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From the bestselling author of The Wordy
Shipmates, an examination of Hawaii, the place where
Manifest Destiny got a sunburn.
Many think of
1776 as the defining year of American history, when we
became a nation devoted to the pursuit of happiness through
self- government. In Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell
argues that 1898 might be a year just as defining, when, in
an orgy of imperialism, the United States annexed Hawaii,
Puerto Rico, and Guam, and invaded first Cuba, then the
Philippines, becoming an international superpower
Among the developments in
these outposts of 1898, Vowell considers the Americanization
of Hawaii the most intriguing. From the arrival of New
England missionaries in 1820, their goal to Christianize the
local heathen, to the coup d'Ã©tat of the missionaries' sons
in 1893, which overthrew the Hawaiian queen, the events
leading up to American annexation feature a cast of
beguiling, and often appealing or tragic, characters:
whalers who fired cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them
their God-given right to whores, an incestuous princess
pulled between her new god and her brother-husband, sugar
barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last
Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha
'Oe" serenaded the first Hawaiian president of the United
States during his 2009 inaugural parade.
trademark smart-alecky insights and reporting, Vowell lights
out to discover the off, emblematic, and exceptional history
of the fiftieth state, and in so doing finds America, warts
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