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Hawaii is not only a truly great story but a notable literary achievement. It is a work of fiction, yet so true to the spirit and the history of the islands that it can properly be called the first major chronicle of the land and its people – a monumental tribute that will stand indefinitely.

The volcanic process by which the Hawaiian Islands grew from the ocean floor were inconceivably slow, and they remained, undiscovered and untouched by man, for countless centuries more until the Polynesians, little more than a thousand years ago made the perilous and incredible journey to their new home. Those passionate and beautiful people lived and flourished in the islands according to their ancient traditions and beliefs until in the early nineteenth century, the American missionaries arrived, bringing a new creed and a new way of life to stone-aged society. The impact of the coming of the missionaries had only begun to be absorbed when other national groups, with equally different customs – notably the Chinese, the Japanese and the Filipinos – began to migrate in great numbers to the islands. The story of modern Hawaii, and of this book, is one of how disparate peoples, struggling to keep their identity, yet live with each other in harmony, ultimately joined together to build our strong and vital fiftieth state.

Mr. Michener has told this story in terms of highly individual characters whom readers will not soon forget – men and women of many nations, from the time of the earliest voyagers to arrive in Hawaii by canoe to the eve of statehood. His emphasis is on the characters, their personal triumphs and tragedies, loves and hatreds; but their compelling dramas are acted in front of an accurate and informative background of history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9784871879460
Publisher: Ishi Press
Publication date: 06/16/2019
Pages: 956
Sales rank: 905,222
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.88(d)

About the Author

JAMES A. MICHENER was born in New York in 1907 and grew up in Doylestown , Pennsylvania, which he left at fourteen to bum his way cross-country. The years that followed, with their great variety of odd jobs and experience, were an important part of his early education. Feeling the need for some more formal training, he entered Swarthmore College and studied in the honors course. After some postgraduate years of "teaching others how to teach" he became an associate editor in the textbook department of a publishing firm where his stay was interrupted by World War II.
Out of his war time experience in the Salomon Islands came "Tales of the South Pacific" (Pulitzer Prize, 1947), which was adopted into the musical South Pacific by Rodgers, Logan and Hammerstein. There followed Fires of Spring, an autobiographical novel: Return to Paradise; The Voice of Asia: The Bridges at Toko-Ri; Saronaya: The Floating World; The Story of Japanese Prints; The Bridge at Andau and (with A. Grove Day) Rascals in Paradise.
Hawaii is not just a literary interest for James A. Michener; it is also a home. He established residence in the islands a few years ago and he has become an active participant in the civic affairs of Hawaii. His keen interest in statehood for Hawaii manifested itself in activities on many fronts.
James Michener himself was a foundling. A foundling is a baby who is abandoned at birth by his mother and often left on the steps of a church or a hospital or, worse yet, left in a trash dumpster. Michener was never able to find out who his mother and father were. This was unfortunate for them, as Michener became a millionaire due to the popularity of his works and they could have gotten the money had they identified themselves. His birth date is listed as February 3, 1907 but Michener wrote that he did not know who his biological parents were or exactly when or where he was born. He said he was raised a Quaker by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. By the way, my family was from there too!!! Michener did not have children, as his Japanese wife never had children, so Michener has neither known ancestors nor descendants.
Having no family to leave his money to, Michener contributed more than $100 million to universities, libraries, museums, and other charitable causes. In his final years, the Micheners lived in Austin, Texas. He and his wife endowed the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. It provides Michener Fellowship scholarships to students accepted to the university's MFA in Writing graduate writing program. His last wife, who was Japanese, died in 1994. Michener had no children. Suffering from terminal kidney disease, in October 1997, Michener ended the daily Dialysis treatments that had kept him alive for four years. He said he had accomplished what he wanted and did not want further physical complications. On October 16, 1997, James A. Michener died of kidney failure at the age of 90. He was cremated and his ashes were placed next to those of his wife at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery in Austin, Texas.
With modern DNA testing it may be possible to dig up his cremated remains and find out who his biological parents were, but why would anybody want to do that?

Date of Birth:

February 3, 1907

Date of Death:

October 16, 1997

Place of Death:

Austin, Texas


B.A. in English and history (summa cum laude), Swarthmore College, 1929; A.M., University of Northern Colorado, 1937.

Read an Excerpt

Millions upon millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others. It was a mighty ocean, resting uneasily to the east of the largest continent, a restless ever-changing, gigantic body of water that would later be described as pacific.

Over its brooding surface immense winds swept back and forth, whipping the waters into towering waves that crashed down upon the world’s seacoasts, tearing away rocks and eroding the land. In its dark bosom, strange life was beginning to form, minute at first, then gradually of a structure now lost even to memory. Upon its farthest reaches birds with enormous wings came to rest, and then flew on.

Agitated by a moon stronger then than now, immense tides ripped across this tremendous ocean, keeping it in a state of torment. Since no great amounts of sand had yet been built, the waters where they reached shore were universally dark, black as nigh and fearful.

Scores of millions of years before man had risen from the shores of the ocean to perceive its grandeur and to venture forth upon its turbulent waves, this eternal sea existed, larger than any other of the earth’s features, vaster than the sister oceans combined, wild, terrifying in its immensity and imperative in its universal role.

How utterly vast it was! How its surges modified the very balance of the earth! How completely lonely it was, hidden in the dark ness of night or burning in the dazzling power of a younger sun than ours.

At recurring intervals the ocean grew cold. Ice piled up along itsextremities, and so pulled vast amounts of water from the sea, so that the wandering shoreline of the continents sometimes jutted miles farther out than before. Then, for a hundred thousand years, the ceaseless ocean would tear at the exposed shelf of the continents, grinding rocks into sand and incubating new life.

Later, the fantastic accumulations of ice would melt, setting cold waters free to join the heaving ocean, and the coasts of the continents would lie submerged. Now the restless energy of the sea deposited upon the ocean bed layers of silt and skeletons and salt. For a million years the ocean would build soil, and then the ice would return; the waters would draw away; and the land would lie exposed. Winds from the north and south would howl across the empty seas and last stupendous waves upon the shattering shore. Thus the ocean continued is alternate building and tearing down.

Master of life, guardian of the shorelines, regulator of temperatures and heaving sculptor of mountains, the great ocean existed.

Copyright 2002 by James A. Michener

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Hawaii 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
LillyParksONBooks More than 1 year ago
I read this about three years ago, and I still enjoy reading it again whenever the urge strikes me. The book fairly accurately tells the story of Hawaii. The more you read the more you can learn about the people, history, and religion of these wonderful islands. The book does not portray Hawaii as a sunny vacation spot for rich americans, it's shown in it's true beautiful form. It starts when the Polynesians came to Hawaii, next other settlers came to Hawaii, and on to almost the present day. It's just a great historical novel. Highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This, as far I'm concerned, is the ultimate 'family saga' novel. Some call it Michener's master work, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. HAWAII follows an organizational pattern familiar to readers of Michener's other huge historical novels. First he tells the geological and prehistoric story of the region that provides the book's setting. Next, he introduces characters from early in that region's history - characters whose descendants people the book's subsequent sections, joined by a new group of immigrants as each of the tale's installments unfolds. The Polynesians - the New England missionaries, whalers, and merchants - the Chinese - and finally, the Japanese, arrive in different eras and under different circumstances. Each of these groups finds its own place, or rather creates its own place, in a society that's both challenged and enriched by Hawaii's ever-increasing racial and cultural diversity. Genealogy ties this vast story's threads together, yet each of its major characters exists as a memorable individual in his or her own right. The author never allows his book's colorful setting, or the exciting backdrop of world events against which local happenings play out, to upstage those characters - nor does he let them blur into each other, which could easily happen with this many for both author and reader to keep straight. But what reader could possibly forget the great Alii Nui Malama, no matter how many descendants of the original Malama wind up sharing her name? Who could forget missionary wife Jerusha Bromley Hale, or the Chinese concubine whose true name her hundreds of descendants never know? HAWAII heads the short list of books that I can read over and over, and always find fresh. A master work, indeed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never has a novel had more of an impact on my life. I've read Hawaii 3 times. Once, when I was a child and could barely understand it. The second time I was a highschool senior and at a crossroad in my life. Finally, I read it for the third time after I just gave in and moved to Maui. Every chapter to me is fasinating! Unlike most people, I loved the first chapter. I loved the long and painful geological development of these islands. It took millions of years for the Hawaii we know and love to look and feel the way it does today. Michener captures this struggle beautifully. I think this chapter sets the stage perfectly for the rest of this epic tale. I believe this is a must read for anybody who wants to know Hawaii. I especially recommend it for anybody who might be considering a move to the islands. This is historical story telling at its finest!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fabulous. It is the history of the Hawaiian Islands in a novel form; the narrative parallels 'real' history so closely that sometimes the only differences are the names Mr. Michener substitutes for real-life characters. I've read 'straight' histories such as Hawaii Pono, which turned out to be the same information in a much less enjoyable style. Unless you need all the historical nitty-gritty, read this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I live in Hawaii, and reading this book has given me a new prospective from which to view these beautiful islands. I have found myself wanting to know more about the people, the real people who built these islands. This book has piqued my historical curiosity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful novel. Although the first chapter felt like it dragged on and on, the next 1000 pages flew by. While the novel is supposed to be ficticious, Michener has obviously done a lot of research. Many of the stories parallel with Hawaii's actual history. This novel is so good that you will find yourself reading into all hours of the night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only person that gives so much true history woven with fiction that becomes a work of art being, "I can't put this down", book. Read it the first time when my children were small 45 years ago & began my love affair with James A. When you look for info in World Books at the time, as other sources, please consult, "Hawaii" by James A. Michener. That makes you sure that info was some of the best history lesson to be learned. Fantastic!!!
Keyman1017 More than 1 year ago
Although obviously prepared in haste, this edition of James Michener's masterpiece is still an excellent, though long, read. Once you steel yourself to gliss over the typographical errors it is more convenient than holding the very large original edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is one of the best I have ever read. I didn't think it would appeal to me, but the wonder of the islands described beautifully got me hooked to the story. Michener sets us with the making of the islands, followed by the narration of the early Polynesian islanders. Then fast forward to the 1800's, and he introduces the religious history and the missionaries. He blends in cultures of Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian, and Hawaiian very well, and gives us a well developed character for each ethnicity to follow. I look forward to reading Michener's other novels!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Michener historical fiction novel with a worthy subject.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another of Michener's fascinating epics about a specific place. I read Hawaii during my first visit there. It's a great story, with enough about each time period to present a fairly balanced view of the islands' history.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Long as hell, but well worth reading. His characterization of Abner Hale, the original missionary, is excellent, even though the person himself is dreadful. I was given this as a Christmas gift prior to going to Hawaii for the first time, and it should make the trip more interesting.
bigorangecat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a true "guilty pleasure." I only read it once and won't read it again, but I gotta admit, it made an impact. Quite enhanced the movie.
Iudita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lets face it - you have to be a certain personality to enjoy a book like this. Someone who pays attention to detail. I thought this book was fantastic. When you turn the last page, you really feel like you've accomplished something. Like you have just been on a big journey. This book is certainly an investment of your time and attention and it is very well worth it.
