Cover image for Six days in Havana
Six days in Havana
Michener, James A. (James Albert), 1907-1997.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
144 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library F1799.H34 M5 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library F1799.H34 M5 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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James A. Michener, one of the most celebrated writers of our time, has an extraordinary talent for finding the essence of a place. His books give readers an unmistakable "you are there" feeling, whether set in the South Seas, Alaska, Afghanistan, or Poland. Six Days in Havana has the same immediacy, providing the first glimpses of a city that has been terra incognita to most North Americans for thirty years. With his associate, John Kings, Michener visited Havana during research for a novel on the Caribbean. He was only looking for a house and a sugar plantation in which to set the Cuban portion of his story, but he found much more to excite his interest. Fascinated initially by the spectacle of once-grand public buildings and ornate mansions slowly falling into ruin, Michener and Kings set out to explore all of Havana that they could see in six days. John Kings' evocative photographs and James Michener's insightful text record their impressions of Havana thirty years after the Revolution. The words and pictures beautifully complement each other, offering views of a city that many North Americans may never otherwise see. Michener and Kings visited residential districts, the downtown business and govemment zone, the old city, churches, museums, a distillery, coffee and sugar plantations in the outlying areas, LaVigÍa, the former home of Emest Hemingway and the fishing village Cojima, the setting for Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. They talked with about two hundrcd Cubans—laborers, offfice workers, Catholic religious, diplomats, and joumalists. Michener even held a no-holds-barred press conference for Cuban and foreign journalists. This is firsthand reporting of the finest kind. Michener's impressions of modern Havana open a unique window on a country that is so close and yet so inaccessible to most U.S. citizens.

Author Notes

James A. Michener, 1907 - 1997 James Albert Michener was born on February 3, 1907 in Doylestown, Pa. He earned an A.B. from Swarthmore College, an A.M. from Colorado State College of Education, and an M.A. from Harvard University. He taught for many years and was an editor for Macmillan Publishing Company. His first book, "Tales of the South Pacific," derived from Michener's service in the Pacific in World War II, won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical South Pacific, which won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Michener completed close to 40 novels. Some other epic works include "Hawaii," "Centennial," "Space," and "Caribbean." He also wrote a significant amount of nonfiction including his autobiography "The World Is My Home."

Among his many other honors, James Michener received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He was married to Patti Koon in 1935; they divorced in 1948. He married Vange Nord in 1948 (divorced 1955) and Mari Yoriko Sabusawa in 1955 (deceased 1994). He died in 1997 in Austin, Texas.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Nearing completion of his recent novel, Caribbean [BKL S 1 89], Michener was stymied by his inability to visit Cuba and truly visualize some elements of his characters' lives. With much ado--readily explained here--Michener was finally granted a six-day pass from the U.S. government. Accompanied by his assistant and photographer, John Kings, Michener toured Havana and its environs, with an eye turned toward history and Kings' camera focused on the present. This beautifully illustrated record of their whirlwind trip provides new insights into the country. --Denise Perry Donavin

Library Journal Review

While researching his latest novel, Michener stopped in Havana and what he found there struck him so that he wrote this separate volume about it. The meat of the book was gleaned from interviews with close to 200 Cubans of widely assorted backgrounds and positions, and concerns how the country has progressed after 90 years of independence from Spain and under the 30-year leadership of Castro. Kings's many photographs are a fine complement to the text. Bound to be in demand by Michener's numerous fans. Literary Guild alternate; Doubleday Book Club selection.-- MR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

John KingsJames A. MichenerJohn Kings
Havana Boundp. 7
Imagesp. 17
First Impressionsp. 26
Roaming Havanap. 43
Finding My House in El Cerrop. 69
Placid Experiencesp. 77
Coffee or Sugar?p. 85
In Havanap. 95
The Old Cityp. 102
The Gilded Agep. 109
Faded Gloryp. 116
Street Life Todayp. 125
Cubansp. 131
America in Cubap. 138

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