Unfamiliar Fishes

By

Vowell’s latest foray into history examines “Hawaii’s bit part in the epic of American global domination,” from the first visit by Captain Cook to the annexation of the territory in 1898. Most of the story covers the nearly 80 years of missionary activity on the islands, during which, as Vowell says, our favorite religion (capitalism) and our second-favorite religion (Christianity) were imported. The missionary zeal of Americans in the 19th century was in full force, when, in 1819, a small band of ministers and teachers, accompanied by several Hawaiian graduates of the Foreign Mission School, left Boston Harbor for a five-month journey to what were then known as the Sandwich Islands. The history of the island people and customs  is well-researched and told in perfect Vowell style, accompanied by pop culture references and asides which connect the historical—such as the locking up of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893—with events of today—the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003.  The American side of the story, from the backroom politics to the idea of Manifest Destiny, is told with equal candor, leaving us better informed, and in some ways wanting to apologize, once again, for American behavior abroad.

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Details

Publisher

Published

Genre

Century

Price
(US) $25.95
(CA) $32.50

ISBN
(US) 9781594487873

Format
Hardback

Pages
256

Review

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