Author: James L. Haley
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Despite having covered American history multiple times in school, I knew nothing about the way Hawaii became part of the US. It turns out, it’s a fascinating story! This history begins with Captain Cook’s arrival on the islands and the state of native culture at the time. From then on, everything is conflict. There’s a struggle between different world powers to make use of Hawaii economically, a culture clash between missionaries and Hawaiians who want preserve native traditions, and several tumultuous changes in the Hawaiian government. The history ends with the annexation of Hawaii, but I’d love to learned even more about the aftermath of annexation.
Typically, I prefer books that proceed in strictly chronological order, but I actually liked that this book didn’t. The beginning gave an overview of some early Hawaiian history before diving into all the political and genealogical details, which I thought was very helpful. A cast list would have been even better, but I eventually felt as though I was able to get a handle on who everyone was. Once I got into it, I enjoyed the complex relationships and politics a lot. I also found the Hawaiian culture and the reactions of explorers to Hawaiian culture very interesting.
As you might have gathered from my summary, there was a lot of action in this book. The revolutions and the stand-offs reminded me of my favorite adventure narrative nonfiction and were my favorite parts of the book. Other parts were a bit dry and read too much like a list of facts for my taste. I suspect that having to keep track of all the many different people in the political sections were a big part of that and again, a cast list would probably have helped with this. Overall, this was a enjoyable read and I learned a lot of fun facts, but it didn’t quite blow me away the way more action-packed narrative nonfiction books have.