DUKE – A
Great Hawaiian , by Sandra Kimberley Hall,
2004, Bess Press
Duke was an remarkable human being in all respects – surfing
just being a part of the amazing life story of this man who was, in Kimberley's
words, probably "the greatest aquatic sportsman the world has ever
known." I'm not going to recap the whole book - but Duke, born into
families with royal Hawaiian bloodlines, started out as a delivery clerk
and hack driver. From that humble start, he went on to become a medaled
Olympic swimmer, surfing champion, surveyor in the Honolulu Water Department,
Hawai`i's Aloha representative to the World, a movie star and Sheriff
of the City and County of Honolulu for 26 years! And yet, through all
this notoriety, Duke remained true to his Hawaiian roots – enjoying
time with his ohana, eating local food and sharing his kindness and generosity
with everybody. Kimberley's book is just right. She tells Duke's
story smoothly and succinctly and with plenty of photos (on every other
page, actually). This is the kind of book that visitors will want to
take home and locals will want to keep sitting around for visitors and
friends to read. (And now I'm finally no longer ignorant about one of
Hawai`i's greatest heroes!)
KAHANA – How
the Land Was Lost, Robert H. Stauffer, University
of Hawai`i Press
Kahana is a detailed study of the Kuleana (homesteads)
in one ahupua`a (land division) on the north shore of the
island of O`ahu. The reason that the author chose this area
to study is because previously unavailable land-tenure records have
recently been released by the State Archives for this area. By
1920, Mary Foster had obtained ownership of almost all of Kahana. Fortunately,
she kept meticulous records – the database contains over 2,500 conveyances,
including careful notes on all transactions. As a result, it's
possible to construct a nearly complete picture of exactly what happened
in this ahupua`a . (Today, Kahana is home to Kahana
Valley Park, a "living park" where over 30 native Hawaiian
families live, nurturing and fostering native Hawaiian culture.)
Hawaiians had no concept of private land ownership – it
was all commonly owned (but by the ali`i , of course). The Mahele (1846-1855)
converted land into a commodity that could be bought, sold and mortgaged. Convention
says that the ali`i received a lot more land than commoners
did. That's true, but if you look at the value of the land,
it was about equal since the kuleana were developed and the ali`i's portion
of the ahupua`a was not. Most of the ali`i's lands
had been sold off by 1893, much of it to Chinese owners,
not Americans! But native Hawaiians did use Western law to buy some
of it back by forming Hui's (associations) to purchase it. The
Hui Movement was a very important but seldom mentioned part of the
history of the land in Hawai`i. Unfortunately, it ultimately
failed. If kuleana or hui land had been
reserved solely for ownership by native Hawaiians, the land ownership
picture in Hawai`i today would probably be very different.
Stauffer explains in detail how the Hawaiians lost
their land and then explores how it actually happened in Kahana. While
he does this, we learn a lot about how the traditional Hawaiian social
system functioned and more about the Hui Movement. While tedious
at times, this is an excellent new book and a tremendous addition to
the history of Hawai`i. If you have even a passing interest
in how the ownership of the land here passed out of Hawaiian hands,
then Stauffer's book is a "must read" for you.
A hefty 6-pound "coffee-table book," Finding
Paradise almost ended up in two volumes. It features objects and artworks
culled from private collections and from the Academy’s holdings,
using some 500 images to document collections of stone, wood, bone, feather
and fiber; paintings and drawings; books and photographs; jewelry; souvenirs;
furniture; ukuleles; etc. Many of the items shown here have never been
seen by the public before. Some of the items from private collections
are things that museums typically don't have because they were deemed
to be "beneath them" to collect at the time that they were
easily available. Postage stamps are a good example; one Hawaiian stamp
recently sold for $2 million!
Essays by some of Hawaii’s most prominent collectors, museum curators
and historians examine the role these collections have played in popularizing—and
sometimes distorting—Hawaii’s image beyond its shores. Finding
Paradise represents an excellent synergy between two often very different
types of collections and was also an excellent learning opportunity for
the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Producing it was kind of a "high-brow
meets low-brow" opportunity for both "sides." If you like
Hawaiiana, or are just plain interested in Hawaiian culture and history,
this is a beautifully done "must have" book.
This is an absolutely beautiful book. Through it,
you can take a step back in time to where kife was lived at a slower pace.
