Island World: A History of Hawai'i and the United States

Gary Y. Okihiro, Author . Univ. of California $27.50 (308p) ISBN 978-0-520-25299-8

In the first volume of a projected trilogy, Okihiro, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia, largely succeeds in a radical approach to historiography as applied to Hawaii. He defies the standard linear progression and view of “humans as subjects with volition without regard for the agencies of other life-forms....” Okihiro combines human history, natural history and mythic Hawaiian folklore with interpretations of how Hawaiian cultural artifacts (such as surfboards) infiltrated American culture and vice versa. He likewise depicts the lives of Hawaiians who wound up in North America, either by choice or involuntarily. In young islanders taken to be Westernized at special schools, Okihiro sees a parallel to similar cultural cleansing (or “schooling for subservience”) of Native Americans. He also narrates the slow decimation of the rich and varied Hawaiian musical tradition reduced to clichés, à la Don Ho. Thus, Okihiro places the story of Hawaii in direct and constant relation to the story of the United States. Some readers may find this eclectic mix of facts hard to follow and synthesize, but all will come away intrigued and enlightened. 57 b&w photos, 6 maps. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-520-26167-9
Ebook - 328 pages - 978-0-520-93419-1
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