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Hawaii by James A. Michener

Hawaii (1959)

by James A. Michener

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Michener is known for his research when doing historical novels. This is no different. The book starts with the volcanic rising up of the island chain. It then hypothesizes about the influx of the original inhabitants from other Polynesian islands and goes onto tell of the American missionaries and merchants. As well as the immigration of Chinese and Japanese to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations and so forth. Each part of the book is connected in some way to the next. It's a thick book but well worth the time to read. ( )
  krgulick | Jun 19, 2019 |
This had been on my TBR shelf since 2012 and I finally decided to read it. I like to read at least one, if not more, deep and many paged book a year and this was the one. I took my time as it was not a simple plot but rather an interweaving of a number of plots. To me it was as if I was reading 5 books under one cover. Each could have almost stood alone as one book, but yet there were references to the previous 'books.'

The first was the formation of the islands, before there was any animal or human life. It was a bit drawn out for me. Describing the volcanic action that caused the build up of layers, creating the actual islands.

The second was the arrival of the people and the history and reason for them to come to the islands and establish themselves. This was the story of the people that became the inhabitants of the islands and became known as the Hawaiians. How they came to be there, their previous history and home. It again was a bit drawn out, but I figured that that was to impress the difficulty of their journey from their original home to this new one. The people were the ancestors of the Kanakoa family.

The third was the arrival of the missionaries who came to 'civilize' the 'savages' by introducing the Hawaiians to Christianity and its lifestyle. Changing the original inhabitants' lives and beliefs to align with theirs. This involved the Hale, Whipple, Hewlett, Janderses and Hoxworths families. These families became the leaders and controllers of the islands. They basically overtook the Hawaiians' place.

The fourth was the arrival of the Chinese and Japanese, who were brought over to work as slaves in the sugar cane and pineapple fields. Enticed with the story that they would only be there for a short while, save up a good sum of money and return to their homelands. Their lives were not easy, nor were they able to save up a good sum of money to return to their homelands. This brought in the the Kee family (China) and Sakagawa family (Japan).

The fifth covers these families and how they have inter-meshed through business, land ownership and marriage. How their cultures existed side-by-side and also combined. It ends in the 1950s, having started in about the 800s.

It is definitely not a quick read. Taking time gave me the ability to think about the people and what was happening to them and their world. I amy not have been there, but I felt that I had a little knowledge of what things may have been like. I don't feel that it was a waste of time to read this. I have read Michener before and know that he does thorough research and his writing is solid.

Yup, a good read for me. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Oct 3, 2018 |
5563. Hawaii, by James A. Michener (read 18 Jun 2018) This is the sixth Michener novel I have read and the first since I read his Chesapeake on 6 July 2000. It tells of the coming of Polynesians to Hawaii, then of the coming of New England missionaries in 1820, and of the coming of Japanese and Chinese and in typical Michener fashion tells of their descendants through the years, right up to 1954. probably the best part was the account of the Japanese-Americans fighting in Europe during World War Ii, which I think had some historical accuracy. The book was published in 1959 but does not tell of the attainment of statehood in 1959. The accounts of the voyages of the Tahitians and the missionaries are vivid and exciting, but there are lots of dull pages in the 1150 page novel. And though there are fictional characters who supposedly did brilliantly at Harvard Law I was underimpressed at the discussions of legal matters and of lawyers. The book is far too long and one less determined than I am to finish what I start would have quit long before the last page. Will I read anything more by Michener. I would say it is doubtful. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jun 18, 2018 |
I got 50 pages from the end and then packed it in. It's long. Really long. In fairness to Mr. Michener, I did like the most of the book but found the move into modern day Hawaii a little boring so I just quit. ( )
  blnq | Apr 20, 2018 |
I was able to get quite a bit of reading of this massive book while I was sick recently. Another epic novel based on the history of the Hawaiian Islands. From the beginning of the island formation, through 1953. A large cast of characters, many historical events regarding WWII and the labor strikes on the sugar plantations. (Paul say his dad, Wayne, loved this book!) ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 14, 2017 |
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Millions upon millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375760377, Paperback)

In Hawaii, Pulitzer Prize–winning author James Michener weaves the classic saga that brought Hawaii’s epic history vividly alive to the American public on its initial publication in 1959, and continues to mesmerize even today.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This epic novel traces the origins and history of the islands of Hawaii, from their volcanic birth, through the first arrivals of humans from Polynesia, followed by European sailors and missionaries, then Chinese and Japanese laborers, to the modern blending of cultures.… (more)

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