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Hawaii Paperback – July 9, 2002
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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“One novel you must not miss! A tremendous work from every point of view—thrilling, exciting, lusty, vivid, stupendous.”—Chicago Tribune
“From Michener’s devotion to the islands, he has written a monumental chronicle of Hawaii, an extraordinary and fascinating novel.”—Saturday Review
“Memorable . . . a superb biography of a people.”—Houston Chronicle
From the Inside Flap
The volcanic processes by which the Hawaiian Islands grew from the ocean floor were inconceivably slow, and the land remained untouched by man for countless centuries until, little more than a thousand years ago, Polynesian seafarers made the perilous journey across the Pacific and discovered their new home. They lived and flourished in this tropical paradise according to their ancient traditions and beliefs until, in the early nineteenth century, American missionaries arrived, bringing a new creed and a new way of life to a Stone Age society. The impact of the missionaries had only begun to be absorbed when other national groups, with equally different customs, began to migrate in great numbers to the islands. The story of modern Hawaii, and of this novel, is one of how disparate peoples, struggling to keep their identity yet live with one another in harmony, ultimately joined together to build America's strong and vital fiftieth state.
Top Customer Reviews
HAWAII follows an organizational pattern familiar to readers of Michener's other huge historical novels. First he tells the geological and prehistoric story of the region that provides the book's setting. Next, he introduces characters from early in that region's history - characters whose descendants people the book's subsequent sections, joined by a new group of immigrants as each of the tale's installments unfolds. The Polynesians - the New England missionaries, whalers, and merchants - the Chinese - and finally, the Japanese, arrive in different eras and under different circumstances. Each of these groups finds its own place, or rather creates its own place, in a society that's both challenged and enriched by Hawaii's ever-increasing racial and cultural diversity.
Genealogy ties this vast story's threads together, yet each of its major characters exists as a memorable individual in his or her own right. The author never allows his book's colorful setting, or the exciting backdrop of world events against which local happenings play out, to upstage those characters - nor does he let them blur into each other, which could easily happen with this many for both author and reader to keep straight. But what reader could possibly forget the great Alii Nui Malama, no matter how many descendants of the original Malama wind up sharing her name? Who could forget missionary wife Jerusha Bromley Hale, or the Chinese concubine whose true name her hundreds of descendants never know?
HAWAII heads the short list of books that I can read over and over, and always find fresh. A master work, indeed!
The genre of blockbuster historical novels can seem somewhat dated (viz. the mammoth novels of Mitchell, Ferber, McCullough, Caldwell and Follett) but they are definitely delicious if you get a taste for them. Dated or not, Hawaii is a gripping tale of not-so-angelic missionaries, struggling immigrants and early Polynesian settlers. The characters are absolutely unforgettable. Some of them are detestable. But that adds to the drama--strong emotion gets you so involved.
My favorite section of the book is still the story of the missionaries running headlong against the traditions of the Polynesian people, whether insisting they wear confining clothing in the tropical heat, or that they should quit their practical tradition of dancing, swimming and surfing in the buff. The missionaries stubbornly eat dried apples shipped to them across the sea, and scorn the richly nutritious native fruits and vegetables unfamiliar to them. They wilt in their long underwear, donned by the season.Read more ›
Since this book is several million years long, that's quite an experience, as is reading this book. I've real quite a bit of Michener's works, and this is buy far his best. For one, there are only 17 pages about geology, not several hundred as in other books. For another, the clear connections of family through the generations in this book really make you know the main characters. For another, it's clear he loves Hawaii, as does anyone who's been there.
This book is the history of Hawaii. It's well arranged, first there are 17 pages of geology, then the Polynesian settlers get 100 pages. Next, we head forward a thousand years and the first Christian missionaries from the east coast arrive (and insisted on wearing wool clothing!) Then came the Chinese, and leprosy. Next the Japanese, and Pearl Harbor. Finally, the golden man emerges a mix of all these races and a good dash of Aloha spirit. Each section follows one or two families who intermix with those already established and intermarry and have children.
This book is fascinating. Every part of it excellent, although I especially love the missionaries, the Chinese family (they're just great characters and you learn so much about Chinese culture) and the descriptions of the Japanese American soldiers fighting in WW2.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Michener's Hawaii is a dated look at the diversity of cultures that made up 1950's. In what passes for sensitivity and enlightenment, he explores the fascinating history that made... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Robert J. Lupo
Wonderful book/--5th time I've read it over a 50 year period of time. His book about Alaska is almost as good--all of his books are well worth readingPublished 14 days ago by bill oman
I love James Michener's books. They are very well researched, and well written. No one does it better. This one has always been my favorite. Read morePublished 27 days ago by L. Cale
One of the best books I've ever read! Got it quickly. Couldn't put it down. An intriguing look at Hawaii, definitely would recommend it to anyone looking to relax and learn more... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alaska Amazoner
From the lovely geographical descriptions of a developing island Michener carries the theme to that of a developing state. Read morePublished 1 month ago by DeAnn Allen
I put this book into my Wish List when I saw that Don Draper was reading it on "Mad Men," in one of the final episodes. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Osborne