"This quirky, brilliant book gives the reader the thrill of cultural history done well. Okihiro undertakes a conventional topic in a jarring way, avoiding the assumption of set boundaries of nations and human societies."Henry Yu, author of Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America
"This beautifully written book integrates the history of Hawai'i into that of the U.S. better than any other I have ever read." Patricia Seed, author of American Pentimento: The
Indians and the Pursuit of Riches
In the first volume of a projected trilogy, Okihiro, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia, largely succeeds in a radical approach to historiography as applied to Hawaii. He defies the standard linear progression and view of "humans as subjects with volition without regard for the agencies of other life-forms...." Okihiro combines human history, natural history and mythic Hawaiian folklore with interpretations of how Hawaiian cultural artifacts (such as surfboards) infiltrated American culture and vice versa. He likewise depicts the lives of Hawaiians who wound up in North America, either by choice or involuntarily. In young islanders taken to be Westernized at special schools, Okihiro sees a parallel to similar cultural cleansing (or "schooling for subservience") of Native Americans. He also narrates the slow decimation of the rich and varied Hawaiian musical tradition reduced to clichés, à la Don Ho. Thus, Okihiro places the story of Hawaii in direct and constant relation to the story of the United States. Some readers may find this eclectic mix of facts hard to follow and synthesize, but all will come away intrigued and enlightened. 57 b&w photos, 6 maps. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.