A Search for the Meaning of Life: James A. Michener, Youth, and Eternal Spain

  • Mark DeStephano


This article will examine James A. Michener’s Iberia as one of the finest books written during the twentieth century on Spain. During a period of over forty years, Michener made numerous trips to Spain, calling it his «second home», and, through travels to virtually every corner of the nation, aided by thousands of conversations with Spaniards from prominent to poor, Michener pieced together a fascinating collage of Spain and its people. His exhaustive research and reading, brought to bear on every page of Iberia, enabled Michener to write what is very possibly the most definitive one-volume chronicle of every aspect of Spanish civilization, from history, culture, food, music, art, philosophy, and literature, to bullfighting, festivals, politics, language, and pundonor. Finally, Iberia is a testimony to a lifelong love affair of an American who once went to Spain but whose spirit never left it, especially in the moment of his greatest personal crisis.