Historical Tour de Force - The Best of Many Great Books About South Africa (IMO)
May 18, 2010
I love James Michener and this is probably my favorite Michener book. Like most Michener tomes, The Covenant is a historical epic that covers a country's history (in this case, South Africa's) from beginning to the time period when the book was published. There is so much information packed in the pages, I wouldn't have been surprised if Michener spent his entire life researching it, but its one of many similar books that Michener penned over the years. While I enjoy many of Michener's works, South Africa has one of the most fascinating and unique cultures of any country in the world and when being presented by a master like Michener, it makes for a particularly remarkable read. Coming in at over 1,000 pages, this is no small feat to finish, but it is amazingly entertaining and once you get past the first 50 pages or so, you will be hard pressed to put this book down. Michener has an incredible ability to tie incredibly compelling fictional characters and storylines into a historical framework that is extremely accurate. His books generally and this one, specifically, are amazing in their breadth, accuracy and entertainment value.
As an American, I was surprised at the similarities between South African history and that of American: a country of immigrants who clashed with indigeneous people, pioneers (i.e., boers) travelling across country by covered wagon, clashing with colonial powers, etc. I am a huge history fan, but the stories and characters are so compelling that I'd put this book up against the most entertaining fiction available anywhere. History has never been so enjoyable.