THE LAST KING OF PARADISE by Eugene Burns

THE LAST KING OF PARADISE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A colorful biography of a colorful man who lived in an equally vivid time and place. David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii, ruled in the latter half of the 19th century until his death in 1896, and was survived in monarchy only by the short reign of his sister Liliuokalani who was ousted from her throne before Hawaii became a United States territory in 1900. Coming to power, it was required of Kalakaua, an Aikanaka, to prevail over the long standing Kamehameha dynasty and through his position as chief adviser to the last of the Kamehamehas, maneuver politically with whites and Hawaiians to establish his own rule and with it, to inherit the cross section of problems that beset the islands' development. Hawaiian fought Hawaiian over the issue of white appeasement. Missionary fought trader over the use of land, the loose morals of the natives. And whites fought Hawaiians over the ultimate question of who would be the stronger element in the Pacific. To the end it was Kalakaua's ambition to establish a united kingdom of the Pacific with himself as titular head and for this he journeyed to Japan to enlist, without success, the help of Emperor Matsuhito, and he died murmuring of his futile efforts. Politically and emotionally a sad reign, Kalakaua's was nevertheless marked with the romance and drama of the Victorian era. He journeyed to Europe and the United States, became friends with such as Robert Louis Stevenson on his own shores. Eugene Burns' lively style does justice to his hero and to the significance of the period so important in the growth of the Pacific and the study of western impact on native culture.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1952
Publisher: Pellegrini & Cudahy