cover image The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai

The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai

John Tayman, . . Scribner/Lisa Drew, $27.50 (421pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-3300-2

From 1866 through 1969, the Hawaiian and American governments banished nearly 9,000 leprosy sufferers into exile on a peninsula on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Former Outside editor Tayman crafts a tale of fear, endurance and hope in telling the story of these unfortunate victims of ignorance (leprosy is caused by a simple bacteria and isn't nearly as contagious as was long believed). After a smallpox epidemic wiped out a fifth of the Hawaiian population in the 1850s, leprosy was seen as the next cataclysmic threat, and drastic measures were taken. For more than 100 years, anyone diagnosed with the disease was taken to the remote colony. Initially, conditions were horrible, with few services or proper medical treatment. Pushed to their limit and fueled with potent moonshine, the internees frequently rioted, causing overseers to enforce cruel laws. Later, as science and social thinking evolved, conditions improved and many in the settlement lived lives of near normalcy. Drawing on contemporary sources and eyewitness accounts of the still surviving members of the colony, Tayman has created a fitting monument to the strength and character of the castoffs in particular, and human beings as a whole. B&w photos. Agent, David McCormick. (Jan. 3)