A pertinent work of keen understanding of the complex Hawaiian story.




Revisionist, evenhanded look at Hawaiian dynastic tenacity against ceaseless challenges by larger imperialist powers.

The United States’ annexation of Hawaii in 1898 was not quite a clear-cut, naked act of economic and military rapacity; it required decades of collusion in the Americanization of this highly strategic Pacific archipelago. Novelist and historian Haley (The Texas Supreme Court: A Narrative History, 1836-1986, 2013, etc.) presents a nuanced history that first takes into account the complex and oppressive relationship between the chiefs and the kanaka, the people of the land, in an enormously stratified society that was controlled by a system of kapu (“set apart, holy, forbidden”). Arriving in 1778, Capt. James Cook, declaring the islands the Sandwich Islands, recognized the culture as Polynesian, and while their iron and white skins rendered the English sailors godlike in the eyes of the natives, familiarity bred contempt (the native women avidly mated with these otherworldy men yet the venereal diseases’ spread might have originated from previous contact with Japanese sailors and others), and in a melee, Cook was overwhelmed and stabbed to death. With the help of American weapons, King Kamehameha became undisputed chief of the islands, creating central authority and wealth. However, the allure of the islands attracted Russian, British, French and American vessels as a Pacific crossroads in which exotic fruits like pineapple from the Philippines were introduced, as well as the inevitable “resource extraction” begun in the form of the harvesting of sandalwood trees by American entrepreneurs. The efforts by Christian missionaries and American advisers, the destruction of the kapu system by Queen Ka’ahumanu and the addiction to luxury items (sugar) by the chiefly class all helped undermine the native culture. Haley underscores how remarkable it was that the islands were able to withstand coercion by French, British and American forces for as long as they did.

A pertinent work of keen understanding of the complex Hawaiian story.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-312-60065-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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