Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book #13: Unfamiliar Fishes

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

So I think I have finally read every Sarah Vowell book I can get my hands on. This, her newest publication, focuses on the history of how Hawaii became part of the United States.

Every time I think about Hawaii, I think about beautiful beaches, surfers, friendly women with lots of flowers, pineapples, Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and hammocks swaying in the breeze. The pretty side of Hawaii. The happy side.

Vowell's book speaks about the uglier side that most Americans don't want to think about - the way that we forced the Hawaiian queen to step down from her throne so we could take over, how the missionaries who brought the Hawaiian natives the gospel also brought American diseases which wiped out entire colonies, and most importantly, the fact that most native Hawaiians, to this day, resent being referred to as "Americans."

I was born in 1980, so I've always thought of Hawaii as being part of the U.S., but it hasn't been that way for very long - just since 1959. My mom was 9 years old, and my dad was 12. Dad said he remembers receiving new textbooks with updated maps of the United States when he was in 8th grade. Fascinating.


Jane said...

Oooo, very fascinating. I did not know all of that!