Who wrote this book and when?
James A. Michener published this in 1946.
Has there been a film version?
The Broadway play “South Pacific” was loosely based on stories from this book, and the television shows “McHale’s Navy” and “Gilligan’s Island” all took stories from this book.
Who are the important characters?
Since these are mainly short stories, there are very few central characters:
The Unnamed Commander – the narrator, a personification of Michener
Tony Fry – a naval officer and pilot known for always having a supply of alcohol on hand
Luther Billis – a SeaBee, burly but kind
Bill Harbison – a gentleman officer of the Navy who goes stir crazy
What’s it about?
This is a collection of stories about the South Pacific theater of World War II as told from a nameless commander’s point of view – assumed to be fictionalized stories of events the author himself experienced. They range from funny stories about the quest for alcohol, to the stories about men trying to get a glimpse of a female form, to the poignant stories of costly battles for tiny islands and airstrips.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It was Michener’s first of many award winning novels.
Do I recommend you read this book?
Yes – although I like some of Michener’s other works better.
How did it make my list?
I like Michener and it’s an award winning book.
Has it won any awards?
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948.
“It was a terrible thing. A letter from the girl you loved, passed on by the hands of dead men. Joe had seen little of death, but it frightened him vastly. It was like getting into trouble. It ruined everything.” – p 131
“But this is a letter to my wife, sir. That’s what we got married for. That’s what people get married for. So they can talk about things and … things.” – p 197
I’ve read some of Michener’s work before, but this is much different from the other titles I have under my belt. While they were essentially short stories linked together because they were all pertaining to the history of a geographic location, these were linked mainly by the people they involved all pushing towards one specific goal. Okay, now that I say that, it does sound similar. But these short stories are very separate from each other. While the characters sometimes cross over, each entry could stand alone as well.