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The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii Paperback – March 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0801848674 ISBN-10: 0801848679 Edition: Reprint

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The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii + War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War + Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801848679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801848674
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The First Strange Place is in the great tradition of oral history and yet it makes marvelous use of archival records—I was reminded both of Studs Terkel's sensitive ear and of Shelby Foote's sweeping vision.

(Boston Globe)

A fascinating, startling, and wise book. It will now be impossible to tell the story of the modern civil rights struggle or of the women's movement without seeking to understand the anxieties that flourished on Hawaii after Pearl Harbor.

(Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa.)

Packed with rich sources, complex ideas, and some amusing lines—and written with writers' craft as well as historians' insight—this book is an excellent example of both new and traditional history.

(Natsuki Aruga, Saitama University, Japan.)

A model of multicultural history—imaginatively researched, interpreted with discernment, and gracefully written.

(Harvard Sitkoff, University of New Hampshire)

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Customer Reviews

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Great and interesting read.
Heather
Very interesting and well written work; carefully researched with appropriate citations.
Andrew F. Bushnell
For some reason I feel really cheated.
James R. Holland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mac Simpson on January 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is the best ever done on the WWII scene in the Islands. The research is exhaustive, and the stories extremely well-told. I am a historian and author in Hawai'i--concentrating on the 19th century but well aware of the 20th--and the authors have done a great job of not only telling the stories but coming to the correct conclusions. The two chapters on Black soldiers and the sex trade are especially good.
The title refers to the idea that Hawai'i, with very different foods, traditions and most of its population Oriental and Polynesian, was the first strange place that most young servicemen ever encountered. On their way to fight Japanese, they are stationed on an island with more than a third of the population of Japanese ancestory.
If you want an insight as to the impact of suddenly tripling the population of an island, primarily with young fighting men, this is the book. It's a GREAT read, and it all happened!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Heather on March 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an avid history buff, including WWII on both fronts and I purchased this book online after visiting Hawaii on vacation. What struck my interest was several locals, elders, etc. mentioning places and things they observed during war time Hawaii. I read this book over the course of a few days and read it again, to make sure I read everything correctly. I've yet to never read or come across this information again in other literature because--- THIS BOOK DID ALL THE RESEARCH. It takes another look at what keeps our soldiers happy and the flip side of things. I listen to many audio books and I've never heard this portion in any books. Great and interesting read. I highly suggest it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on October 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
The mainland during the 1940s was mostly just white and Black, with rigid segregation and anti-miscegenation laws. Hawaii of that time had many races and they married and mingled if not freely than without as much stigma. In Hawaii, Portuguese and (European-phenotyped?) Puerto Ricans were not deemed "haole," the Hawaiian term most often used for whites. Add into the mix that far more men, as soldiers, came to the islands during the war. Add these two opposites together and there was a radical alteration of race, gender, and possibly class in Hawaii.
This book is accessible to non-academic readers without being insulting to one's intelligence. The authors use letters, military reports, local newspapers, etc. to paint a picture, from multiple perspectives about this wartime juxtaposition.
The first chapter initially talked about Hawaii, hours before Pearl Harbor's attack, generally and it made me suspicious that the work would be boring. However, the authors were really trying to ground that while sex and dancing and racism and intermarriage where going on, folk were still worried about housing and TV and what's for dinner. The chapters become more interesting as you progress through the book, so you may want to read the last chapters first.
My one critique about this book is that oftentimes interracial dynamics were scant. In the prostitution chapter, it seemed that clients and workers were only of the majority group. The chapter on sex spoke much more about same-race interactions and then only slowly moved to interracial counterparts. I am especially interested in the dynamics between people of color and the chapter on African Americans in the highly diverse Hawaii said little about how Black got along with brown, yellow, and calico.
If you are fascinated by Hawaii, diversity, intersectional analyses, how wars uproot trends, etc., then you will enjoy this book. It's quite impressive.
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By Ellwood Brown on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unusual book about WWII experience. Stories, I guarantee you won't find anywhere else. No regrets on this one. You won't put it down 'till you're finished.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Purdon on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
SUMMARY: facts and interpretation of the effects of WW2 in Hawaii
REVIEW: The authors interviewed many people, including my father, Anthony Capanna, as they wrote this account of WW2 in Hawaii. Although I think their account is quite accurate (and was grateful they depicted my father as the good/honest/moral person he is), there are parts of the book that are quite graphic as pertaining to the sleazier side of what went on after Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Factual, yes; worth reading, if you need it as a research tool; a bit jolting and base...yes. I don't recommend it for young people.
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