Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A visit to Hawai’i gains intriguing dimension with this fine book as a background. Haley makes an accessible, engrossing read out of the complex series of collisions and confluences involving native and Western cultures that resonate in the islands to this day. He possesses keen insights into the personalities, including Hawai’ian royalty as well as missionaries, capitalists and politicians. This book deepened my understanding of the huge streaks of tragedy, exploitation and injustice that mark Hawai’i’s past, and gave extra meaning to stops I made at historically significant places including Iolani Palace in Honolulu and Hulihe’e Palace in the town of Kona.

— From John


The most recent state to join the union, Hawaii is the only one to have once been a royal kingdom. After its "discovery" by Captain Cook in the late 18th Century, Hawaii was fought over by European powers determined to take advantage of its position as the crossroads of the Pacific. The arrival of the first missionaries marked the beginning of the struggle between a native culture with its ancient gods, sexual libertinism and rites of human sacrifice, and the rigid values of the Calvinists. While Hawaii's royal rulers adopted Christianity, they also fought to preserve their ancient ways. But the success of the ruthless American sugar barons sealed their fate and in 1893, the American Marines overthrew Lili'uokalani, the last queen of Hawaii.

James L. Haley's Captive Paradise is the story of King Kamehameha I, The Conqueror, who unified the islands through terror and bloodshed, but whose dynasty succumbed to inbreeding; of Gilded Age tycoons like Claus Spreckels who brilliantly outmaneuvered his competitors; of firebrand Lorrin Thurston, who was determined that Hawaii be ruled by whites; of President McKinley, who presided over the eventual annexation of the islands. Not for decades has there been such a vibrant and compelling portrait of an extraordinary place and its people.

About the Author

JAMES L. HALEY is a critically acclaimed historian and biographer. His books have been praised by Publishers Weekly who called Passionate Nation: An Epic History of Texas "Outstanding." USA Today called his book Wolf: The Lives of Jack London "fascinating," and The Wall Street Journal said that Haley "surpasses Irving Stone."
Product Details
ISBN: 9781250070395
ISBN-10: 1250070392
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: December 8th, 2015
Pages: 464
Language: English