William Ellis' classic of Pacific literature, A Narrative of a Tour Through Hawai'i, stands unrivalled as an account of Hawaiian life in the early nineteenth century. With his close interest in native life, his sympathy for a people undergoing vast social change, and his keen eye for accurate detail, Ellis was not the typical missionary or Western visitor to the islands.
Through his account we meet such personages as Liholiho, Kuakini, and John Young. We learn of recent historical events, still fresh in the minds of those he interviewed: the death of Cook, the battles of Kamehameha the Great, and the explosive eruption of Kilauea. Ellis vividly presents the daily lives of commoners and ali'i alike, their homes and heiau, kapu and hula, clothing and sports and medicine and marriages. We journey up Mauna Loa with Ellis and his companions, the first non- Hawaiians to enter Pele's sacred realm, and see the extraordinary landscape that is now Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
Always the ethnologist, Ellis packs his narrative with vital information for students of traditional Hawai'i, and takes readers back in time to witness a vanished age.