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Sintesi dell'editore

In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick and David McCullough comes the first full-scale narrative history of Hawaii, an epic tale of empire, industry, war, and culture.

The most recent state to join the union, Hawaii is the only one to have once been a royal kingdom. After its discovery by Captain Cook in the late 18th century, Hawaii was fought over by European powers determined to take advantage of its position as the crossroads of the Pacific. The arrival of the first missionaries marked the beginning of the struggle between a native culture with its ancient gods, sexual libertinism, and rites of human sacrifice and the rigid values of the Calvinists. While Hawaii's royal rulers adopted Christianity, they also fought to preserve their ancient ways. But the success of the ruthless American sugar barons sealed their fate, and in1893 the American Marines overthrew Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii.

Captive Paradise is the story of King Kamehameha I, the Conqueror, who unified the islands through terror and bloodshed but whose dynasty succumbed to inbreeding; of Gilded Age tycoons like Claus Spreckels, who brilliantly outmaneuvered his competitors; of firebrand Lorrin Thurston, who was determined that Hawaii be ruled by whites; of President McKinley, who presided over the eventual annexation of the islands. Not since James Michener's classic novel Hawaii has there been such a vibrant and compelling portrait of an extraordinary place and its people.

©2014 James L. Haley (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Jonathan
  • 09 07 2015

Good, but not enough history of the Island.

All this writer focuses on is the royal family. The beginning is great. A more complete history of the late 1700's.

But that's a very small part of the book. Beyond that this is not a history of Hawaii but a history of the royal family. If you are looking to learn about Hawaii and their people, industry, etc as a whole and not just about the royal family then get a different book. This is not the one.

7 su 7 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Sean
  • 04 01 2015

A balanced perspective

An in depth look at Hawaiian history from all sides.

Most histories either vilify the white man or explain how the natives got what they deserved. The author does a good job of portraying the major characters as real human beings warts and all. Still, one comes away with tremendous sympathy for the native Hawaiians.

He clearly demonstrates that the native monarchs were just as complicit in commercializing the islands as the sugar barons or sea captains. And they did it with full understanding of the consequences of their actions.

He dispels the myth of the "good old days" by pointing out that in pre-contact Hawaii 9,999 out of 10,000 natives were essentially serfs subject to human sacrifice or capital punishment at the whim of the rulers.

He makes no apologies for the annexation movement condemning it in the harshest terms. But he is also quick to quell historical "what ifs" by pointing out that the next most likely fate for the islands was to become a Japanese protectorate--a bullet dodged.

I enjoyed the performance but I dislike the current trend to perform audiobooks as opposed to reading them. A Scottish character--break out the Highland brogue, a Spaniard--rev up the RRRRRs. I wish they would offer a straight reading along with the performance version of these books.

I would recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in Hawaiian history, but it is detailed so don't expect to get through in on a plane ride to your island vacation.

6 su 7 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Matthew Stuckey
  • 26 02 2016

Great book though narrator is an acquired taste.

Sorry Joe, I know you tried. Got used to it though... Well done story. Great.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • stephanie
  • 31 05 2016

The author calls Hawaiians "natives"

James Haley tries for an unbiased ( sometimes clinical) approach but in his attempt to avoid the biases created from cultural sensitivity he disregards the culture itself, always coming from the perspective of the white people. It is good in that he presents a clear view of all the information

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  • Kevin M. M.
  • 06 01 2016

good read... or listen

It was good, the author did a good job of adding enough description to visualize the people and setting. the reading was good, but pronunciation is not 100% accurate.
there's a strong personal opinion which surfaces throughout, but based on the facts presented appears to be well grounded.

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  • Carmen
  • 18 07 2015

Fabulous story

Provides an insightful and balanced view without romanticism. The story of the people of their time living the life of their time.

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  • Greg
  • 13 07 2015

A History, Not Politically Correct Fantasies

What made the experience of listening to Captive Paradise the most enjoyable?

The author, James L. Haley, presented the historical facts about the history of Hawaii. His presentation was accurate and his analysis was fair and balanced, and he did not try to persuade his readers to one political viewpoint or another.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Captive Paradise?

The author's presentation of the Blount Report's analysis of the overthrow of the Queen.

Which scene was your favorite?

The day-to-day life of the average Hawaiian under Hawaiian rulers.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Hawai'i: A Paradise That Never Was

Any additional comments?

Excellent book!

1 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Joanna
  • 26 02 2015

Biased History at its Worst!

Would you try another book from James L. Haley and/or Joe Barrett?

I was extremely disappointed by this book. The author states in his preface that he has a “sense of responsibility in handling a subject as multi-faceted as Hawaiʻi” and that he will focus on the “actual facts”. Yet his presentation of the history of colonization is based predominantly on the diaries of seamen and missionaries. There is no attempt made to truly understand the depth of the Hawaiian culture or the viewpoints of the Hawaiian people. Perhaps the author should have further considered the “academic” viewpoint that he decries for the merits of providing a balanced history.

What didn’t you like about Joe Barrett’s performance?

Who had the bright idea to use a New York actor to read a book full of Hawaiian language? The pronunciation is grating.

Any additional comments?

This is just another work of fiction to put in the dusty corner of biased “history” books.

3 su 7 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • David Palmer
  • 27 10 2017

An excellent documentary

I enjoyed the level of diligence and detail that was invested in both the writing and the narration of this book. However, keep in mind that it is a lengthy (but entertaining) documentary of the known history of Hawai’i, a fascinating nation, but not a suspense/thriller where every page is a cliffhanger. Be truthful with yourself about that and you will enjoy it! The story is as lively and interesting as the facts allow, including highlighting ironies and comedic elements. An excellent work.

0 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Walter W. Chu
  • 02 12 2016


I have listened to a few other books on the history of Hawaii. They have something to learn since they all may cover the same topic it is by the details they provide that they differ. I have learned a few details of the heritage of my people from this book that I have never known.
For anyone wishing to learn something of the people of Hawaii this is a good place to start. Yes, it does follow the lives of the "Royals". They all pretty much have to since there is not too much written about us commoners since, in the scheme of things the kanakas did not rate that highly in all that matter.
Still, give this book a listen and learn.

0 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione