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Aloha Rodeo

Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West
Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
Length: 6 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the spirit of The Boys in the Boat comes the captivating true story of the Hawaiian cowboys who changed rodeo and the West forever. 

In August 1908, three unknown riders arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, their hats adorned with wildflowers, to compete in the world’s greatest rodeo. They had travelled 3,000 miles from Hawaii, where their ancestors had herded cattle for generations, to test themselves against the toughest riders in the West. Dismissed by whites, who considered themselves the only true cowboys, the Hawaiians left the heartland as champions - and American legends. 

David Wolman and Julian Smith’s Aloha Rodeo unspools a fascinating and little-known tale, blending rough-knuckled frontier drama with a rousing underdog narrative. Tracing the life story of steer-roping virtuoso Ikua Purdy and his cousins Jack Low and Archie Ka’au’a, the writers delve into the dual histories of ranching in the islands and the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Cheyenne, “Holy City of the Cow”. At the turn of the century, larger-than-life personalities like “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Theodore Roosevelt capitalized on a national obsession with the Wild West and helped transform Cheyenne’s annual Frontier Days celebration into an unparalleled rodeo spectacle, the “Daddy of ‘em All”. 

A great deal rode on the Hawaiians’ shoulders during those dusty days in August. Just a decade earlier, the overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy and forced annexation by the US had traumatized an independent nation whose traditions dated back centuries. Journeying to the mainland for the first time, the young riders brought with them the pride of a people struggling to preserve their cultural identity and anxious about their future under the rule of overlords an ocean away. 

In Cheyenne, the Hawaiians didn’t just show their mastery of riding and roping, skills that white Americans thought they owned. They also overturned simplistic thinking about the “Wild West”, cowboys-versus-Indians, and the very concept of cattle country. Blending sport and history, while exploring questions of identity, imperialism, and race, Aloha Rodeo brings to light an overlooked and riveting chapter in the saga of the American West.

©2019 David Wolman and Julian Smith (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Fun read.

This was a great book with some great American history. If you have Hawaiian and cowboy roots
like I seem to , a great way to spend some time.

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A truth grander than the mythos

Wolman and Smith explore an inflection point in the story of the American west from a fascinatingly distinct perspective, I had a hard time categorizing this book - Aloha Rodeo is a biography. It's a sports story. It's unexplored and unknown popular history. It's about culture, the imperial era, the environment, and a story of the stories we tell ourselves, all captured from a poignant, intimate perspective.

If you think you know the best stories of the American West and cattle culture, think again and give Aloha Rodeo a read. Nearly every page seems to contain a hidden nugget that will challenge your assumptions about the time period. I listened to the audio version, and Kaleo Griffith is fantastic, expertly finding the depth and authenticity of the story in his performance. Highly recommend to anyone with even a fleeting interest or curiosity in Hawaiian history, cattle culture, and the mythos of the Wild West.

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Fun read

I love how they combined the history of Hawaii with that of the Wild West.

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A walk in Grandpa’s Boots. Maika’i!

Aloha,
Ikua is my 2nd great grandfather, this book has given me a look back into time on his journey to the World Championship! I have picked up where my dad left off on family genealogy. This family Story will one day grace the big screen. My son carry’s his namesake we live on regaining our Hawaiian National pride! He will be the one to produce this epic movie.
I can see the writers had done a lot of research but for the early Hawaiian Kingdom History some key historical points were missing for example:
Hawaiian Kingdom gained independence November 28, 1843 this is important to know because it identifies why the United States needed a treat of Annexation to acquire the islands. A joint resolution of Annexation is not a treaty, it has no effect beyond the boarders of the United States.
Land grab could have been explained better, in 1845 land commissions started this was done by kamehameha III. Private land ownership would protect property in Hawaii if it was ever conquered. Under international law you can not take private property.
Olelo (Hawaiian language) was the national language.
From President Cleveland address to Congress he called those businessmen Insurgents, he also said the United States committed an Act of War on a peaceful nation.
We are currently living under USA occupation for 126 years.
Link below is currently happening in Hawaii.
https://youtu.be/aG9Z6mlEPWE
Lā hoi hoi ea was celebrated in July, it was when our sovereignty was returned national holiday in the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Threw education I have come to know that July 4th is the day that group of people became insurgents and began the war for independence not the day they gained independence. It took the 7 years.
The insurgents backed by USA government committed Denationalization of the people of Hawaii this is where Ikua signed the Kue petition saying no to Annexation.
America imperial expansion, they wanted Pearl Harbor, 1898 Spanish American war is what cause the mass confusion and Bam America moved in committed war crimes ever since and the world is watching.
University of Hawaii research has proven all these facts with PhD students who graduated.
Before you judge do your own due diligence I have.
If any of you can find The Treaty of Annexation for Hawaii please share.
In the book it talks about Hawaii feeling like a foreign country? Because it has been and still is, over throwing the government doesn’t mean you overthrew it sovereignty. They just changed the head of state and is cabinet.
My country is still here, to grandpa in heaven you country will be returned because of your Kue signature and the Queens wit they preserved our country so we can right the wrong.