Being born and raised in Hawai'i, I do agree that the narrator could have been a bit better, both in pronunciation and tone. However, the story is compelling, and very well researched. Hearing the bits and pieces that I learned in my Hawaiian Studies class in high school put into a very clear and complete structure was great. The writing style felt very personal, and it was nice hearing the stories of old Hawai'i together with the new as well as her own experiences. At the end of the book I got "chicken skin" or goose bumps as she talked about modern day Hawai'i. Very well written and highly recommended.
The is the third Sarah Vowell book that I have listened to, and it was unfortunately not one of my favorites. I love listening to her read her books, her voice is the perfect narrative. She has a dry, deadpan delivery that matches her writing style.
The subject matter of this book, how the US acquired Hawaii was just not as interesting as her others. I think part of what made it difficult was the unfamiliar Hawaiin names. I had a hard time following who was who, and eventually just tried to follow as much of the story as I could. If you are interested in history, especially the history of Hawaii, you will probably reallly enjoy this, otherwise, I would highly recommend her other books, especially Assassination Vacation.
I have lived in Hawaii and thought I knew the history. But recently my husband and I had a chance to vacation there after many years away and I decided to listen to Sarah Vowell to brush up on my history. This book changed my whole visit to Hawaii for the better and was, as usual, wonderful to listen to and learn from. Her metaphors are unique and perfect and she delves into the controversial history of Hawaii with just the right touch and all the historical facts.
More history from Sarah Vowell, who has an almost unique gift for mixing history with personal insight and acid humour. Better than her "Wordy Shipmates" (on the Puritan colonists) but not quite as entertaining as "Assassination Vacation" (on presidents Lincoln, McKinley, and Garfield). This book is similar in tone to the McKinley chapter of "Assassination Vacation", focussing as it does on the shift in US policy during the McKinley/Roosevelt years toward increasing influence over its neighbours.
For myself, I like Vowell's irony-heavy delivery, but it should be noted that her voice is not for all tastes - Vowell herself compares it to Lisa Simpson's so be warned! If you think her high-pitched nasal tone will grate I recommend you buy the paperback, not the audiobook.
As for complaints that her book is anti-US - this is clearly nonsense. History at its best is fact divorced from patriotic spin and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has any knowledge of history that stronger, larger nations dominate their smaller neighbours - to pretend that the US is exempt from this rule is to be absurdly blinkered.
Mom of 9
Does this woman have a close friend who could break it to her gently that she's going to be her own worst enemy when she tries to read her own book? Another reviewer said that anyone with right-of-center political views won't like the book. Well, I don't like her political views at all, but I can still enjoy the history and the research she's done and spit out her point of view. But you can't spit out her voice--it's awful and I'm not sure I can even finish listening. Please, Audible, don't let her do this again.
This book should not have been read by the author. She sounds like she loves the culture of Hawaii but cannot pronounce the names and has a grating voice. She would draw more people to her opinion if the recording were warmer - like the islands.
Well, let me restate that. This is a great book if you enjoy bitter atheists. The only thing that would make it worse; if the very monotone, bitter author read it herself. Oh, wait she did.
I am not a Christian, so this is not about me not liking her because of her views. It is simply that there is so much resentment and anger on the top, I could not find the story below.
I am was so disappointed because I love nonfiction and historical nonfiction, in particular.
Far and away one of Sarah Vowell's best books. Informative yet funny. She has a style all her own. She absolutely owns it in this book. It is worth buying once for yourself and then again for your friends. You should also try Assassination Vacation.
Unfortunately, I have to agree with some of the other reviewers. The great cast of narraters were only little quotes here and there and for the most part you are listening to the author Sarah Vowell narrate. It was difficult to listen to her because of the tone of her voice and speech impediment and I found myself torn between not wanting to listen and being fascinated with the content so having to push on. I wish I had read the book instead. I would have really enjoyed it.
Anger. Disappointment. I thought there would be multiple narrators, but there appears to be only one. I HATE her voice. The content was interesting, but I had to stop listening. I wish I had listened to a preview.