If you have enen a passing interest in the early days of Honolulu, or
in the role that streetcars played in shaping urban life, this book is
a wonderful experience. The authors have done an incredible amount of
detailed research to produce this book. It sucessfuly recreates
how the streetcar provided the focus for the everyday movement of people
around Honolulu, and was also a major factor in how the city constantly
expanded its boundaries. The photographs and the illustrations are absolutely
top-notch - it's one of the best organized and presented books that I've
seen in a long time. Many "railroad" books can be boring
for non-railfans, but not this one. I guarantee that if this work
of art is sitting on your "coffee table," no one will be able
to resist picking it up and "breezing" through it !!
Little has been
written about Hawaiians in North America; the emphasis on indigenous peoples
has been mostly on North American Indians. Hawaiians played a significant
part in the American west, and this book chronicles those people, places
and events very well. Scores of Hawaiians actually left their warm,
sunny homelands to settle in the Pacific Northwest. By the 1800's,
there were many Kanakas living in the area, but especially in the Vancouver
area, in Victoria and along the British Colombia and Washington coasts.
Tom Koppel has compiled a well researched chronicle of these extraordinary
migrations. His book, even while being filled with details, flows
extremely well and is hard to put down (and I'm not even from the Northwest).
References for further follow-up or research are excellent.
I think that as
we study and try to understand a place that we love, but that isn't "ours"
and is far away, our intimacy with our adopted love matures, just as happens
in human relationships. And so we graduate from guidebooks to books
on history, culture, religion, etc. etc. And then you realize that
you want to know the people - who they are, where they came from, how
they live, and what they feel. You want to see the land through
their eyes and to feel their pain and their joy. And you search
for books that tell those stories ........
This is truly one
of those books. It's a result of oral interviews conducted under the auspices
of the Ethnic Studies Oral History project and chronicles the lives of
12 working people who were in the prime of their lives between 1920 and
1960. (One of them is Osame Manago, of the Manago Hotel in Captain
Cook on the Big Island). These wonderful Hawaiians' oral histories
are organized into 4 chapters titled In the Country, In the
City, On the Plantation and In the Small Town.
The interviews are totally captivating and present a window into the lives
of Hawaii's living treasures - her people. Don't start this
book unless you really have the time to read it - I guarantee that you
won't be able to put it down!
This is the classic
history of Hawai`i. Excellently researched, well written, fascinating.
If you want just one book on Hawaii's history, this should be the one.
One caveat; it's written from a pretty European perspective, so don't
expect a lot of Hawaiian cultural information here. Still, it's
another "must have." One warning though - it's extremely
detailed and tends to bog you down a little if you aren't into comprehensive
a history of the Hawaiian Kingdom from about 1824 to 1894, a year after
which the "Committee of Safety" overthrew the legitimate Kingdom
of Hawaii with the help of U.S. Marines. The story is both fascinating,
infuriating AND inevitable given the attitudes of the times. This
book includes quotations and extensive references to 40 years of confidential
diplomatic documents. It has an obvious pro-sovereignty slant, but
is well done and makes good reading. It includes historic photographs
and an introduction by John Waihee, immediate past Governor of Hawaii.
of Time" (above) takes a more conventional "timeline"
approach to history, Mr. Joesting takes a slightly different approach.
Hence the title "UNCOMMON." Our fiftieth state is most
definitely different than the 49 others, so this book's novel approach
fits right in. Instead of presenting Hawaii's history in a timeline,
the author has selected 16 vignettes, each of which presents a comprehensive
picture of what was happening in Hawaii during a critical time in it's
history. In doing so, he covers the time span from the legends of
Hawaii's original settlers to World War II. This book won an award
from the American Association of State and Local History. It's very
well done and fascinating reading. We recommend it highly.
After she was deposed
from the throne by a group of U.S. businessmen, Queen Liliuokalani wrote
down her own story of what happened. Her book is partially an autobiography
and was published in 1898 - 5 years after the overthrow. The
queen was a very intelligent, well-educated woman who took great pride
in, and had a very deep love for, both her royal predecessors AND for
her people. Her presentation is, naturally, colored by those feelings,
but her version of the facts does not differ very much from those of other
writes. The Queen was a woman of great character, and this shows
throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter. During
the time when she wrote her book, the Queen was deposed, retired and widowed.
Yet she still pleads for understanding not for herself, but for the cause
if Hawaiian autonomy.