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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
The history of Hawaii may be said to be the story of arrivals - from the eruption of volcanoes on the ocean floor 18,000 feet below, the first hardy seeds that over millennia found their way to the islands, and the confused birds blown from their migratory routes to the early Polynesian adventurers who sailed across the Pacific in double canoes, the Spanish galleons en route to the Philippines, and the British navigators in search of a Northwest Passage, soon followed by pious Protestant missionaries, shipwrecked sailors, and rowdy Irish poachers escaped from Botany Bay - all wanderers washed ashore, sometimes by accident. This is true of many cultures, but in Hawaii no one seems to have left. And in Hawaii a set of myths accompanied each of these migrants - legends that shape our understanding of this mysterious place.
In Paradise of the Pacific, Susanna Moore, the award-winning author of In the Cut and The Life of Objects, pieces together the elusive, dramatic story of late-18th-century Hawaii - its kings and queens, gods and goddesses, missionaries, migrants, and explorers - a not-so-distant time of abrupt transition in which an isolated pagan world of human sacrifice and strict taboo, without a currency or a written language, was confronted with the equally ritualized world of capitalism, Western education, and Christian values.
LA Times, August 2015
"In many ways, it remains so today. The power of “Paradise of the Pacific,” then — as well as its bitter beauty — resides in Moore’s ability to lay out this progression as a set of turning points, inevitable from the standpoint of the present, but in their own time more a matter of human ambition and fallibility."
The New York Times, August 2015
"The novelist Susanna Moore (the author of two previous nonfiction books about Hawaii) handsomely contributes to all this with the unworthily titled “Paradise of the Pacific,” which sounds like a tourist brochure. Her book is in fact an astonishingly learned summation of the Hawaiian meaning, elegantly written, often delightfully entertaining and ultimately sad."
Paradise of the Pacific blog
Minnesota Public Radio, Listen to 'A powerful history of Hawaii, 'Paradise of the Pacific'
"When Hawaii Was Ruled by Shark-Like Gods," The New York Review of Books, Deecember 2015