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4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  57,845 Ratings  ·  1,168 Reviews
"[A] mammoth epic of the islands, [a] vast panorama, wonderful."
America's preeminent storyteller, James Michener, introduced an entire generation of readers to a lush, exotic world in the Pacific with this classic novel. But it is also a novel about people, people of strength and character; the Polynesians; the fragile missionaries; the Chinese, Japanese,
Mass Market Paperback, 1056 pages
Published September 12th 1986 by Random House, Inc. (first published 1959)
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Heatherfive Yes, it's a very long novel that is worth the investment of time and focus. I started on this months ago, took a break and came back to it. I am so…moreYes, it's a very long novel that is worth the investment of time and focus. I started on this months ago, took a break and came back to it. I am so glad I did!
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Aug 29, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
My 10th grade reading teacher "Mrs. Fine" introduced me to this very large book. I only took her class "Hooked on Books" because I thought it was and easy A. Read several books, do book reports, get a grade. Hawaii was the first book she chose for me. I read the 1st 50 pages... no dialouge, just info about how the island was formed by volcanos. I went back to complain that it was boring, she encouraged me to keep reading... next 50 pages, just as boring, natives from other lands discovering Hawa ...more
Jeffrey Keeten

I picked up this book in the library and one of the things I noticed first about the book was that the edges of the pages have become soft from the hands and fingers of hundreds of readers. The book has been rebound in one of those lovely flat blue library covers. In the back Marsha left her phone number on a yellow sticky note which I have suspicions might be for a support group for those that have started and failed to finish reading Hawaii.

937 pages later I can say that this book is a two s
Rhiannon Lawrence
I needed a bottle of wine and some stimulants to get through this one, and I'm Hawaiian! The opening is enthralling but skip the entire middle section. I couldn't get past the missionary section and had to keep a barf bucket close by... I loved the rest.
Nov 25, 2015 Aloke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Michener book I've read and I found it to be quite unique. It's a pretty huge book but reads quickly. Despite being fictional it feels like non-fiction and sent me to Wikipedia countless times looking for real life equivalents of the characters and events. The author's ideas and world view come through pretty strongly especially since large chunks of the story are told by an omniscient narrator. It was also a bit jarring, but probably accurate, to see how racist many of the cha ...more
Sep 10, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book, but it had my eternal problem with Michener. The modern stuff is just so much more boring than the older stuff, and it goes off on ridiculous tangents that go nowhere. It is especially frustrating here, because the core story is wonderful. Each chapter, of the first four, is great, the first deals with the Polynesians, then the Missionaries, then the Chinese, then Japanese. Each focuses primarily on one family, with other characters woven in, and he has such a knack for cr ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never read any of Michener's work and now, at the end of this 1130 page, ultra-fine print book, I feel as if I just run a marathon, but, my feet don't hurt. I've invested 3 weeks of my life with this book and I'm so glad I did. I enjoyed it and I'm so glad I read it after visiting Hawaii. What I kept thinking while reading it, though, was this man wrote dozens of books this long, with this much research. How in the heck did he do it? This book got right to the heart of many of the questions ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this was a monumental task: I started it on the plane to Hawaii in mid August and finished it on October 1st!!I nearly didn't make it through the first chapter about the formation of the islands, but I'm glad I persevered. Michener takes us from Tahiti (Bora Bora) to the arrival of the missionaries, the Chinese, and the Japanese. There are a number of marvelous characters (Char Nyuk Tsin is my favorite) and set pieces. Michener is especially good at moments of high tension, which are amp ...more
Nov 01, 2013 Tony61 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, history
I had never read any Michener before but having just returned from a vacation to Kona I was interested in how the islands first got populated. Several articles I read referred to James Michener as a careful historian of Hawaii and since this book is considered one of his best, I borrowed it from the library. The book is beastly long-- 1000 pages-- but is actually a collection of four separate stories that stretch from the geological formation of Hawaii up through the attainment of statehood in 1 ...more
Jul 22, 2015 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They should put a photo of this book in the dictionary beside the definition of epic because epic it is. Covering the history of hawaii and even the prehistory, Michener covers every aspect of what shaped the tropical islands from volcanoes to war to the myriad people who lived there. Michener humanizes his history by telling the stories of individuals and their families, their ambitions, and their reactions to the changing world. While it is a very long book, I would highly recommend it. Think ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Daavid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the history of Hawaii; Every James Michener reader
An intensely but beautiful read, this one ! :) :)

Six chapters, that have their own throughput.

From the Boundless Deep, is such a well-put story of the process of how the geological forces through their temporally long ages brought forth into being the beautiful islands that would be later called as 'Hawaii'. :)

From the Sun-Swept Lagoon, is the story of the people of the Polynesian Islands, their fights, their gods, their ideas, and how they (from the island of Bora Bora) eventually
Dec 04, 2012 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James A. Michener is a master storyteller if I've ever come across one; he is truly in a league of his own. (But then again, I don't normally read from cover to cover books longer than 500 pages, let alone 900, so who am I to say?) My God, what a book!

He began his story with the volcanic activity that formed the landmass that became Hawaii, and three pages in, it was already becoming obvious why this book was so damn long. But then again, who's ever described the formation of islands as a consum
Nov 19, 2013 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This was my second Michener. I read "Alaska" last spring in preparation for traveling through that state. That book provided me with not facts but with a sort of historical frame of reference--from early pre-history to state-hood--through which to view the place and the people. I wanted the same for my trip to Hawaii.

