Unfamiliar Fishes By Sarah Vowell

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Sarah Vowell ´ 8 FREE READ

I purchased this as a birthday gift for a guy who loves Hawaii and it was a hit. Unfamiliar Fishes I love Vowell's writing, she's very witty and a good researcher. I like who her personal life circumstances drive her curiousity into discovering the history of things and how often things aren't quite what the initially seemed nor how they might have been taught in general by the white priviledged males who have dominated historical records. Unfamiliar Fishes Vowell looks back at the history of the so called Sandwich Islands that Captain Cook encountered during the eighteenth century but also better known as the 59th state of the United States Hawaii. After her interest of visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, Vowell unexpectedly found her way to the legendary Iolani Palace known for the last queen of Hawaii Queen Liliuokalani who supported a counterrevolution and locked up for treason but also known for composing the song Aloha `Oe. Vowell takes note early on in the book how the history of Hawaii has been buried in the past, especially the island's history that pre dates Pearl Harbor, one tattooed on the American memory and the afternoon at another historic site we have forgotten entirely, the monarchy of Hawaii that included King Kamehameha and Queen Liliuokalani, (Kindle version location 90).Indeed, history is the highlight of Vowell's book where she narrates and provides as much background to the history of Hawaii that too is a major part of American history that pre dates what many known about the islands as it relates to World War II. And so, precedes the annexation of the islands and her neighbors, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico as a result of the Spanish American War of 1898. All these events parallel each other in terms of the tumultuous upheavals that took place within the social and political lines of colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, and revolution, but the main premise of her examination concentrates on two sources, the Memoirs of Henry Obookiah and Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History that shows the tremendous affect of colonialism within the islands that ultimately resulted to the end of the monarchy of Hawaii.In spite of the ironic aspects of this part of American history, Vowell retells a history that attempts to bring understanding that is twofold. Firstly, she distinctively makes parallels to her own personal experience with Hawaii, her visit in 2003 and previous to that, as a teenager, watching the 1987 film North Shore starring Matt Adler who played Rick a surfer who decides to get a true taste of the waves by winning a trip to Hawaii to learn how to surf the native way but in the interim encounters a culture clash between he and the natives. Secondly, two major events in history relating to American missionaries in Hawaii that is contiguous to the landing of Puritans in New England where both represent the Americanization of a region and its people. Hawaii and New England share the common experience of its inhabitants greatly affected by disease and conversion within various forms, natives and settlers within this vast landscape that Vowell describes as the spiritual wilderness that missionaries and Puritans sought in their creation of a new world that would later be economically and politically beneficial but not without major transitions taking place.Unfamiliar Fishes opens one's eyes to the history of the past. With Vowell's blunt approach to examining history, after reading the book there most likely will be questions to be asked about the history of Hawaii that may entice readers to delve deeper into the history of the United States or other histories that closely relate to what occurred in Hawaii. There is no doubt that the reading and studying of history comes in various dimensions, especially if a bridge of understanding is established over events that have not been retold too often. Unfamiliar Fishes Well worth reading. No proper mention of Dog the Bounty Hunter (sadly). Unfamiliar Fishes Having grown up on Oahu as a haole til age 18, this was a fascinating read. Started out as the predictable mainlander falling in love with Hawaii suck up book. She started going overboard with new found love for the culture and wanting so badly to convey this to the locals as the cost of ignoring very real deficiencies. But very good and brutally honest assessment of the so called 'land theft' issue. It is a sensitive one, very much alive todayyou see bumper stickers and signs all over, mostly Maui and Kauai. Indeed, Kalakaua deserves much of the blame for large tracts sold off to the cane and pineapple companies, and she covered this accurately.Some errors and omissions: author claims she's been cornered into the Polynesian nosetouching or breathing in greetings. This is doubtful. I've never seen it, local to local or anywhere. Maybe it happens at the Kodak Luau show. never acknowledged that some modern day Hawaiians have co opted today's sovereignty movement. For many it is a noble one. But for some, a self serving platform for those who want a free land grab, payout or to open Indian style casinos. the ancient Hawaiian Kapu rule of law, as quaint as it seems, was wholly unsustainable regardless of the presence of foreigners. Aside from marginalizing women to eat alone as second class citizens, the nobles practice of incestuous inbreeding reduced their lot from towering 7 ft warring superhumans to sickly, diminutive rulers who seldom ruled. In short, the ruling class was doomed to breed itself out of existence, necessitating a replacement government able to deal with a modernizing, shrinking planet. Having not lived in the Islands for years on end, she could not be aware of another undercurrent. Some bite the hand that feedsso many migrate towards military or government jobs and live on monthly pensions, yet dwell on how evil the haoles and US Gov are. Indeed, many friends and cousins of mine are proud Americans and are conflicted by these competing emotions. Obama and his grandfather toured Punahou campus in the 1960s? No, you're off by at least a decade Sarah. BTW, as a Punahou alum I can tell you the Obama love fest tapered off at the school a few years ago when it was clear what a clueless amateur he is. Sorry NPR! The reference to 'a Hawaiian activist told me,' regarding knowledge of how the Manifest Destiny stems from Hawaiian distrust of the pope?? I don't think so. Need a source here. lastly, the frustrating lack of robust footnotes makes this less historical and anecdotal/conjecture.Its important to remember that no place on the planet, especially one as beautiful and strategically crucial as the Sandwich Isles, can remain forever untouched or un fought over. This is a romantic fantasy. Consider that, of the Japanese, Russians, and even the Brits (colonial era), we Americans were and are the most benevolent of conquerors. As ugly as the overthrow was, it spared Hawaiians the Russian rod. Stalinist era anyone?Having dozens of Hawaiian relatives by marriage, I am keenly aware of the disdain felt toward haoles. This mostly vanishes when people realize we are related and then the true warm disposition comes out, this a side few haoles see.Overall, I enjoyed the relaxed humor and respectful, bemused first person narrative played off against solid scholarly research. The lack of footnotes severely detracts from the veracity of many findings, especially for local haoles like me. Its good to keep in mind the book is not trying to be a boiler plate history lesson. It serves its purpose well. Book was recommended to me by a Punahou classmate, and I've sent it on to a few others. Nice work Sarah! Unfamiliar Fishes