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by James A. Michener

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In Hawaii, Pulitzer Prize–winning author James Michener weaves the classic saga that brought Hawaii’s epic history vividly alive to the American public on its initial publication in 1959, and continues to mesmerize even today.

The volcanic processes by which the Hawaiian Islands grew from the ocean floor were inconceivably slow, and the land


In Hawaii, Pulitzer Prize–winning author James Michener weaves the classic saga that brought Hawaii’s epic history vividly alive to the American public on its initial publication in 1959, and continues to mesmerize even today.

The volcanic processes by which the Hawaiian Islands grew from the ocean floor were inconceivably slow, and the land remained untouched by man for countless centuries until, little more than a thousand years ago, Polynesian seafarers made the perilous journey across the Pacific and discovered their new home. They lived and flourished in this tropical paradise according to their ancient traditions and beliefs until, in the early nineteenth century, American missionaries arrived, bringing a new creed and a new way of life to a Stone Age society. The impact of the missionaries had only begun to be absorbed when other national groups, with equally different customs, began to migrate in great numbers to the islands. The story of modern Hawaii, and of this novel, is one of how disparate peoples, struggling to keep their identity yet live with one another in harmony, ultimately joined together to build America’s strong and vital fiftieth state.

Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun
[A] mammoth epic of the islands, [a] vast panorama . . . wonderful.
From the Publisher
“Wonderful . . . [a] mammoth epic of the islands.”The Baltimore Sun
“One novel you must not miss! A tremendous work from every point of view—thrilling, exciting, lusty, vivid, stupendous.”Chicago Tribune
“From Michener’s devotion to the islands, he has written a monumental chronicle of Hawaii, an extraordinary and fascinating novel.”Saturday Review
“Memorable . . . a superb biography of a people.”Houston Chronicle

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.41(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Millions upon millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others. It was a mighty ocean, resting uneasily to the east of the largest continent, a restless ever-changing, gigantic body of water that would later be described as pacific.

Over its brooding surface immense winds swept back and forth, whipping the waters into towering waves that crashed down upon the world’s seacoasts, tearing away rocks and eroding the land. In its dark bosom, strange life was beginning to form, minute at first, then gradually of a structure now lost even to memory. Upon its farthest reaches birds with enormous wings came to rest, and then flew on.

Agitated by a moon stronger then than now, immense tides ripped across this tremendous ocean, keeping it in a state of torment. Since no great amounts of sand had yet been built, the waters where they reached shore were universally dark, black as nigh and fearful.

Scores of millions of years before man had risen from the shores of the ocean to perceive its grandeur and to venture forth upon its turbulent waves, this eternal sea existed, larger than any other of the earth’s features, vaster than the sister oceans combined, wild, terrifying in its immensity and imperative in its universal role.

How utterly vast it was! How its surges modified the very balance of the earth! How completely lonely it was, hidden in the dark ness of night or burning in the dazzling power of a younger sun than ours.

At recurring intervals the ocean grew cold. Ice piled up along itsextremities, and so pulled vast amounts of water from the sea, so that the wandering shoreline of the continents sometimes jutted miles farther out than before. Then, for a hundred thousand years, the ceaseless ocean would tear at the exposed shelf of the continents, grinding rocks into sand and incubating new life.

Later, the fantastic accumulations of ice would melt, setting cold waters free to join the heaving ocean, and the coasts of the continents would lie submerged. Now the restless energy of the sea deposited upon the ocean bed layers of silt and skeletons and salt. For a million years the ocean would build soil, and then the ice would return; the waters would draw away; and the land would lie exposed. Winds from the north and south would howl across the empty seas and last stupendous waves upon the shattering shore. Thus the ocean continued is alternate building and tearing down.

Master of life, guardian of the shorelines, regulator of temperatures and heaving sculptor of mountains, the great ocean existed.

Copyright 2002 by James A. Michener

Meet the Author

James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 3, 1907
Date of Death:
October 16, 1997
Place of Death:
Austin, Texas
B.A. in English and history (summa cum laude), Swarthmore College, 1929; A.M., University of Northern Colorado, 1937.

