Hawaiiby James A. Michener
The volcanic processes by which the Hawaiian Islands grew from the ocean floor were inconceivably slow, and the land/i>
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.
“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
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
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.
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.
- 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.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >