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Unfamiliar Fishes

af Sarah Vowell

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,4608712,547 (3.58)158
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.
  1. 10
    Hawaii I - IV af 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 af Cummins E. Speakman Jr. (Copperskye)
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» Se også 158 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 87 (næste | vis alle)
Sarah Vowell comes across as fairly charming. But in this book, her "pop history" approach winds up feeling a little scatter-shot. Still, for example, her digressions into American and missionary relationships with the Cherokee became more understandable when I realized this book isn't about the Hawaiian people. It's about the missionaries who traveled to the islands, what they did there, and how they prepared the islands culturally and politically for annexation. She also argues that the annexation was in character with the US's previous expansion into North America and 1898 widespread power consolidation as spoils of the Spanish-American War (the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba--or at least Guantanamo Bay).

She tries to portray the missionaries as both an incursion of cultural xenophobes and simultaneously as true believers who cared about the well-being of the Hawaiians. As an aspiring educator, I was fascinated to learn how the missionaries learned to speak Hawaiian, devised a system for writing it down, and taught Hawaiians to read--reaching a 75% literacy level in two generations, outdistancing the US's reading ability. Of course, this was all in service of getting printing presses working putting out Hawaiian translations of the Bible (done by eight ministers over 15 years, directly from the Hebrew...amazing!) I didn't think I could find missionaries sympathetic, but I sort of did by the end.

So I learned a lot more details of people and places (stuff I'd carefully ignored in middle school), and there's a lengthy bibliography in the back. Although it did not satisfy me as much as I'd like, it did leave me hungry for more history about our islands. It's a quick and easy read, and I hope it inspires others to dig in and understand more. ( )
  grahzny | Jul 17, 2023 |
I enjoyed reading and learning. I don't have much to add to that. I see that I didn't pick the most archetypal Vowell to start off with, but that just leaves me more to read.
I will say that it took living in the (very) south Pacific to make me realize my mental image of Hawaii was purely that of modern white transplants. I mean I knew it, I just didn't think about it consciously. So I'm glad to have a little more structured knowledge of that process to add to my knowledge of pacific cultures. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
While exhibiting some of the humorous flair that she used to great success in ASSASSINATION VACATION, Vowell comes off as a bit preachy in this book. While she holds no party as blameless in this history of 19th-century Hawaii, her Cherokee background (which she inserts into the narrative) and her clear disdain of New England religion are evident in her bias throughout. Her bias even undercuts the very people that she seeks to lift up - native Hawaiians - by denying them any agency in their post-contact history (everything done in Hawaii was at the fault of either missionaries, sailors, or businessmen, with Hawaiians acting the part of dutiful servants to whichever party Vowell chooses to lay blame).

Wouldn't recommend this book, as Vowell's stream-of-consciousness, history/travelogue style really only works when there is humor and wit present in sizable amounts. If you're looking for a good book by the author, I would recommend ASSASSINATION VACATION instead. ( )
  alrajul | Jun 1, 2023 |
If I could do a half-star, I would give this book 2.5 stars. It was interesting info presented in a rather dull way. There are no chapters, and she often has lengthy quotes when she could have just paraphrased. I do care about what she wrote, and it’s clear she did a ton a research for the book. The writing simply didn’t have the flair of her essays in The Partly Cloudy Patriot, the only other Sarah Vowell book I’ve read (and which I really enjoyed). ( )
  Harks | Dec 17, 2022 |
I’m a big fan of Vowell’s narrative voice that incorporates a sarcastic bite and sprinklings of the personal with the historical subject matter. She does this most effectively—in my opinion— in Wordy Shipmates and Party Cloudy Patriot.

Unfamiliar Fishes, though, is more dry than I wanted it to be.

While still informative and interesting, I found myself having to re-read whole pages because I would get bored and wander off. ( )
  Chuck_ep | Jul 18, 2022 |
Viser 1-5 af 87 (næste | vis alle)
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.
tilføjet af sduff222 | RedigerPublishers Weekly (Dec 20, 2010)
 

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Vowell, Sarahprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Armisen, FredFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hader, BillFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hodgman, JohnFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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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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