Monday, August 27, 2012

Lost Kingdom by Julia Flynn Siler

Majesty and drama are resplendent in Julia Flynn Siler’s Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, The Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure. The inevitable culture clash of the welcoming, easygoing Polynesians with the fervent missionaries and cut-throat capitalists of the west brought about a hybrid population still evident in the Hawaii of today.
Fascinating stories and riveting characters abound in this tale of a once-independent island kingdom. After Captain Cook landed on Hawaii’s beaches in the late 1770s, a steady torrent of European visitors streamed to the islands. Not long after, missionaries arrived with conversion on their minds. Soon to follow were the entrepreneurs, ready to take advantage of Hawaii’s rich natural resources to make their fortunes in sugar cane and tropical fruit.
Claus Spreckles was one of the first moguls to make millions in Hawaii’s sugar industry, ruthless in his pursuit of purchasing land from the royal family. It was a quick payday for the cash-poor but land-rich Hawaiian monarchs. Public sentiment began to turn against the imperial family as they sold more and more acreage to speculators and capitalists in the sugar and pineapple industries. While they gained quick cash, the sovereigns began a decline marked by illness, early death and financial calamity for the family.
The onslaught of capitalism and western greed in the 1800s radically affected the cultural make-up of the islands. Immigrants flocked to Hawaii in pursuit of work and were hired as cheap labor on plantations. The islands’ original inhabitants often fell victim to the excesses Hawaii’s verdant richness provided. Ultimately the hospitable nature of the Hawaiian people contributed to their demise when the kingdom was declared a republic and later annexed by the United States.
Check our catalog for other Polynesian treasures such as Aphrodite’s Island by Anne Selmond and James D. Houston’s A Queen’s Journey.

1 comment:

Lost Kingdom said...

Mahalo (thank you in the Hawaiian language) for this lovely review!

Julia Flynn Siler, author of Lost Kingdom