldland.
35 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2019
This novel is a work of art. The amount of real historical events that occurred around the Chesapeake Bay are covered throughout the story and the fictional characters are woven into these events in a most intriguing manner.
Profile Image for Patryx.
445 reviews137 followers
July 20, 2016
Ho letto questo libro per aggiungere uno Stato alla mia sfida Viaggio negli USA, senza questa spinta non avrei mai scoperto questo bellissimo libro.
Attraverso un'accurata documentazione storica, Michener ci racconta la storia del Maryland che, insieme a Virginia e Delaware, si estende lungo la Baia di Chesapeake; la storia inizia ai primi del XVI secolo e arriva al 1978: dagli indiani Choptank al watergate, dallo schiavismo alla lotta per i diritti civili, dai quaccheri agli ecologisti. In primo piano, dunque, il Maryland ma sullo sfondo in realtà si delinea la storia degli Stati Uniti.
Le vicende sono raccontate attraverso i membri di alcune famiglie e ogni capitolo è quasi un racconto a sé stante; alcuni personaggi si imprimo nella mente del lettore (ad esempio il capo indiano Pentaquod o la quacchera Ruth Paxmore), altri appaiono meno delineati, anzi in alcuni casi sembra che lo stesso personaggio si riproponga di capitolo in capitolo nonostante siano ambientati a distanza di anni, ma quella che certamente è una debolezza del romanzo diventa un elemento quasi trascurabile se messa nella giusta ottica: i veri protagonisti non sono specifici personaggi ma tutti gli abitanti di quelle zone che hanno contribuito a costruire, nel bene e nel male, la storia dell'intera nazione.
Profile Image for Manu.
364 reviews49 followers
July 25, 2011
From 1583 to 1978 the saga moves, tracking the lives of individuals, their families, the society they live in, and most importantly the place where all of this happens. Chesapeake is as much about a way of life, as it is about the place and its people.

The book is typical Michener, and uses individual stories across generations to show the way a place and its society has evolved. Even as each generation's story is read, it is difficult to realise the passage of time, since sometimes the changes are too subtle to be noticed.

As many of the place's characteristics remain unchanged, despite human efforts, it becomes easier to acknowledge the transience of man, and the things he builds, not just boats, buildings etc, but even the constructs of the society he lives in.

The book captures the plight of the Indians who were the original inhabitants of the area, the arrival of the first conquerors, the American war of Independence, the slave trade, the American Civil War, world War 2, Watergate, some of them in the foreground, and some in the background, as the fortunes of individuals and families rise and fall.

Humans, nature, and human nature - a good mix. :)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,032 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.