LillyParks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Great Historical Fiction....Lilly ParksI read this about three years ago, and I still enjoy reading it again whenever the urge strikes me. The book fairly accurately tells the story of Hawaii. The more you read the more you can learn about the people, history, and religion of these wonderful islands. The book does not portray Hawaii as a sunny vacation spot for rich americans, it's shown in it's true beautiful form. It starts when the Polynesians came to Hawaii, next other settlers came to Hawaii, and on to almost the present day. It's just a great historical novel. Highly recommend.
Suuze on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book long ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. Michener's research, as always, was thorough, and made this most enjoyable book a learning tool as well. I made it my goal back then (20 years ago) to see Hawaii in person, and have done so many times. It was this book that helped me understand (as best as possible) the native Hawaiian culture and it's people, making my trips there everlastingly rewarding.I have read it three time over the years and will read it again.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michener writes in a clunky style and with mostly wooden dialogue--and yet I kept turning the pages and found this an amazing reading experience. I've read that Michener was an inspiration for both Rutherford and Uris, and I can see the family resemblance in novels of theirs such as Sarum and Exodus. (Even if Exodus was published before Hawaii.) By selectively looking at certain families and individuals, Michener attempts to tell the story of a place, the sweep of its history, and in all ways this novel screams epic. It's not a great book--but it is entertaining and at times thought-provoking.The opening phrase is "millions upon millions of years ago" and the first brief section, "From the Boundless Deep" tells of the formation of the Hawaiian islands and how life took hold there. "From the Sun-Swept Lagoon" tells of the peopling of the island in 813AD by stone age people from Bora Bora, the ancestors of the Kanakoas, whose knowledge of navigation and astronomy allowed them to travel thousands of miles--bringing with them breadfruit, coconut, taro, banana--and slaves. The next section, "From the Farm of Bitterness" was where I became enraptured with the book. It tells of the coming a thousand years later of the American Missionaries from New England in 1822. The later sections are more complex as other families, other cultures are woven into the narrative, and so those sections feel more dry and journalistic to me, and rarely do individual characters in those sections stand out. But here we have a more stark clash of cultures, between the Pagan Hawaiians and the Christian Americans--as well as the character I find the most fascinating in the book because of his tragic contradictions--Abner Hale, who is a mix of admirable, deplorable, and exasperating. When Abner opens his church, he chooses a slave as its first member and dares preach against the institution to the most powerful in the land, telling them this slave, this "foul corpse" has a soul equal to theirs. Yet to the end of his days he's incapable of seeing even Christian converts among the Hawaiians as anything but "heathen" and opposes intermarriage. He lovingly translates the Bible into Hawaiian--but won't allow his children to learn the language. The next section, "From the Starving Village" picks up in China, and deals with the settling of Chinese into the land brought in as plantation workers. Char Nyuk Tsin is the indomitable matriarch of the Kee clan and this section takes us through fire, plague, the leper colony at Molokai and how sugar was the driving force behind the coup against the Hawaiian monarchy and American annexation. "From the Inland Sea" brings in the Japanese through following the Sakagawas--and this was my second favorite part of the book, and among the most moving, as Michener depicts Pearl Harbor and the fight of Japanese Americans for full citizenship as soldiers fighting in Europe and then through one character takes us through a tour of the rest of Polynesia contrasting it to Hawaii. Michener lived through this era, serving in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II--which might be one reason why he can bring the time and place so vividly to life. The book ends with "The Golden Man" taking us from the end of World War II to the brink of statehood in 1959. Even that late in the book there were some insights and depictions that surprised me and a deft use of irony. One thing I didn't think worked. A couple of times in previous sections there was a line where the narrator intrudes with an "I" statement. There's a page studded with this in the beginning of the last section, and then the last few paragraphs reveal this to be the "memoir" of one of the characters. I don't think that fits the personality and arc of the character, and I would have preferred the God's-eye omniscience had been kept to the last. Although it does make me think how many of the opinions expressed in the novel should be seen as Michener
hellbent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Since Michener was famous for his research, the historical authenticity should be reliable.
LibrarysCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Michener book that I read and I loved it so much that I have read all of the rest of them with only a few exceptions. The quality writing makes it seem you are a part of the story.
mccin68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Epic span covering the creation of the island from volcanic forces to it's induction as a State. The population of the island begins with explorers from Bora Bora making a treacherous excurion to find new land. they bring with them their native plants, traditions and Gods to the desolate island. The second section covers the arrival of the american missionaries who came to dominate the island. Hale, Whipple, Hoxworth and Hewlett and their wives brought catholicism, western values, landownership and disease helping to destroy the rich polynesian culture.
alexis3700 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first foray into Michener. All I can say--WOW! What a fantastic epic saga! I love that I learned so much about those magical islands and the people who discovered it, changed it, and brought life and survival to it. This was not a hard book to read, although it was quite lengthy. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who wants to actually know and understand the genesis of the people there.
rampaginglibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first James Michener book i ever read, i think i was in the eighth grade or something, and it totally sucked me in. Over 1000 pages--took me about a week to read. The total history of Hawaii from formation of the island itself to modern days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Oh ."she said "iys a pretyy island."