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Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4, 2012: Great Historical Fiction, Part 4


[Fourth in the week’s series on great American historical fiction! Nominations, feedback, and other responses very welcome as always!]
Today’s nominee for an amazing American historical novel is James Michener’s

Hawaii (1959).

It’s fair to say, using the categories for which I argued in Tuesday’s post, that Michener’s best-selling historical epics are more period fiction than historical fiction—he’s certainly most interested in human experiences and relationships, rather than in thorny questions of American history per se. But on the other hand, his novels are multi­-period, tracing centuries of community and identity in each of his focal places, and that makes them both unique and in and of themselves historically grounded (and researched) in every effective ways. Most any of those epics could have been my focus here, but Hawaii was really his first in this category, and exemplifies his talents and successes for sure.
Final nominee tomorrow,
Ben
PS. You know the question!
5/4 Memory Day nominees: A tie between two pioneering 19th century American thinkers and writers, both born in 1796: Horace Mann, considered “The Father of American Public Education” for his innovative and seminal ideas about public education, teacher training, and other key educational questions; and William H. Prescott, considered the first scientifically analytical American historian and one of the most significant pioneers in writing the history of the Americas.

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