Unfamiliar Fishes

Unfamiliar Fishes

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2011
ISBN: 9781594487873
Branch Call Number: 996.9 VOWELL
Characteristics: 238 p. ; 22 cm


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Manon is interested in the non-fiction book from Sarah Vowell that argues 1898 was a truly important year in American history.

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ylpladults Aug 23, 2018

This book is about the Americanization of Hawaii and the ruination of the people and their culture. The author treats the subject with dark humor, but I didn’t find the issues funny. I found the narration repetitive and a bit difficult to follow at times. On the positive side, I enjoyed learning about Hawaii’s culture, especially how Hawaii’s history informs today’s Hawaiian people.

Nov 18, 2017

Just here to agree - it's wonderful, she's whip-smart and funny/droll/precise and rather irresistible. Beautifully integrated telling of the tale - sad though it is.

Sep 03, 2016

As one of the blurbs on the back cover stated, Vowell could make a trip to the DMV entertaining. This sad and embarassing story of the US's destruction of a culture was certainly entertaining - and really, when reading about something tragic that is in the past, what can one do but laugh and hope to learn. Hope springs eternal, folks, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This book was funny, sarcastic, and full of little known (to me) facts and tidbits. I really enjoyed this book and will certainly be reading others of Vowell's.

Jun 14, 2014

wonderfully sassy telling of how Hawaii got colonized

Dec 31, 2013

Hawaiian history told with a dry sense of humor.

Oct 31, 2013

I love Sarah Vowell and the way she presents her knowledge. She has many tidbits of American history and the way (in part) that we shaped the world. She cracks me up and sometimes makes me shake my head at our ability to think we know best.
Her books are always a fun read.

Mar 20, 2013

Just like her photo shows on the cover flaps, Ms Vowell is a no-nonsense researcher. I have visited the islands a few times and now know I will bring her newest book about Hawai'ian history with me next time! She is witty, enjoyably thorough, and brings an interesting viewpoint to American religious, secular and political expansionalsim. If you recognize her voice as Violet in the animated movie 'The Incredibles,' you know the determination. Full points for this adventure into history!

Mar 02, 2013

I listened to the audio version. I wasn't sure about hearing Sarah Vowell's voice for 7 discs, but it grows on you. And you know the inflections are how the author intended. Also, she has some great cameo readers.

Way back when I was in high school, I thought I didn't like history as a subject. I now realize I didn't like the way history was taught. Vowell's history of Hawaii is one of the most entertaining non-fictions books I've ever encountered. Some of the history is grim, and she doesn't skip that. But she keeps it so interesting.

This book is thoroughly researched and even-handed. At times I laughed out loud and at other times I was just appalled at some happenings. I most appreciated her penchant for including a broader context for all the anecdotes.

Hearing how much water it takes to grow sugar cane might be very good for my diet.

Aug 22, 2012

Interesting take on Hawaiian history with a lot of details I was unfamiliar with.

sharonb122 Jun 29, 2012

I was able to visit Hawaii this winter, so that added to my interest while reading another insightful book from Sarah Vowell. I always appreciate her humor and her dark irony. Some of the book was a little slower for me with all the names, dates. It worked well that she was able to tie in Pres. Obama--brings history into today quite well! The book was very thought provoking giving the Hawaiian, US and missionary viewpoints. I appreciated the last pages where Vowell put the story of Hawaii into perspective in the context of the rest of American history.

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