So this is my second Sarah Vowell audiobook this year. They’ve so far not been OMG have to read! But they’re quick, entertaining, and I learn a little something on my commutes. And they’re often on sale on Audible which makes them a cheap little pick me up.
This time we have Unfamiliar Fishes, the story of the Americanization of Hawaii. Starting with Captain Cook discovering the islands, through the first missionaries arriving (from New England of course!) to their grandchildren annexing Hawaii to the United States almost a century later Vowell covers a little over 100 years of Hawaiian history.
She deftly (as usual) weaves together her archival research with her own modern adventures speaking to locals/authorities on these subjects. Once again she uses actors to give voice to historical writings, and it makes the figures of yore into real people. I enjoyed her relating the coming of the missionaries and their hope to spread the Bible, to just two generations later tearing about the Hawaiian government. It’s a great parallel for the overwhelming change that occurred in the 19th century as a whole. My one complaint, and I’ve found this now with both of Vowell’s books, is I wanted more. While this snippet of history is interesting, I wanted more into the 20th century especially how Hawaii went from territory to statehood, but I guess that’s now on myself to research and learn.
Anywho, if you’re at all interested in Hawaiian history, or just want to learn something new Vowell’s books are full of many little facts. I shall definitely be trying more of hers as my commute time will triple in upcoming months.