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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.

©2014 James A. Michener (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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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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.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • garyyac
  • New Market, MD United States
  • 08-21-15

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Mixed Thoughts

Living in Colorado, I thought this would be a good Michener to start with. As a historical fiction piece, the things I liked about the book was the insight into the history of this native land - Indian culture, early settlers, understanding how water & the land play such a prominent role in Colorado's early survival. The things that I didn't like was the whole premise of the book: a professor who is fact-checking an article prior to publication. I think that whole premise could be edited out & it wouldn't make a difference. It also bothered me that the "fiction" side of the book was so large. An Indian or silversmith or early settler would be discussed & I would be interested enough to Google them to find out more information, only to find out that the characters are entirely fictional. Surely there were plenty of real people who lived fascinating lives that the author could have expounded upon in a fictional sense. So, in the end, I had to accept the book with a grain of salt - interesting information but not trusting where history ends & fiction begins.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Classic Michener

I don't give out 5 stars to every good book I listen to. I almost gave it to this one. My one criticism is the slow start to the book. The first hours are spent telling the story of a journalist in the 1970's researching a story on Colorado. This holds little interest or significance until he rejoins the story in the last chapter. The next section deals with the geophysical development of the land and the evolution of life. Michener tries to make some of the prehistoric animals humanlike, but learning about the thoughts of a typical dinosaur, bison, beaver, and early horse can only be so interesting. I read a newspaper article at this book's release that claimed Michener intentionally makes the beginnings of his books difficult to keep casual readers away. Maybe he succeeds.
After the slow start, watch out. You will care about the characters and will be drawn into a superb story. If you get to the tenth hour, you will not be able to stop listening.
Enjoy!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorite books.

I loved this book when I read it. We actually took a driving vacation touring the sites in the book. It was a wonderful experience.

However, this narrator destroys, annihilates. ruins the experience of this book. Why didn't they use Will Patton, Holter Graham or a dozen others? He reads in an overly enunciated, monotone voice. He reads like he is bored to death. He would-duh add-uh syllables as he was narrating-guh.

I suggest reading it if this is your first look at it.

Unfortunately, I bought The Source at the same time. The narration is worse...gahhh. I've slogged through the first half but I'm thinking of returning it.

Reading Centennial is a WONDERFUL experience. Don't let this guy ruin it.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Worst Narrator I've Ever Heard

I read many of the author's works in 70's and 80's and was quite excited when I saw they had become available on Audible. Unfortunately I neglected to listen to the audio sample; this has to be the single worst reader I've ever attempted to listen to. He drones along along in a dreadfully slow plodding monotone. The fact that he mispronounces numerous words along the way is the most exciting portion of his performance; thus a huge disservice is done to a great book. This is a work that deserved better; read it and avoid the butchering that Larry McKeever does to it.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Bill
  • NEVADA CITY, CA, United States
  • 08-24-15

Great book ruined by the narrator

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was disappointing to say the least

Any additional comments?

I have been waiting for years for this book to come out in Audio form. What a huge let down! The narration is a bitter, dismal, disappointment. The narrator, hands down, has to be the worst I have every listened to. I gave the performance one star because I had to to write this review. If I could have I would have given it minus stars. And the pronunciation of some words--- OH PLEASE. Great book though. Read it, don’t listen to it.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The story is excellent, so good I took the time to put the mini series on my computer and commenced to extract the audio from it, made tracks for each scene and copied the finished product to cd. Now I have the entire audio on my Note 4. Overall, this is mediocre version of an audio book. the reason for this is the "ugly", the performance. I give him credit for taking the time to do it, since nobody else has, but if your going to get paid to do something you should do it well. It's read with no feeling and when he's reading the quotes of the characters, he goes into this choppy, robotic tone. He sounds like I did when I was learning to read in kindergarten "see spot run". Would love for someone else to tackle this epic story!

BTW Arkansas is not that hard to pronounce correctly.

Still better than nothing, but was hoping for better than this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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fantastic story, poor narrator

Colorado is my home. So, how could I not read Centennial? The story is riveting, historically accurate. You learn to love the characters. Just wish Audible had picked a better reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rick
  • Urcuquí, Ecuador
  • 02-12-17

A great book spoiled

The welcome arrival of Michener’s epics on Audible.com is soured by the narrators, as many have noted. It’s a shame, because no one does epics like James Michener.

“Centennial” was my personal introduction to his work when it was published in 1974. So completely absorbing was the massive tome that I still recall the characters by name, though each section could easily be a separate novel in itself. This is how the West was won, starting with the dinosaurs. The grueling trek toward Oregon by Levi Zendt and his child orphan bride feels as close to the real experience as anyone could imagine. The life of Lame Beaver and the Arapahos is as brutal as it is noble. And so it continues, across the centuries, finely wrought in vivid detail.

As narrator, Larry McKeever is also a historical curiosity, from around the 1950s, when radio network announcers (all men) spoke in deep, pear-shaped tones. The plodding, icy delivery would be better suited to a medical instructional film, or maybe the voice of a GPS. It wrecks the experience of “Centennial,” although the 1.25x playback speed on the nifty Windows 10 Player made things tolerable enough to revisit some favorite sections of this unforgettable opus.

McKeever and two others read most of the Michener books, and sound much alike—from some dim past before Audible made audiobooks into so much more than the publishers’ afterthoughts they once were.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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