THE DISENCHANTED ISLES: The Story of the Second Revolution in Hawaii by Theon Wright

THE DISENCHANTED ISLES: The Story of the Second Revolution in Hawaii

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Hawaiian history includes the oppression of native inhabitants by God-fearing missionaries turned planters, a thriving latifundia system built by chattel labor recruited throughout Asia, union struggles, oligarchic repression, and then -- progress fulfilled. Wright's history presents the sequence in Hegelian fashion: transformation follows transformation in an inevitable causal chain until the island finds its true Moral Idea in the person of Dan Inouye and the Democratic Party. ""The process of empire-building in its early stages required a form of feudal control, regardless of whether it was morally justified."" But the ""big Five"" oligarchs created the conditions for their own demise: they failed to ""understand the Oriental mentality"" or ""recognize the importance of the public schools as a breeding ground for democracy."" The post-World War II period sees the triumph of the rational as the educated offspring of plantation workers merge with the trade unions and the Democratic machine to bring about ""the second revolution."" In between there are homilies on racism and, above all, frequent tributes to Inouye, who ""was not unlike another young man. . . John Fitzgerald Kennedy""; ahonu'i, we are told, means patience and perseverance, traits the ancient Hawaiians respected -- the reader will need them to plow through Wright's exposition. Because it pretends to historical scope, this is not directly comparable to Francine Gray's Hawaii: The Sugar-Coated Fortress (p. 232), which focuses on the present in a more critical and stylistically agreeable way.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1972
Publisher: Dial