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Michener, James Albert (1907 - 1997)
"I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril."

--James Michener

James Albert Michener was the American author of such books as Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. The majority of his over 40 titles are sweeping sagas covering the lives of many generations in a particular geographic locale and incorporate historical facts into the story as well. His non-fiction works include the 1992 memoir The World is My Home and Sports in America.

Michener wrote that he did not know who his parents were or exactly when and where he was born. He was raised by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and some have argued that Mabel was in fact his biological mother. He graduated with highest honors from Swarthmore College, where he played basketball, in 1929. He later attended the Colorado State Teachers College, earned his master's degree, then taught there for several years.

He also taught at Harvard University. His writing career began during World War II, during which, as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, he was assigned to the South Pacific Ocean as a naval historian. His notes and impressions were later turned into Tales of the South Pacific, his first book, which was the basis for the Broadway and film musical South Pacific.

Michener met his wife Mari Yoriko Sabusawa at a luncheon in Chicago, and his novel Sayonara is pseudoautobiographical. On January 10, 1977, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald R. Ford. In his final years, he lived in Austin, Texas, and was a prominent celebrity fan of the Texas Longhorns women's basketball team.


"I kept careful record of the impact of religion on the election in my county. The religious issue permeated every meeting I conducted. It influenced Republicans and Democrats alike. Ministers preached politics publicly and churches distributed the most vicious electioneering materials. Practically no one I met escaped the pressure of this overriding problem and both parties were ultimately forced to make their major calculations with the religious question a foremost consideration."

"Religious hatreds ought not to be propagated at all, but certainly not on a tax-exempt basis."

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