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Missionaries in Hawai'i: The Lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick, 1797-1883 Paperback – September 11, 2012

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"This book is extremely well researched and well written. I think it will make a lasting contribution to the history of missionaries in Hawai'i."―Paul Burlin, author of Imperial Maine and Hawai'i: Interpretative Essays in the History of Nineteenth-Century American Expansion

"Extremely well researched and well written. I think it will make a lasting contribution to the history of missionaries in Hawai'i."―Paul Burlin

"Putney's introduction is a useful condensed overview of the motivating forces behind the American missionary movement, including nineteenth-century theology and views on race and ethnicity."―The New England Quarterly

"Putney tells the Gulicks' life stories with an assurance born of meticulous research and attention to contextual detail. . . . there is not doubt that Putney does well what he set out to do. His achievements are considerable. . . .Putney's study makes a decidedly constructive and welcome contribution to the field."―American Historical Review

"This well written and readable work includes seven chapters that are divided both chronologically and, more importantly, according to the geographical location of the Gulicks. Thus, it starts with Peter and Fanny's early life and upbringing in New England and New York, continues with the couple's mission work at various stations in Hawai'i, and ends with their move to Japan and their eventual deaths in that country. . . . Putney's monograph will be most appreciated by the general public and scholars of missionary history in Hawai'i."―The Hawaiian Journal of History

"Peter and Fanny spent nearly half a century in the Hawaiian kingdom, ranging from a hardscrabble existence on Molokai to helping found Punahou School, and their efforts not only helped draw Hawaii into America's political orbit, argues Putney; they helped preserve Hawaiian culture by bringing into into the modern age."―Honolulu Star-Advertiser

"Putney tells the Gulicks' life stories with an assurance born of meticulous research and attention to contextual detail. . . . Not framed as a tale of heroic deeds, Putney's narrative sustains an interest through his sketching of the complex exchanges between the New Englanders and the Native Hawaiian people. . . . He points to the rigidities, self-discipline, and sacrifices that marked the missionaries' experiences with a notable compassion for human frailties combined with a gently wry humor."―American Historical Review

"Meticulously researched, Missionaries in Hawai'i may prove an indispensable reference for specialists. Missiologists will doubtless appreciate both Putney's intimate familiarity with Gulick family history and his contextualization of their work."―Pacific Historical Review

"Putney raises his own important historiographical issue by pointing to the need for complex, balanced histories of the mission and missionaries that are neither hagiographic nor strictly condemnatory. In his text, the author does not shy away from critiques of the Gulicks; admitting that "their religious zealand cultural parochialism acted as blinders, preventing them from seeing much value in traditional Hawaiian society" (p. 157). . . . Putney's biography of the Gulicks adds important knowledge about missionary lives in Hawai'i to previous understandings. Contextualized as a view of Hawai'i from English-language sources, it is a recommended read."―The Catholic Historical Review

About the Author

Clifford Putney is assistant professor of history at Bentley University and author of Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880–1920.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558499911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558499911
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,937,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Putney's "Missionaries in Hawai'i" endeavors to take a balanced and "empathetic rather than hagiographic or condemnatory" approach in studying the lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick (5). He seeks to avoid the celebratory, saint-like status that some evangelicals may bestow upon the couple in light of their successful efforts at christianizing the islanders (the majority of the populace converted to American-style Protestantism). He also seeks to avoid the opposite extreme propounded by some Hawaiian nationalists that accuse the "intolerant meddlers" of exploiting the natives by being "advance agents of U.S. imperialism." Putney argues that the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) missionaries did much good for Hawaii yet they were not without their faults and motives of spreading American capitalism and democracy.

In researching the Gulicks, Putney's sources are impressive thanks to the large amount of preserved Gulick writings. The family papers are so numerous that Putney can state "that they make the Gulicks one of the best documented middle-class families in American history" (6). The author also spent two summers doing on-site research in Hawaii.

Some of the book's many strengths are its excellent research, lucid writing, unbiased approach, and skillful interweaving of the Gulicks' theologically conservative yet socially progressive beliefs with a narrative of their practical "jack-of-all-trades" missionary work. Regarding Putney's fair-minded approach, an example is how he portrays, through the eyes of their children and grandchildren, Peter and Fanny Gulick as parents and missionaries.
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Format: Hardcover
Missionaries in Hawai'i: The Lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick, 1797-1883 is a biography of two pioneer missionaries to Hawai'i. Clifford Putney (assistant professor of history, Bentley University) evenly weighs historical evidence of the full role that Peter and Fanny Gulick - and many others like them - played in Hawaiian history. Hawaiian missionaries have been criticized for being the advance guard to American imperialism in the island culture, yet Putney also focuses on how the missionary enterprise helped protect and preserve key elements of the Hawaiian way of life, including the Hawaiian language. Drawing upon letters, journals, and a wealth of other primary sources, Missionaries in Hawai'i offers a balanced, informed and informative overall picture, and is a strongly recommended contribution to Hawaiian history and biography shelves.
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I liked the book, I already knew a bit about the mission family and know a lot more now. Any Hawaii History buff will benefit from this book. It is well researched and will add some knowledge to your undersanding of Hawaii.
Pretty easy to understand, not too academic thought it does have a huge bibliography which is useful to other researchers.
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