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Kauai: The Separate Kingdom Paperback – April 30, 1988
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Top Customer Reviews
My only ping is it tends to jump dates and times about subjects while on the same page and you lose track of where you are. I can understand why the author did this, but it breaks the flow when you are trying to process Hawaiian names and places at the same time.
But don't let that stop you from purchasing this book if you want a real history and education on Kauai. If you can retain 10% of what this book offers, you will be an expert on the island.
If you go or have gone to Kauai, the places you visit will have much more meaning than just going to a snorkeling location or paddling the Wailua river. You learn about how sacred these places were to the ancient Hawaiians and also how the island both prospered and faultered throughout its inhabitance.
The Na Pali coast is devoid of any people or communities today, but in ancient times, many people lived in those valleys. Families trekked across treacherous terrains just to visit each other. It is amazing to think about when you stand at the top of the Kalalau lookout.
When you pull off the side of the rode to look at the Hanapepe valley, you are looking at the location where many people were killed as "payback" for Kauai's resistance to unification of the islands from years past.
These stories and more are vividly explained. It's not a tale of fiction or an easy read like Harry Potter. What it is though is a thoughtful, historic and educational story of the island and the people who lived there.
The only interesting history of Kauai I could find was Kauai: The Separate Kingdom. It’s a solid historical treatment of Hawaii’s oldest island, moving at a brisk clip from settlement by early Polynesians through the rise and fall of sugar plantations. Along the way, readers learn about the religion and customs of early natives, warfare and politics between the various island tribes, the “discovery” of the islands by westerners, the impact of the whaling industry, the arrival of missionaries, agricultural interests including doomed sandalwood ventures to raise silk worms — and more.
It’s an educational though not very lively look at a truly wonderful place rich in history. It was published 25 years ago and, while it serves its purpose ably, a more comprehensive history that does a better, deeper and more nuanced job would be welcome, especially one that talks about joining the United States.
Still, I will forever fondly remember reading it on Ke’e beach and slowly realizing the ancient, sacred temple used by hula dancers hundreds of years ago was literally yards away from us, hidden by brush. To celebrate the graduation of the class, those who made it through the rigors of training, everyone from nearby villages would gather on the beach for food and fun and dancing, and the bravest of the young men climbed to the tops of the jagged peaks behind us to hurl flaming spears out into the sea in what had to be a truly unforgettable pyrotechnic show.
kala mai for the negative review.