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The most recent state to join the union, Hawaii is the only one to have once been a royal kingdom. After its discovery by Captain Cook in the late 18th century, Hawaii was fought over by European powers determined to take advantage of its position as the crossroads of the Pacific. The arrival of the first missionaries marked the beginning of the struggle between a native culture with its ancient gods, sexual libertinism, and rites of human sacrifice and the rigid values of the Calvinists. While Hawaii's royal rulers adopted Christianity, they also fought to preserve their ancient ways. But the success of the ruthless American sugar barons sealed their fate, and in1893 the American Marines overthrew Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii.
Captive Paradise is the story of King Kamehameha I, the Conqueror, who unified the islands through terror and bloodshed but whose dynasty succumbed to inbreeding; of Gilded Age tycoons like Claus Spreckels, who brilliantly outmaneuvered his competitors; of firebrand Lorrin Thurston, who was determined that Hawaii be ruled by whites; of President McKinley, who presided over the eventual annexation of the islands. Not since James Michener's classic novel Hawaii has there been such a vibrant and compelling portrait of an extraordinary place and its people.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jonathan on 07-09-15
Good, but not enough history of the Island.
All this writer focuses on is the royal family. The beginning is great. A more complete history of the late 1700's.
But that's a very small part of the book. Beyond that this is not a history of Hawaii but a history of the royal family. If you are looking to learn about Hawaii and their people, industry, etc as a whole and not just about the royal family then get a different book. This is not the one.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Sean on 01-04-15
A balanced perspective
An in depth look at Hawaiian history from all sides.
Most histories either vilify the white man or explain how the natives got what they deserved. The author does a good job of portraying the major characters as real human beings warts and all. Still, one comes away with tremendous sympathy for the native Hawaiians.
He clearly demonstrates that the native monarchs were just as complicit in commercializing the islands as the sugar barons or sea captains. And they did it with full understanding of the consequences of their actions.
He dispels the myth of the "good old days" by pointing out that in pre-contact Hawaii 9,999 out of 10,000 natives were essentially serfs subject to human sacrifice or capital punishment at the whim of the rulers.
He makes no apologies for the annexation movement condemning it in the harshest terms. But he is also quick to quell historical "what ifs" by pointing out that the next most likely fate for the islands was to become a Japanese protectorate--a bullet dodged.
I enjoyed the performance but I dislike the current trend to perform audiobooks as opposed to reading them. A Scottish character--break out the Highland brogue, a Spaniard--rev up the RRRRRs. I wish they would offer a straight reading along with the performance version of these books.
I would recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in Hawaiian history, but it is detailed so don't expect to get through in on a plane ride to your island vacation.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful