Unfamiliar Fishes [NOOK Book]

Overview

From Puritans to heathens-Sarah Vowell takes on Hawaii in this New York Times bestseller.

Of all the countries the United States invaded or colonized in 1898, Sarah Vowell considers the story of the Americanization of Hawaii to be the most intriguing. From the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820, who came to Christianize the local heathens, to the coup d'état led by the missionaries' sons in 1893, overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, ...
See more details below
Unfamiliar Fishes

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99
BN.com price

Overview

From Puritans to heathens-Sarah Vowell takes on Hawaii in this New York Times bestseller.

Of all the countries the United States invaded or colonized in 1898, Sarah Vowell considers the story of the Americanization of Hawaii to be the most intriguing. From the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820, who came to Christianize the local heathens, to the coup d'état led by the missionaries' sons in 1893, overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling, if often appalling or tragic, characters. Whalers who fire cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their god-given right to whores; an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband; sugar barons, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded the first Hawaiian-born president of the United States during his 2009 inaugural parade.

With her trademark wry insights and reporting, Vowell sets out to discover the odd, emblematic, and exceptional history of the fiftieth state. In examining the place where Manifest Destiny got a sunburn, she finds America again, warts and all.


Read More Show Less
  • Unfamiliar Fishes
    Unfamiliar Fishes  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In The Wordy Shipmates (9781594484001), the delightfully irrepressible essayist Sarah Vowell escorted readers on a jaunty cook's tour of Puritan eccentricities. In her new Unfamiliar Fishes, she leads us a rollicking saunter through Hawaii, where Manifest Destiny took several strange turns and acquired a sunburn. (History readers might approach this book as a jaunty sequel to Evan Thomas' War Lovers.) Vowell begins with the arrival of prudish early nineteenth Christian missionaries and gains force when America's anti-colonial colonialists seized the islands with capitalistic and bible-thumping relish. As always, Vowell's history lessons are delivered with verve that most of us wish we could have shared in school.

Allegra Goodman
[Vowell's] prose is conversational but clever, her anecdotes quirky yet highly crafted…It's the kind of writing performed so well on National Public Radio, journalism as human interest, history as found poetry, monologue casting a spell of public intimacy…this is a book aimed at a wide audience, and Vowell tells a good tale. Forgive her journalistic excesses, consider her shrewd observations, and enjoy her comic turns of phrase. If you feel compelled after reading to journey to the Bishop Museum or devour the journals of Captain Cook or see some real hula, so much the better.
—The Washington Post
Kaui Hart Hemmings
Greed, death, cultural desecration, manifest destiny—what a lark! But with Vowell as tour guide it does, at times, manage to be just that…Vowell deftly summarizes complex events and significant upheavals, reducing them to their essence…While [her] take on Hawaii's Americanization is abbreviated, it's never bereft of substance—her repartee manages to be filling, her insights astute and comprehensive.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Recounting the brief, remarkable history of a unified and independent Hawaii, Vowell, a public radio star and bestselling author (The Wordy Shipmates), retraces the impact of New England missionaries who began arriving in the early 1800s to remake the island paradise into a version of New England. In her usual wry tone, Vowell brings out the ironies of their efforts: while the missionaries tried to prevent prostitution with seamen and the resulting deadly diseases, the natives believed it was the missionaries who would kill them: "they will pray us all to death." Along the way, and with the best of intentions, the missionaries eradicated an environmentally friendly, laid-back native culture (although the Hawaiians did have taboos against women sharing a table with men, upon penalty of death, and a reverence for "royal incest"). Freely admitting her own prejudices, Vowell gives contemporary relevance to the past as she weaves in, for instance, Obama's boyhood memories. Outrageous and wise-cracking, educational but never dry, this book is a thought-provoking and entertaining glimpse into the U.S.'s most unusual state and its unanticipated twists on the familiar story of Americanization. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Displaying her trademark wry, smart-alecky style, author/historian Vowell (contributing editor, NPR's This American Life The Wordy Shipmates) tells the story of the Americanization of the formerly independent nation of Hawaii, beginning in the early 1820s with the New England missionaries who remade the island paradise to conform to their own culture. The diverse characters about whom she writes include an incestuous princess torn between her new god and her brother-husband, sugar barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen. Unfortunately, listeners' enjoyment of this otherwise compelling material is diminished by Vowell's staccato, monotone reading of it, and brief cameos by various entertainment industry personalities are not enough to recommend it over the print version. [The Riverhead hc, which was an LJ Best Seller, was recommended for Vowell's "growing number of fans and those with an interest in Hawaii's history," LJ Xpress Reviews, 3/17/11.—Ed.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Ever-clever NPR contributor Vowell (The Wordy Shipmates, 2008, etc.) offers a quick, idiosyncratic account of Hawaii from the time Capt. James Cook was dispatched to the then–Sandwich Islands to the end of the 19th century, when the United States annexed the islands.

The author skips the politics by which Hawaii was admitted to the union in 1959. Within months, James Michener's blockbuster novel named after the new state became a runaway bestseller. Now, with a Hawaiian-born resident of the White House, Vowell's nonfiction report is a fine update—short, sweet and personal. She's especially sharp in her considerations of the baleful effect of imposed religion as missionaries tried to turn happy Polynesians into dour Yankees. Earnest, intrepid advocates embarked for the place where Cook died, hoping to correct the islander's easygoing—and, in the case of royalty, incestuous—ways. The invading clerics were soon followed by rowdy whalers who rubbed their fellow New Englanders the wrong way. (They were the "unfamiliar fishes" new to Honolulu's waters). The result was early empire building in the pursuit of Manifest Destiny. Annexation and the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch, was a destiny aided, ironically, by powerful Hawaiians. Vowell celebrates the early restoration of the hula, but she skims much of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 20th century. The author presents the views of the islanders as well as the invaders, as she delves into journals and narratives and takes field trips with local guides. Her characteristic light touch is evident throughout.

Lively history and astute sociology make a sprightly chronicle of a gorgeous archipelago and its people.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101486450
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 76,113
  • File size: 414 KB

Meet the Author

Sarah Vowell is the bestselling author of The Wordy Shipmates, Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Take the Cannoli, and Radio On. A contributing editor for public radio’s "This American Life", she lives in New York City.

Biography

Sarah Vowell has turned her gimlet eye -- and razor-sharp tongue -- toward everything from her father's homemade (and life-size) cannon and her obsession with the Godfather films, to the New Hampshire primary and her Cherokee ancestors' forced march on the Trail of Tears. Vowell is best known for her monologues and documentaries for public radio's This American Life. A contributing editor for the program since 1996, she has been a staple of TAL's popular live shows around the country, for which The New York Times has commended her "funny querulous voice and shrewd comic delivery." Thanks to her first book, Radio On: A Listener's Diary, Newsweek named her its "Rookie of the Year" for nonfiction in 1997, calling her "a cranky stylist with talent to burn." Reviewing her second book, the essay collection Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World, People magazine said, "Wise, witty and refreshingly warm-hearted, Vowell's essays on American history, pop culture and her own family reveal the bonds holding together a great, if occasionally weird, nation." Her third book, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, was a national bestseller and was recently released on audio CD, featuring the voices of Norman Lear, Paul Begala, and Conan O'Brien. Sarah Vowell's forthcoming book, titled Assassination Vacation and due to be published Spring 2005, is about tourism and presidential murder.

As a critic and reporter, Sarah Vowell has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines, including Esquire, GQ, Artforum, The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Spin, and McSweeney's. As a columnist, she has covered education for Time, American culture for the online magazine Salon.com, and pop music for San Francisco Weekly, for which she won a 1996 Music Journalism Award. She contributed the liner notes to the CD anthology Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants. Sarah Vowell is a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Vowell was recently cast as the voice of the teenage daughter in The Incredibles director Brad Bird's forthcoming film about a family of superheroes from Pixar Animation Studios.

Sarah Vowell has performed her work at the Aspen Comedy Festival, Amsterdam's Crossing Borders Festival, and Seattle's Foolproof Festival. She has appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Nightline, and is a regular on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Author biography courtesy of the Steven Barclay Agency.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 27, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Muskogee, Oklahoma
    1. Education:
      B.A., Montana State University, 1993; M.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1996

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 102 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(36)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(10)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 102 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    wow

    Does it is really matter if it's 'god' or 'God'? Instead of caring maybe you should get a job or something....

    7 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    History Nerds will like

    As a history nerd I always enjoy reading Sarah Vowell. She makes me laugh at the mistakes that people of the past have made and always gives good insight to their motives of why they did what they did. I enjoyed Unfamiliar Fishes but I there was a lot borrowed from previous books which gave me less insight than I usually get from her books. But this book is still very interesting and I enjoyed it.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2011

    History Lite (1/3 the context, same great beaches)

    I do enjoy Sarah Vowell's books, but her editors may want to adjust the settings on the snarkometer. Sometimes a wry and sardonic tone is appropriate but it seems too often in this book, she substitutes pop culture references and asides about Owen for actual explanations of Hawaiian culture and history. (For instance, there is way more significance to the hula than the ones she discusses.)

    I've also got to say that there must be some topic which Sarah cannot somehow bring back to the Trail of Tears, but I don't know what that topic would be.

    Overall, it's an amusing, quick read but you're not really going to learn much you didn't already know about Hawaii (says the woman with the Hawaiian brother-in-law).

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    In this context, it is properly god, not God.

    It's like the difference between "hi, Mom," and "she said hi to her mom." Or "the president" and "President Obama."

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Sarah Vowell, disappointed

    Really, has she done anything original since "The Partly Cloudy Patriot"? I used to look forward to her books, but could not get through Wordy Shipmates" and now this one is just a bash America, God, and let me tell you about my nephew to excess. Sorry, used to love her, won't get fooled again.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Not her best, but still a feast for lovers of history

    In Unfamiliar Fishes, you'll find everything that you usually find in a Sara Vowell work, incisive research, witty observation and a spot on comparison between the historical subject and the modern day. I would never say that the history of Hawaii was ever a topic that I was particularly interested in, however she finds the right angles to draw the reader in and engage them in the subject matter. That being said (and I hope that I am not the only Sarah Vowell fan that is disappointed by this), I really believe that the Trail of Tears is the definitive subject matter that seems geared toward Vowell's interests and strengths. Don't get me wrong, I believe that Unfamiliar Fishes is an interesting read, one could argue it is a vague sequel to the Wordy Shipmates, but its limited in scope and, again, touches upon similar themes to her last book.

    Also, what's her deal with New Englanders? I once drove up to Northampton, MA and went to one of her speaking events...her reception of the audience, as well as, her approach to the event was completely cold...its like she wanted to get out of there as soon as possible...considering her constant digs in the past two books, I have a feeling its not just based on history....

    Also....its god with a small g

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    History of Hawaii

    If you like Sarah Vowell, you will like this history of Hawaii. Since Hawaii is my favorite vacation spot, I try to learn of its history and relate to its inhabitants. Vowell deals with the imperialistic takeover of Hawaii and retells native stories through her unique wit (and sarcasm). The diehard star-spangled patriot may cringe, but Vowell has done her homework. I find no fault with her facts. She makes history enticing and forces the reader to view it from a non-textbook perspective. Her storytelling is irresistable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Amazing

    She takes a difficult, painful chapter in U.S. history and relays it in a witty, sarcastic manner that is sure to grab the attention of today's slightly jaded readers. Sure to make those who thought they knew the history of Hawai' i think twice....maybe even three times

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

    Just another why I hate America book

    I started reading this book with such high hopes. I was not familiar with this author but the reviews were amazing. Sadly, wihtin the first 20 pages, I realized where this book was going. Yeah, I get it, American imperialism was bad. However, the condescending tone and obvious hatred of our beloved country and religion oozed from every pore of this book. I have since learned that Ms. Vowell is an NPR America basher. I would have loved a straight up history book, even showing the ugly side of America's actions, just without the caustic rhetoric.

    1 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 3, 2011

    i want sarah vowell

    to be my girlfriend

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    Love this book! Loaned it to someone who taught Hawaiian history

    Love this book! Loaned it to someone who taught Hawaiian history and she said it was good, which was high praise.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Wow

    Im five feet tall 11 years d and weight 321 lbs no jok

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    To kitty

    Its nothing but a prank i pulled on someone yesterday just ignore it. Sorry!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    ?

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Shadow

    Growls at a fish and tackles it, devouring every bite.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Rogue

    "It's a pack. It is peaceful", he barks in a raspy voice.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Mistyclaw

    Waits

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Elders Den

    Elders Den

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 102 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)