Aloha, fellow readers as well as history lovers!
One of the most exciting aspects about studying history is that there are always a variety of viewpoints, especially with the vast array of information that is out there.
“Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii” by James Haley, is a wonderful exercise in objectivity. There is often a trend in history to pick one side or the other when histories are being chronicled. Indeed, even Hawaiian sovereignty is still a hot topic, and it can be easy to upset both those for and against such a notion.
However, we have found Haley’s book to be a well-crafted and highly researched examination of the numerous moments in Hawaii’s history that led it to the place we know it as today. Haley demonstrates how little-known facts make clear that both those of non-Hawaiian influence and those within the Kingdom itself each equally participated in what became of Hawaii.
Following in the well-studied tradition of Gavan Daws’ “Shoal of Time,” Haley’s “Captive Paradise” examines the years between Captain Cook’s first contact with Hawaii and the United States annexation of the Republic of Hawaii. Indeed, as Haley points out, those 120 years affected the culture and history of the Hawaiian Kingdom in ways that were ultimately inevitable.
“Captive Paradise” makes the case that Hawaii, due solely to its geography and the geopolitical forces of the time, would have been forced to make a choice eventually regarding its future on the world stage. Haley argues, convincingly, that given Hawaii’s growing strategic importance in the Pacific Ocean, had the annexation not happened by the United States, then it would have been Russia, or even Japan.
Haley’s book definitely creates conversation and a desire to delve even deeper into a complicated history that is still controversial today. Enjoy!
Ed and Cynthia Justus are owner of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.