Read It: James A Michener – ‘Hawaii’

A thousand-page epic that chronicles the history of the Hawaiian Islands from their volcanic eruptions up to the modern day, Michener’s classic is best known for telling the stories of all the different people that came to Hawaii, from pre-history through to the annexation of the sovereignty by the US government, Pearl Harbour and the decade following.

The story starts with the geological beginnings of the islands to the migrations of the Polynesians and subsequent arrival of the Europeans, Chinese and Japanese. Not just entertaining but highly informative, pretty much a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how modern day Hawaii came into being under dubious circumstances (the US government locked up Queen Liliuokalani and pretty much just claimed it at the end of the C19th).

Although a work of fiction, Hawaii features a range of characters based on historical figures, from the powerful fruit growing families descended from the Missionaries, Hawaiian Japanese enlisted to fight for the Allies in WW2, Chinese immigrant families and the hui’s they formed, even 1930’s Waikiki beach boys.

Rabbit Bartholomew recalls being given a copy of this book by the Aikau’s during his troubles in Hawaii in the 70’s, which helped him understand the struggles of the Hawaiian people and see the error of his previously brash ways. If you’re planning a trip to the Islands, read it.


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