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Hawaii 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
LillyParksONBooks More than 1 year ago
I read this about three years ago, and I still enjoy reading it again whenever the urge strikes me. The book fairly accurately tells the story of Hawaii. The more you read the more you can learn about the people, history, and religion of these wonderful islands. The book does not portray Hawaii as a sunny vacation spot for rich americans, it's shown in it's true beautiful form. It starts when the Polynesians came to Hawaii, next other settlers came to Hawaii, and on to almost the present day. It's just a great historical novel. Highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This, as far I'm concerned, is the ultimate 'family saga' novel. Some call it Michener's master work, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. HAWAII follows an organizational pattern familiar to readers of Michener's other huge historical novels. First he tells the geological and prehistoric story of the region that provides the book's setting. Next, he introduces characters from early in that region's history - characters whose descendants people the book's subsequent sections, joined by a new group of immigrants as each of the tale's installments unfolds. The Polynesians - the New England missionaries, whalers, and merchants - the Chinese - and finally, the Japanese, arrive in different eras and under different circumstances. Each of these groups finds its own place, or rather creates its own place, in a society that's both challenged and enriched by Hawaii's ever-increasing racial and cultural diversity. Genealogy ties this vast story's threads together, yet each of its major characters exists as a memorable individual in his or her own right. The author never allows his book's colorful setting, or the exciting backdrop of world events against which local happenings play out, to upstage those characters - nor does he let them blur into each other, which could easily happen with this many for both author and reader to keep straight. But what reader could possibly forget the great Alii Nui Malama, no matter how many descendants of the original Malama wind up sharing her name? Who could forget missionary wife Jerusha Bromley Hale, or the Chinese concubine whose true name her hundreds of descendants never know? HAWAII heads the short list of books that I can read over and over, and always find fresh. A master work, indeed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never has a novel had more of an impact on my life. I've read Hawaii 3 times. Once, when I was a child and could barely understand it. The second time I was a highschool senior and at a crossroad in my life. Finally, I read it for the third time after I just gave in and moved to Maui. Every chapter to me is fasinating! Unlike most people, I loved the first chapter. I loved the long and painful geological development of these islands. It took millions of years for the Hawaii we know and love to look and feel the way it does today. Michener captures this struggle beautifully. I think this chapter sets the stage perfectly for the rest of this epic tale. I believe this is a must read for anybody who wants to know Hawaii. I especially recommend it for anybody who might be considering a move to the islands. This is historical story telling at its finest!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fabulous. It is the history of the Hawaiian Islands in a novel form; the narrative parallels 'real' history so closely that sometimes the only differences are the names Mr. Michener substitutes for real-life characters. I've read 'straight' histories such as Hawaii Pono, which turned out to be the same information in a much less enjoyable style. Unless you need all the historical nitty-gritty, read this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I live in Hawaii, and reading this book has given me a new prospective from which to view these beautiful islands. I have found myself wanting to know more about the people, the real people who built these islands. This book has piqued my historical curiosity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful novel. Although the first chapter felt like it dragged on and on, the next 1000 pages flew by. While the novel is supposed to be ficticious, Michener has obviously done a lot of research. Many of the stories parallel with Hawaii's actual history. This novel is so good that you will find yourself reading into all hours of the night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only person that gives so much true history woven with fiction that becomes a work of art being, "I can't put this down", book. Read it the first time when my children were small 45 years ago & began my love affair with James A. When you look for info in World Books at the time, as other sources, please consult, "Hawaii" by James A. Michener. That makes you sure that info was some of the best history lesson to be learned. Fantastic!!!
Keyman1017 More than 1 year ago
Although obviously prepared in haste, this edition of James Michener's masterpiece is still an excellent, though long, read. Once you steel yourself to gliss over the typographical errors it is more convenient than holding the very large original edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is one of the best I have ever read. I didn't think it would appeal to me, but the wonder of the islands described beautifully got me hooked to the story. Michener sets us with the making of the islands, followed by the narration of the early Polynesian islanders. Then fast forward to the 1800's, and he introduces the religious history and the missionaries. He blends in cultures of Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian, and Hawaiian very well, and gives us a well developed character for each ethnicity to follow. I look forward to reading Michener's other novels!
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
A true James Michener classic. Written in 1959. This is a marathon of a book. More than 1,050 pages and each numeric page equals 3 pages on your nook. Takes you from the beginning of time when the earth was still in the throws of it’s volcanic upheaval, before the islands were formed, through the 1950’s. However, it is such a long book that I found myself desperately hoping for the end. After about 800 pages, it was just plain tedious. There were so many characters in the latter part of the book that it was very difficult to keep things straight. Many characters had the same names as their ancestors or variations of the names of multiple ancestors. Example of this is the first name of a great grandmother from the first part of the book is now the last name of a descendant and the descendant’s first name is a last name from another grandparent. I counted at least 4 people with the first name of Neolani in this book. It became very confusing. James Michener would have had a much better book if he weren’t so verbose. The story became very repetitive in places. If you are familiar with the movie Hawaii, know that the entire movie takes place in part 3 of the book. There are 6 parts to the book each dealing with a different era. Having read this book in the paper back in the late 1960’s, I was very disappointed in the number of typos in this e-book form.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't get through it! Way too strung out for me
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not know these things about Hawaii. How interesting to see the origins and the various people to have developed the culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dicken--15--dog More than 1 year ago
I have read Hawaii twice as a hard cover book. Now, it's more comfortable for my arthritic hands to read it as an e-book. I love the history that Michener adds to his stories. A nice break from stories that have very little substance.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thirty years ago I read this book on the 102 Monkland bus as I travelled to my Montreal waitressing job every day. I was transported not only to work but to Hawaii. I learned about the incredible ingenuity and bravery of sea-farers as they sought home, happiness and future. A riveting read all through!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like historical novels