This is a history of Hawaii from the arrival of the first New England Protestant missionaries in the early 19th century until the annexation of Hawaii by the US in 1898.

My take from this is that missionaries are like vampires: once you let them in the door it’s game over. They make little native missionaries, change the rules of the game, take over the government, take the land. And all with the aid and support of the local ruling class. Not that the existing system was a friend of the common person - it wasn’t. It was a brutal hierarchy with a rigid system of taboos that makes Leviticus and Sharia law look pretty mild by comparison. But the end result was that Hawaiians became a minority in their own land (90% of them dying from the diseases brought by Americans and Europeans - just as in America), and wage slaves where previously they at least had more or less stable social relationships.

So when you go to Hawaii and you discover that not every native Hawaiian is thrilled to see yet another haole tourist, this book might help you understand why that is.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: Unfamiliar Fishes
  • Author: Sarah Vowell
  • Published: 2011
  • ISBN: 1594487871
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 3.0 stars