Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sarah Vowell tells the history of the fiftieth state—Hawaii. Her latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes, gives an account of the transformation of the islands by New England missionaries who arrived in 1820, an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband, and also looks at sugar barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen: a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded Barack Obama, the first president from Hawaii, during his inaugural parade.


Sarah Vowell

Comments [11]

Leo from queens

I would not consider the implementation of the 'concept' of private property as a benefit of colonization as these cultures were pretty much egalitarian and land was seen as a communal benefit to be shared for the common benefit of society.
Private ownership of land usually led to the concentration of wealth on a few politically connected individuals and colonizers.. in some societies it resulted in most of the land being transferred to American corporations

Mar. 22 2011 01:57 PM

The "apostrophe" is called an okina, it's to the left of the number 1 on your keyboard.

Mar. 22 2011 01:55 PM

Sara is my favorite guest on this show - thanks for this treat!

Mar. 22 2011 01:55 PM

I swear the "free trip" didn't even occur to me! It was a sincere question. I'm a fan.

Mar. 22 2011 01:55 PM
Calls'em... from Here, there & everywhere...

Is the imposition of "culture" and religion on Hawaii in that era, any worse then the imposition of sub-cultures (drugs, gay marriage, gangster rap, etc.) on main stream culture in America. Isn't it the same thing, when the "culture warriors" from NYC & LA who work in the media and entertainment wage war on the main stream Judeo-Christian and capitalist way of life in our Republic? I would think that the assault on America is much worse, given how much good, the mainstream culture has done despite its flaws.

Mar. 22 2011 01:54 PM
A listener

I have a crush on Sarah.

Just thought I would share that.

Mar. 22 2011 01:48 PM
elaine from li

What about the role of business like Dole?

Mar. 22 2011 01:47 PM

Sarah, I'm curious what made you interested in this topic?

Mar. 22 2011 01:41 PM
Donna from NYC

Since when doesn't Palestine exist anymore? You people are unbelievable. I am SO glad they took your funding!

Mar. 22 2011 01:39 PM
Jim from Sparta NJ

I think that the seminal book covering Hawaii (up until approx 195?) was a book by this name written by James Michener. How much, if any, of 'Unfamiliar Fishes' material was based upon Michener's 'Hawaii'?

Mar. 22 2011 01:08 PM
Melissa from Ridgewood, NJ

I only lived in Hawaii for five years in the late 1960s (my father was an Air Force pilot stationed there), but they were formative ones when I was a teen-ager. As a result, I feel some kinship with Barack Obama and his ease with different cultures and nationalities. I think it is difficult to understand Hawaiian culture without living there for years or growing up there, as Obama did. How well does Ms. Vowell feel she came to know Hawaii and Hawaiians?

Mar. 22 2011 11:23 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.