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Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure

Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure

Scritto da Julia Flynn Siler

Narrato da Joyce Bean


Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure

Scritto da Julia Flynn Siler

Narrato da Joyce Bean

valutazioni:
4/5 (18 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
10 ore
Pubblicato:
Jan 3, 2012
ISBN:
9781455849574
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

First colonized around 200 A.D. by intrepid Polynesian islanders, Hawaii existed for hundreds of years in splendid isolation. Foreigners did not visit the islands until 1788, when Captain Cook, looking for the fabled Northwest Passage, stumbled upon this nation with its own belief system and culture. Three decades later, fourteen Calvinist missionaries left Boston bound for Hawaii, and when they arrived they converted the royal family to Christianity, and set up missionary schools where English was taught.

A thriving monarchy had ruled over Hawaii for generations. Taro fields and fish ponds had long sustained native Hawaiians but sugar plantations had been gradually subsuming them. This fractured, vulnerable Hawaii was the country that Queen Lili'uokalani, or Lili'u, inherited when she came to power at the end of the nineteenth century. Her predecessor had signed away many of the monarchy's rights, but while Lili'u was trying to put into place a constitution that would reinstate them, other factions were plotting annexation. With the help of the American envoy, the USS Boston steamed into Honolulu harbor, and Marines landed and marched to the palace, inciting the Queen's overthrow.

The annexation of Hawaii was extremely controversial; the issue caused heated debates in the Senate and President Cleveland gave a strongly worded speech opposing it. This was the first time America had reached beyond the borders of the continental U.S. in an act of imperialism. It was not until President McKinley was elected and the Spanish-American War erupted, that Hawaii became a critical strategic asset, and annexation finally passed Congress in 1898.
Pubblicato:
Jan 3, 2012
ISBN:
9781455849574
Formato:
Audiolibro


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  • (5/5)
    "They came to do good and did well."A fascinating and detailed narrative account of the final years of the Hawaiian Monarchy. Siler does a quick run through of the first western contact, Captain Cook, and then the arrival of the missionaries, who brought not only religion, but reading, writing and printing presses. Their decendants, however, had more commerce than God in mind, and big sugar, by various means, managed to eventually gain control of the islands. The book focuses on King Kalakaua, Claus Spreckels and the descendants of the missionaries, the passing of the Bayonet Constitution, the overthrow and imprisonment of Queen Lili'uokalani, and her final attempts to regain her throne and her Kingdom before the islands were eventually annexed by the US in 1898. A moving, sympathetic story, well told.
  • (4/5)
    The history of Hawaii from earliest times through the take over by the United States in the late 1800's. The beginning of imperialist USA and the loss of a culture are sad, but a fascinating look at the people who shaped this state. A great example of history as story. Good on audio.
  • (5/5)
    A fascinating, richly detailed, and vividly told chronicle of how greedy white businessmen conspired to depose the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii and overthrow the sovereign government, leading to annexation by the United States in 1898.
  • (3/5)
    I'd known that Hawaii had been an independent country before becoming an American territory, and I can even remember when it became the 50th state. But I hadn't known the machinations behind the annexation.It's a complex story compressed into less than a century. The Kingdom of Hawaii was formed in 1810 when Kamahaha I unified first the Island of Hawaii and eventually all the Hawaiian Islands under a single government. Shortly after the Kingdom's establishment, Christian missionaries arrived and were highly successful in converting the native population. They were soon followed by entrepreneurs who recognized the value of the region's sugar cane to the burgeoning United States. By 1887, the monarchy was so far in debt to the sugar kings that King Kalakaua was forced to sign a new constitution that lessened his own power and the rights of the native Hawaiians.When his sister and successor, Queen Lili'uokalani announced in 1893 that she planned to implement a new constitution restoring those lost powers and rights, a group of businessmen of mainly European ancestry fomented a revolution to depose her and establish the Republic of Hawaii. But within five years, the new government engineered annexation by the United States rather than risk becoming part of either the British Empire or the growing German Empire.It's a fascinating story but, alas, a sloppily written book.
  • (4/5)
    Having known little about Hawaii I found this to be an great history of a state. Beginning with the founding of the Sandwich Islands to 1917 and the death of the queen the history has been researched in depth. With the coming of Christian missionaries native Hawaiians begin to lose their culture and their kingdom. Much as was done to the Native American on the continent was done on the islands. Best line of the book " they came to do good and did well.Another look at the history not told in history classes, this time focusing on the sugar industry and shipping and the total disregard for the native culture and society. Recommended
  • (5/5)
    "They came to do good and did well."A fascinating and detailed narrative account of the final years of the Hawaiian Monarchy. Siler does a quick run through of the first western contact, Captain Cook, and then the arrival of the missionaries, who brought not only religion, but reading, writing and printing presses. Their decendants, however, had more commerce than God in mind, and big sugar, by various means, managed to eventually gain control of the islands. The book focuses on King Kalakaua, Claus Spreckels and the descendants of the missionaries, the passing of the Bayonet Constitution, the overthrow and imprisonment of Queen Lili'uokalani, and her final attempts to regain her throne and her Kingdom before the islands were eventually annexed by the US in 1898. A moving, sympathetic story, well told.
  • (5/5)
    I found this book to be a fascinating look at Hawaiian history and the reign of Lili'uokalani and her family. Siler does such a good job with the characters and the story just seems to flow. If you are interested in Hawaii then this is the book for you. I won this from Goodreads.
  • (4/5)
    Very interesting story but poorly told. Not very engaging and questionable research. However the use of diary entries was intriguing and it is a good place to start a conversation on the Inited States’ questionable a question of Hawaii.
  • (4/5)
    When you stop to think about it, it's pretty insane that Hawai‘i is a state at all. I mean – it's not even in the Americas. There was no cultural link between the islands and the United States. And it wasn't like the Wild West – land that you just naturally stumbled onto while expanding into your manifest destiny. You really had to head out there into the middle of the Pacific and look for the place.And many did, quite assiduously. Guidebooks and histories will tell you that the fiftieth state was ‘added’ in 1959, but until recently the rather ugly annexation process underlying this euphemism was not so easy to come across. ‘I am ashamed of the whole affair,’ wrote Grover Cleveland, under whose second presidential term much of the process played out – though he was out of office by the time annexation was finalised in 1898. Julia Flynn Siler's approach, in common with a lot of more recent writers, is to see the whole affair as a curtain-raiser for the growth of American imperialism.What happened to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was one of the most audacious land grabs of the Gilded Age, in which 1.8 million acres of land now worth billions of dollars was seized from native Hawaiians and claimed by American businessmen.These native Hawaiians from across the islands had been united under one ruling monarchy towards the end of the eighteenth century, and Siler's book examines the territory's annexation through the story of its last monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani. Educated in American-run missionary schools and descended from a long line of Hawaiian ali‘i or nobles, she was well-versed in both Western and native traditions and was popular among her subjects.Lili‘u was not under any illusions about her kingdom, and she probably knew what was coming quite early – she had grown up in a Hawai‘i already under considerable pressure from external corporate and military interests. The islands' wealth was built on sugar, and the biggest landowners were all either foreigners or the descendants of foreigners (known in Hawai‘i as haole). Principally, that meant the descendants of missionaries, whose ‘conversion from church-sponsored altruism to brisk mercantilism’ was so often observed that it had led to a cynical local saying: ‘They came to do good and did well.’The most powerful of these sugar barons had quite colossal influence. The German-American Claus Spreckels – known as the Sugar King, or ‘His Royal Saccharinity’ – owned fully half the country's public debt, and was also a major personal creditor for the royal family. As it happens, Spreckels supported Hawaiian independence, but most of the other haole businessmen wanted more and more ties with the United States, which (if the import tariffs could be overcome) was a stupendously lucrative market for their sugar.Events moved with gathering speed. First, the cash-strapped monarch was forced to sign a so-called ‘bayonet constitution’, surrendering a great deal of royal authority and giving more power to non-native landowners. Soon there was a US warship parked permanently off Honolulu, just in case American business interests felt threatened. The US was already leasing Pearl Harbor: it was recognised that Hawai‘i was not just the main stopover on the trade route from North America to Asia, it was also the key to military control of the Pacific. Hawkish types in Washington started talking openly about annexing this completely peaceful, independent kingdom – Secretary of State John W Foster, for instance:The Hawaiian pear is now fully ripe and this is the golden hour for the United States to pluck it.The atmosphere became increasingly polarised, with every little disagreement turning into a major political division and militias forming around both pro-royalty and pro-annexation groups. One such confrontation in 1893 served as the pretext to send in a detachment of US Marines – in order, they said, to protect the safety and property of American lives on Hawai‘i. The action soon crystallised into a coup d'état. Opposition groups, backed by the US forces, declared a Republic and had the queen confined to house arrest. The Hawaiian flag was taken down and replaced by the Stars and Stripes; one observer recorded, with a complete absence of irony, the ‘glorious sight’ of the ‘ensign of Freedom floating over the tower of the Government Building’ whose original incumbents had been arrested and jailed.Lili‘uokalani signed a document of surrender, believing that Washington would surely reverse the decision once it learned what local troops had done. And the reaction in the US varied a lot – the Fresno Expositor wrote dismissively and racistly that the islanders had ‘dethroned the fat squaw’, but the New York Times ran the story under the headlineA SHAMEFUL CONSPIRACY IN WHICH THE UNITED STATES WAS MADE TO PLAY A PART__________________The Political Crime of the CenturyBut by then it was too late to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Annexation followed in 1898, and – long after Lili‘uokalani had died more-or-less penniless in Honolulu – statehood, ultimately, came in the 1950s.Some recent gestures towards this awkward past have been made. Clinton offered a formal apology to Hawaiians on the centenary of the coup in 1993. Various versions of the so-called Akaka Bill, which would give native Hawaiians similar recognition and rights as American Indians, have been proposed to Congress since 2000, and some parts of these bills have been accepted.Lili‘u's political legacy is slight – she was there at the wrong time, and her modest gifts of statesmanship were nowhere near equal to the occasion. She made a good figurehead, however, reacting with great dignity to an impossible situation; she spoke well on behalf of her people and her tradition, translated Hawaiian myths, and left a hugely popular repertoire of her own Hawaiian verses and songs, including some of the most famous Hawaiian music such as Aloha ‘Oe.Her story is respectfully and carefully told by Siler, in a book with no especial narrative flair but with a great handle on the period and the material, and an admirable sensitivity to Hawai‘i's native culture and language. There was loads in here I knew nothing about – well worth a look for anyone interested in Polynesian culture, American imperialism, Gilded Age politics, and for anyone else who wants the lowdown on the Aloha State.
  • (4/5)
    Quite a decent account of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, at least as far as I can tell. Not enjoyable to read about, but certainly offers great insight into the schemes that brought Hawaii into the American orbit.
  • (3/5)
    Started out great. Got bogged down in explanations. But still a fascinating subject. I liked Strange Fishes better, more accessible. Hawaii is such an awesome place with a rich history. On visiting Kauai I was surprised to discover how much "separatist" leanings there still are. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
  • (4/5)
    The author manages to make this era of Hawaii's history come alive with deep insights. Also provides the reader sufficient background to get the full perspective on the reasons of why things turned out the way they did. I won't look at Hawaii the same way again.
  • (3/5)
    I'm not sure how accurate this book is since I've read that the author doesn't speak Hawaiian but it was still very interesting. I didn't really know anything about Hawaii's history previously and I think this was a good introduction.
  • (4/5)
    For someone researching Hawaiian history or the American imperial impulse, this would be an invaluable resource. For general reading - well, it's a history book, and it reads like one. It's a very sympathetic portrait of Lili'uokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawai'i, and of the political maneuvering that got the islands annexed by the United States without either government actually wanting to do so. There were occasional oddnesses in the prose that seemed to indicate a slipshod copyediting job, but nothing that impeded my enjoyment of the book.
  • (3/5)
    Lost Kingdom by Julia Flynn is a look at the Hawaiian monarchy through the life of Lydia K. Dominis, also known as Queen Lili'uokalani.Siler outlines how Western influences both in terms of the British navy, Christian missionaries, the sugar barons and later the United States shaped Hawaiian culture. The loosely knit chiefdoms were consolidated into a monarchy but it never really got a chance to take hold. By the time Lydia was Queen Lili'uokalani, the monarchy was mostly a figurehead of the sugar industry but she did try to bring it back into power with the backing of a constitution.For anyone who has visited Hawaii the book is a good outline of the recent history. It helps to explain how Hawaii's culture has evolved. The egalley though was lacking the map, illustrations and portraits that would have really helped to bring the book alive.Although the book is primarily a biography of Queen Lili'uokalani, it tries to include information on all the outside influences in Hawaii's cultural evolution. While interesting, they weaken the coherency of biography by taking focus away from her life, experiences and outlook on life. The book never really gets into her head.There also is the perhaps inevitable haole bias to the book. Whenever there is a recorded interaction between a Hawaiian and a haole, the book takes the haole's point of view. I realize most of the record was made by haoles but some discussion of what the Hawaiian experience, especially early on, was, should have been included.
  • (2/5)
    I got this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thanks!

