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Captive Paradise

A History of Hawaii
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, American
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

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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Profile Image for Jonathan
  • Jonathan
  • 09-07-15

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.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • 04-01-15

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Matthew Stuckey
  • Matthew Stuckey
  • 26-02-16

Great book though narrator is an acquired taste.

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for MindinMotion
  • MindinMotion
  • 14-12-17

Must read prior to visiting Hawaii

Would you consider the audio edition of Captive Paradise to be better than the print version?

Yes, if only for the pronunciation of Hawaiian words

What did you like best about this story?

The way it was detailed and composed.

What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

Good pronunciation of Hawaiian words, interesting voice.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, I knew of the basic history which is not necessarily a happy story, but the writer did moderate some of the worst parts by telling the context of the actions.

Any additional comments?

This should enhance any visit to the islands. It is very light on events after about 1900 and has nothing since statehood.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-07-19

Wonderfully Objective Telling

Having gone to college in Hawaii for a time and having spent substantial time on the islands, I found this to be the most comprehensive and objective telling of the Hawaiian Story. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in American History.

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Profile Image for Andrew E. Mossberg
  • Andrew E. Mossberg
  • 15-06-19

Excellent

Very enjoyable history of Hawai’i told in a dispassionate and seemingly unbiased manner that reveals both good and bad will among all players. The history reveals far more nuanced events with goals that sometimes conflicted and sometimes coincided. Particularly enjoyed the audio book version in preset to hear pronunciations of the native words.

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Profile Image for Kevin M. M.
  • Kevin M. M.
  • 06-01-16

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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Profile Image for Carmen
  • Carmen
  • 18-07-15

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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Profile Image for Greg
  • Greg
  • 13-07-15

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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Joanna
  • Joanna
  • 26-02-15

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.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful