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South Pacific (1946)

af James A. Michener

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1,836329,075 (3.74)133
A retelling of the story of the musical "South Pacific," concerning the lives of officers, nurses, a French expatriate, and natives on the islands of the South Pacific during World War II. Includes discussion of the original Broadway production and its cast.
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Engelsk (31)  Fransk (1)  Alle sprog (32)
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I have the first edition with perfect dustcover...amazing! Quite valuable too....
  HowlandAU | Jan 19, 2023 |
With photos and commentary regarding movie of same title. ( )
  Michael_Lilly | Apr 24, 2022 |
"I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. . . . I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes, and the waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting." Thus opens James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, a beginning that could so easily be repeated at the end.

As a lifetime fan of the 1958 film South Pacific, I was wrong to think I already knew these stories. In barely more than 300 pages, Michener's 1948 Pulitzer Prize winner opens the door to understanding war from the inside. He wrote this fictionalized memoir of his World War II service while memories of his service were still fresh. A young officer, hobnobbing with the big brass, he was involved with planning and providing war supplies: cots, bandages, meals, body bags, even the construction of air strips. Just as in the film (and the Broadway musical by the same name), there are dramatic battle scenes against a backdrop of romance and humor in the hurry-up-and-wait lives of men waiting to be called to action. But what I've never seen or heard before are the behind-the-scenes plans for waging battles --- and I'm not talking about men in uniforms standing around a large table, pushing battleships around a model ocean. Planning a siege includes estimating the number of troops who will lose their lives in order to have ready sufficient supplies for things like building coffins and erecting hospital buildings, and (if the siege is long) locating a cemetery location --- everything except the names of those who will survive and those who won't. That's what stunned me. Guessing how many soldiers would be killed and how many would be wounded so that necessary staff and supplies could be made ready, so that commanding officers would have enough stationery, pens, and ink to write letters to families of the fallen. Naively, it never occurred to me that being prepared for loss of life involved so many cold-blooded mundane details. Hopefully, we're evolving into societies that find other ways to be heroic than planning the slaughter of one another. ( )
  bookcrazed | Jul 9, 2021 |
I first read this in high school, some 40 years ago. When I found myself referencing it recently in a review for another book (McKenna's "The Sand Pebbles"), I knew I had to reread it. Reading it with older eyes only enhanced the luster.

It's all here: history, anthropology, war journalism, vignettes of life and waiting and death. It's strengths are the limits Michener gives it: it's about some people on some islands in part of the South Pacific during part of World War II, and their limited hopes, fears, and experiences. It's as good a novel about war and people in war as you can find, really clearly evoking the tone, language, and culture of the 1940s. Blurbs about this book play up romance, but it's really about trying to hold on against loss, and that very loss.

As the caretaker says near the end, "Dey's only so many good men, and if you uses 'em up, where you gonna git de others?" ( )
1 stem MLShaw | Jul 5, 2021 |
fiction (wwii war with japan in the pacific; navy and marines and nurses and french plantation owners and various natives and other immigrants)

So that's what PT boats are for. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
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I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific.
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The men who would make up the difference between the expected dead and the actual dead would never know that they were the lucky ones. But all the world would be richer for their having lived.
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A retelling of the story of the musical "South Pacific," concerning the lives of officers, nurses, a French expatriate, and natives on the islands of the South Pacific during World War II. Includes discussion of the original Broadway production and its cast.

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