Since its original publication (c1959), Michener’s sprawling saga of the Hawaiian Islands has been enjoyed by millions of readers. Tracing the islands’ rich and varied history from its volcanic beginnings through its turbulent years toward statehood, the author relates a colorful and absorbing tale of the territory that eventually became part of the United States.
Although most critics have complained that his characters are not well drawn, there are several standouts: gentle New England missionary Jerusha Bromley and her stern husband Abner Hale; adventurer Rafer Hoxworth; native queen Malama and her beautiful daughter, Noelani; indomitable Chinese matriarch Nyuk Tsin; empire builder Hoxworth Hale. Michener skillfully weaves his large cast into an enormous tapestry of interconnected stories that highlight important periods in the island’s history. Filled with lush description, dramatic events, and accurate, informative historical and cultural details, the author clearly depicts how a continuous influx of peoples of different backgrounds and interests transformed the exotic island paradise into a modern state.
Many readers may find Michener’s writing style slow and sometimes dull. However, the ultimate reward is a memorable and fascinating portrait of our fiftieth state.