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Unfamiliar fishes von Sarah Vowell
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Unfamiliar fishes (2011. Auflage)

von Sarah Vowell

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1,2778111,259 (3.59)141
From the bestselling author of "The Wordy Shipmates" comes an examination of Hawaii's emblematic and exceptional history, retracing the impact of New England missionaries who began arriving in the early 1800s to remake the island paradise into a version of New England.
Mitglied:cwells
Titel:Unfamiliar fishes
Autoren:Sarah Vowell
Info:New York : Riverhead Books, 2011.
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
Bewertung:
Tags:American history

Werk-Details

Unfamiliar Fishes von Sarah Vowell

  1. 10
    Hawaii von James A. Michener (jellyfishjones)
    jellyfishjones: If your interest in Hawaiian history and culture was piqued by Unfamiliar Fishes, this classic of historical fiction will provide additional perspective.
  2. 00
    Mowee: A History of Maui the Magic Isle von Cummins E. Speakman Jr. (Copperskye)
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Sareh Vowell's history is like Melville's beautifully unfocused fiction. The asides and discursions can be more entertaining than the basic narrative. This time, though, Vowell is a bit too lost in her research on Hawaii to draw effective modern-day parallels, and too long in the library to guide us through the current scene. I'm moving along to Gavin Daws' "Shoal of Time," the more conventional history that I brought back from Oahu years ago, or Mark Twain's picaresque dispatches from the Sandwich Islands.
  rynk | Jul 11, 2021 |
audiobook - funny/quirky/interesting, though the various narrators were at times comparatively too quiet/too loud so it could've been mixed/produced better to even out the volume levels. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The day Unfamiliar Fishes came out, it was downloaded to my Kindle. I loved Sarah Vowell's previous books, especially Assassination Vacation. Sarah Vowell has turned into a sort of deep sticky underbelly of American History sort of historian whose books feel like long episodes of The American Life (and I love This American Life). I foist them on everyone I see -- "Want to learn bizarre facts of American History? Read these books!"

I liked Unfamiliar Fishes, a book on the history of Hawai'i from 1778-1900, but the subject matter is so soul-crushingly depressing the upbeat sarcastic tone of the text clashed with the actual text at times. The narrative begins with the death of Captain Cook in 1778 at the then-named "Sandwich Islands" for doing horrible things to the local natives and then discusses what Hawai'i was like at that time: not a peaceful paradise. The islands had just been forged into a Kingdom after a bloody civil war. The society was highly stratified with bloodlines of chiefs and a feudalistic system of land division. Men and women were segregated from one another at meal times and women were forbidden to eat certain foods under kapu laws. They had their own Gods -- Ku the War God gets prominent mention for his prominent temple. Then the missionaries came with their Jesus and their Bibles in 1820 and everything changed.

Everything would have changed anyway. Had it not been the missionaries it would have been someone else. The missionaries at least came with the printing press and a zeal for learning. They translated the Bible into a new written form of Hawai'ian and, from there, others wrote down all the chants and religion and myths and culture they could to preserve it. The missionaries came to save the Hawai'ians, which meant stamping out the local culture, shoving New England Protestantism on it, and persuading the high Chiefs to do away with various bits of their culture to make it more "modern." Granted, by the time the missionaries came, the Hawai'ians were starting to dismantle some of their culture anyway, so perhaps some of it is moot, but it would have taken a different course.

Then the shipping came, and then the sugar plantations, and the imported workers, and the round trips from newly established and totally hot San Francisco, and then with it came the smallpox and the malaria and the dysentery and everything else that could wipe out a local population. In time, the US Navy started eying Hawai'i as a Pacific port, especially with the sexy Pearl Harbor. Enterprising grandchildren of the original missionaries decided to stage a coup, and then decided to get Hawai'i annexed to the US to avoid tariffs on sugar. When Congress voted against the treaty of annexation due to the protest of the islanders, Pres. William McKinley decided it was good old "American Manifest Destiny" and figured out a back door to get annexation through anyway.

The sugar plantations are gone, now. And there's a huge revival of local culture -- a good thing.

Why did I give this book 3 stars? Mostly because Goodreads won't allow me to set 3.5. This is a good book, but not a great book. It does feel like a long episode of This American Life, but not one that sticks in the memory. I also felt terrible and depressed at the end because it's a terrible and depressing subject, and no amount of sarcasm and no number of funny stories about insane Mormons who are trying to become King of the Pacific make up for how sad and depressing the story is. It reminded me strongly of George Carlin's bit, "Religious Lift." It goes like this:

"Like I say, religion is a lift in your shoe, man. If you need it, cool. Just don't let me wear your shoes if I don't want 'em and we don't have to go down and nail lifts onto the native's feet!" ( )
  multiplexer | Jun 20, 2021 |
Sarah Vowell always manages to take what should be dry, boring sections of history and enliven therm far beyond what I could reasonably expect.

This time the subject is the history of Hawaii, and I can confidently asset that prior to starting this book the extent of my knowledge in that area amounted to "it didn't used to be a state and now it is." I know much more about how all this came to be, and the only emotion I can muster is sadness.

It's a tight narrative arc, the American interaction with the islands. It took less than a century to get from religious do-gooders genuinely concerned about the Hawaiians to a cabal of businessmen deciding their profits outweighed all other concerns and forcibly overthrew the elected government. I'm sure

The more history I learn, the more I suspect that I don't (and, in many cases, can't) know about any given topic. There are so many layers, characters and narratives swirling around any event that to discover one only inevitably leads you to several more. This is not a reason to discourage such pursuits, merely a reminder about their ultimate lack of finality. Still, the best we can get is closer, and the only way to do that is to keep trying. ( )
  kaitwallas | May 21, 2021 |
I have to admit I listened to the last third of this book at triple speed, which oddly enough didn't make her voice sound any stranger. I enjoy her take on history, but I think I need to switch over to reading her books as opposed to listening - her celebrity casting doesn't really bring much extra to the experience, since the stars read such short snippets. Also I never seem to retain any of the information imparted in her books, although now I understand why you get rice AND macaroni salad as your two sides at the Hawaiian BBQ restaurant in town. ( )
  jlweiss | Apr 23, 2021 |
It’s a fun book, which is reason enough to admire it. As a resident of Hawaii and a descendant of both natives and missionaries (I stem from Abner Wilcox, the “Connecticut-­born proselytizer” mentioned on Page 84), I’m probably not supposed to have a good time when contemplating the near-extinction of the native population. I’m not supposed to chuckle about the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, or the corrupt and inept King Kalakaua, or the depraved (though technically legal) antics leading up to Hawaii’s annexation. Greed, death, cultural desecration, manifest destiny — what a lark! But with Vowell as tour guide it does, at times, manage to be just that.
 
Freely admitting her own prejudices, Vowell gives contemporary relevance to the past as she weaves in, for instance, Obama's boyhood memories. Outrageous and wise-cracking, educational but never dry, this book is a thought-provoking and entertaining glimpse into the U.S.'s most unusual state and its unanticipated twists on the familiar story of Americanization.
hinzugefügt von sduff222 | bearbeitenPublishers Weekly (Dec 20, 2010)
 

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (2 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Vowell, SarahHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Armisen, FredErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hader, BillErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hodgman, JohnErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Keener, CatherineErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Norton, EdwardErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Reeves, KeanuErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Rudd, PaulErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Rudolph, MayaErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Slattery, JohnErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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From the bestselling author of "The Wordy Shipmates" comes an examination of Hawaii's emblematic and exceptional history, retracing the impact of New England missionaries who began arriving in the early 1800s to remake the island paradise into a version of New England.

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