RAPE IN PARADISE by Theon Wright


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It is relatively easy to reach an overall verdict on this second of the fall's three books on the Massie case; Van Slingerland's (p. 74) is more of a historian's book, Wright's more of a reporter's (he was in Hawaii at the time) although he is aware of many of the political and racial repercussions which were involved in its (mis-)handling. The collective reviews which eventually will appear (and we are handicapped now by not having the earlier book to check at hand) will indicate small discrepancies between the two versions from the title Something Terrible Has Happened to the ""something awful has happened"" which appears in the earlier quoted references here. Wright gives a slightly stronger emphasis here on the Ala Moana or Phase I of the case--notably the alleged rape-assault; Van Slingerland to the second half, namely the ""honor killing"" (which Wright deservedly calls ""lynch law""); this followed when Thalia Massie's husband and mother murdered one of the probably innocent five assailants. Van Slingerland certainly gives fuller details on Thalia herself, her petulant, unstable temperament well in evidence before the ""something terrible"" which invalidates Wright's claim that the crime ""virtually wrecked Thalia Massie's life."" She was never very happy to begin with. However, he rightly shows that the failure of justice was more injurious than the crime itself, and that from the dubious testimony to the suppressed evidence, many people were guilty--in particular the haole (white) elite and the aging, failing Darrow who represented the Massies. Van Slingerland's is the more considered, more extensive and more substantial work, although the popular audience may find Wright's easier to read.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1966
ISBN: 1566477034
Publisher: Hawthorn