Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book 29: Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

Another Sarah Vowell; I’m sure that I should expand my selections but she just makes me laugh.  Well, she usually makes me laugh.  This book was excellent but was severely lacking in humor.  I’m not sure that the subject matter really lends itself to humor though—incest, racism, and destruction of indigenous people isn’t exactly a laugh riot.

Vowell took a more traditional vacation this time, to Hawaii, and visited any and every historical site that she could while there.  She gives the reader a history of Hawaii from Captain Cook’s arrival to present day.  The bulk of the book is focused on the missionaries who tried to charm and convert the Hawaiian monarchy and whose children eventually brought it down.  Vowell definitely enjoyed her time in Hawaii and got to see some pretty amazing sites and objects (particularly Queen Liliʻuokalani’s feathered dress). 

It has been about five months since I finished the book, so the review is pretty vague but I did enjoy it.  The history presented is very frustrating and is an embarrassment to the US.  I never heard too much about the history of Hawaii, even though my dad and his family lived there for a while and they are all obsessed with history.  I guess they just wanted to ignore the unpleasantness.  I would still recommend this book to any history nuts out there because Vowell is a talented and interesting writer and I just hope she keeps putting out books.

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