    I am going to agree with those who found the book written in a disorganized fashion and in a way that makes a fascinating part of Pacific history utterly boring.

    My first main problem was not the language that Siler uses, but more her idea structure (or lack there of). On page 49, she tells us about a ball where the future queen dances. Reading this paragraph, I didn't think much about this dancing. The following paragraph, though, starts with a sentence that states that there is no evidence that she cheated on her husband. What?! So now, reading this, I started to wonder why anyone would say this. Were there people out there that claimed that she had indeed cheated on her husband? Why, what evidence did they have? Siler does this over and over, where non sequiturs pepper the narration without intention or humor. I wondered if there was a copy-paste rearrangement problem.

    My second main problem was that Siler worships Lili'u, even though the books proves in many parts that Lili'u (and her brother who was king before her) was an inadequate, ill-equipped monarch with some serious petty jealousy issues. There is a lot of royalty-worship, but the facts point at a narrow-minded, self-centered monarchy. It is easy to be sorry and sad after the fact, but what they did during the sugar-king takeover of their kingdom is nothing courageous or thoughtful. One can argue away many things, saying poor little kingdom was not worldly enough to deal with the cunning white imperialists and capitalists, but at some point some responsibility has to fall on the leaders and their bad judgement and lack of leadership qualities. There are many examples around the globe where the poor little people had very wise leaders who eventually resisted and sometimes were successful. Lili'u lived in comfort her whole life and didn't resist much. (I only read this book about the history of Hawaii, so I may not be very well-informed, but the point remains that the book is written in a way that holds the queen in high respect, for not apparent reason.)

    In the end I finished the book, but I complained plenty as it dragged on. I finished it, because I was interested in the history and the facts, but perhaps I should have read something a bit less biased.
  • (4/5)
    The life story of Lili’uokalani, the last queen of Hawai’i, deftly frames the narrative of this diligently researched and accessible history.The islands of Hawai’i, a Polynesian kingdom of great beauty, were united by King Kamehameha about 1810 as an early constitutional monarchy. Western merchants and missionaries introduced Christianity - and diseases against which the Hawaiians had no defense. While careful not to demonize, Stiler shows how the ambition and greed of the sons and daughters of missionaries, mercenaries and merchants stripped native Hawai’ians of their sovereignity, and reduced the royalty of the islands to mere figureheads. America, heartily suspicious of monarchies in general, saw the islands as an economic gem, and a stepping stone to the contested territories of Polynesia and southeast Asia. Sugar manufacturers wanted land, and a free hand in “managing” labor and resources. The annexation of the islands as first a territory and then a state was the final step in a concerted western attempt to profit from the islands, and is a sobering reminder of America’s imperialist history.
  • (3/5)
    As America expanded beyond its original 13 colonies, almost all new states and territories were added through treaties, purchases or by claiming land the U.S. government felt no one owned. Texans will tell you their state was an independent country before annexation although Mexico refused to acknowledge its independence.Then there’s Hawaii. The chain of islands, annexed in 1898, was originally a series of island kingdoms before being unified in 1810 under Kamehameha I after a series of battles. Seven kings and one queen ruled the island chain before the monarchy crumbled under an influx of foreigners who invested heavily in the country.Julia Flynn Siler’s Lost Kingdom details the end of Hawaiian independence in a fact-filled book that falls just short of a must-read.The story of Hawaii’s downfall is readymade for Hollywood – kings and queens fighting for their people, villainous sugar-cane magnates, midnight coups, secret messages encoded in songs. The facts as Siler lays them out should be a more compelling read than they are. Perhaps Lost Kingdom’s shortcomings are only apparent when judged against other history books, such as those by Erik Larsen. And it may be unfair to judge Siler’s work against Larsen. The two writers have different styles, and a reader’s personal preference may determine which comes out on top.Siler begins her tale of Hawaii before its last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani takes the throne. The book explains the Hawaiian acceptance of visiting missionaries and lays the groundwork for what should be a peaceful future.To the Hawaiians’ detriment, the foreign population brings disease for which the native population has no natural defense. The native population begins to decrease as Europeans and Americans increase their numbers. Marriages between Hawaiians and outsides further dilute the native population.As children raised by missionaries come of age, economic forces begin to tug at Hawaii. The islands can grow sugar and foreign investors are quick to start building empires and making their fortunes. When the crown needs to borrow money, it is foreign loans that shore up the throne. And with those loans come requests for favors and political power.Siler portrays an almost inevitable march to Hawaii’s subjugation to outside influence. By 1887, King Kalākaua is forced to sign what becomes known as the Bayonet Constitution. The new constitution moves power from the King to his cabinet and legislature. Foreign resident aliens could now vote as could Hawaiians who met economic and literacy requirements. Asian immigrants, who made up a substantial part of the islands’ population, saw their right to vote taken away.Lost Kingdom wants to place Lili’uokalani as its central figure, but history dictates other figures take center stage before Lili’uokalani gains the throne. Siler is rightly fascinated by Hawaii’s queen (whose authorship of one of Hawaii’s most famous songs “Aloha Oe” is among her many accomplishments), but that fascination sometimes leads to a less detailed portrayal of other monarchs or the sugar barons. The book is not an objective look at Hawaii’s history; Siler tells the story from Hawaii’s point of view. Claus Spreckels, Lorrin Thurston and other foreigners are clear villains, motivated by profit and not caring about the Hawaiian people. After reading Lost Kingdom, it’s hard to argue otherwise, particularly in the case of Thurston who seemed to take personal pleasure in destroying the monarchy. One suspects another side of the story exists.Lost Kingdom is a worthwhile read for those interested in Hawaiian history and culture, America’s expansion and how less powerful governments and people can be swept away by an economic tide. It’s not a perfect book and readers truly interested in Hawaii should seek out a more balanced book, but Siler’s story is interesting.