Finished November 15
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
This history of Hawaii concentrates on the period from the arrival of New England missionaries in 1820 to the questionable annexation in 1898 by the United States. She not only gives the history, bringing the various characters to life for the reader, but also interjects commentary, giving us a sense of her own personality.
There is much here that I didn't know, and knowing the way the descendents of the missionaries, who were welcomed by the islanders, betrayed them only a couple of generations later, is disturbing. There were definitely some issues with the adjustment of the native Hawaiians to the westernized way of life, but considering the length of time over which this happened, they'd done quite a lot to give their own people more say and independence. Initiating a constitutional monarchy and gaining foreign recognition was a huge step in such a short time. Forcing annexation as was done here ignored the will of the people in favor of the power of capitalism and military power.
A sad, but enlightening read.