While I feel reluctant to dedicate myself to 1,000 pages because it precludes dipping into other books for the duration, this book provided quite compelling reading. (I needed to r
Jan 04, 2015 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe I've just got around to reading my first Michener! After I get done kicking myself,I'm going to pick out another one. He's a fabulous storyteller!
Mary Sue
Aug 11, 2008 Mary Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy multi-generational stories, and those who want to learn about our most exotic state.
I first read this novel in the 1970's. I became very interested in our 50th state and have traveled there several times since. If you have seen the movie, trust me you need to read the book. Michner likes to take the way-back machine all the way to the formation of the islands, then the arrival of flora and fauna and eventually to the arrival of the original Hawaiian's from Bora Bora. The strong parts of the book are the conflict of cultures as new groups arrive. Melting pot is a lovely concept, ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this epic many years ago, and it is one of the few that I hope to read again in the near future. As with many of Micheners books, I felt that it was tedious getting through the earlier chapters, and probably one of the longest books I've ever read, but very well worth the effort!
Jul 23, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The writing was pretty good, but after 300 pages I couldn't see myself doing that for another 700. Lots of Idontgiveafuck in this. I really couldn't handle the Calvinist perspective. They simply use the G-word (view spoiler) too much here.
Mar 05, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Hawaii fans
The huge description of the epic saga of Hawaii since its discovery by some natives coming from Bora Bora up to the birth of an American state.
Sian Jones
If someone had handed me this book and said, Here's a weird cult novel from the 1950s, I would have believed them. But instead this one comes to me with the full recommendation of long-lived American best seller. A best seller for years! Structurally alone, the book is an anomaly, divided into three-hundred page "chapters" -- each of which changes dramatically in tone and focus. The first chapter reads like a scifi novella about the formation of the Hawaiian islands; I kept waiting for a space s ...more
August 7, 2014

A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of Hawaii: A Novel by James A. Michener

A couple of years ago, I began reading Chesapeake by Michener and got so bored with the geological formation of the Chesapeake Bay and its surroundings, that I put the book down. Concluding in my mind “well, maybe someday I’ll read this book”. After completing the reading of Hawaii, I looked through all my books trying to find Chesapeake, to no avail, especially after several moves. I learned that I have to finish
I am a huge fan of historical fiction. And would you believe it – this is my first Michener novel! It didn’t take me long to realize that I had been missing out. Hawaii gripped me from the first pages and despite being over 900 pages long, I was sad to see it end.

Hawaii is composed of large chapters – even novellas, if you will, that connect to form the history of the islands. From the lyrical prose of the first chapter, From the Boundless Deep, which describes the geological formation of the is
Hawaii was the first Michener novel I read, more because of my interest in Hawaii the place than in the novel or writer. Having traveled there in 1967 for a short visit, I wasn't able to appreciate the beauty and culture as I should have.

Michener, for those of you who are familiar with his writing, was fanatical about detail. His histories start with the dawn of man, or in this case the rising of lava out of the depths of the ocean, and proceed on to present day, with interesting fictional stori
“But have you heard what I said about land reform?” he pressed.
“That’s what we’re talking about,” Noelani said in her precise Bostonian accent.
“You would hurt your father very much if you were active in my campaign,” Shigeo warned. “As a matter of fact, you would probably hurt me, too.”
“I studied politics at Wellesley,” she replied firmly.
“Were you at Wellesley?” he asked. “While you were at Harvard,” she said.

A lot of the characters were annoying, but in the way that a lot of people in real
Ellen Gemmill
Mar 23, 2010 Ellen Gemmill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot say enough good about this book. The relationships, the sagas, the history - it could have been overwhelming and dry in the hands of a less accomplished writer. But James Michener is the master - even going as far as to include geneological charts to help the reader keep the families straight, as well as to lend an air of verismo to the book. This is by far my favorite Michener novel, and the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I just couldn't get through the very beginning, ...more
Susan Ozmore
I debated on 4 or 5 stars for this book. I really enjoyed it as I have the other Michener books I've read in the past, but there were a couple of places where it slowed down for me. What I loved about it were the characters. Although one of the places where it slowed down was with the introduction of the missionaries, I even came to appreciate the old missionary Abner Hale by the end. I enjoyed the ethnic diversity of the characters and the varied depictions of those people who could accept othe ...more
Stewart Mitchell
May 10, 2016 Stewart Mitchell rated it really liked it
When your grandpa hands you a 1200 page book and tells you to read it, and that he'd like to talk about it with you, you have three choices: 1) cry and don't read it, 2) cry and then read it, or 3) kill yourself. I chose option 2.

This book is an epic of historical fiction, spanning over the course of literally millions of years and following a large and memorable cast of characters as the islands are formed, settled, and expanded. It is broken up into six sections, each basically their own book
Read this decades ago and yet recall the book like it was yesterday. What a masterful storyteller Michener is. I used to joke about each book starting at the beginning of time, but he has an amazing way of making the reader care and then developing interesting characters to relate fascinating histories. I'll reread them all when I retire.
Larry Bassett
This is one of the first adult books I read when I was a young teenager. I was quite impressed with myself and with how thick the book was. Although I enjoyed reading it (Were there some partially naked women in it?) I avoided books with many pages for quite a long time after that. To this day I am impressed when I read a long book.
Mar 14, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
Recommended to Erin by: Lisa
Wowzers! This was a long one, but a good one. It is definitely worth reading and it takes so long that you are able to get really invested in it. My lines between fiction and reality were definitely blurred! I just wondered how much of the book was based on the real evolution of Hawaii because it's how I like to learn my history.
Mar 21, 2016 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Michener in middle school. His sense of language and his storytelling is just as rich today. Nothing can beat the first chapter of Hawaii. I wanted to reread this book to prepare for our June trip to the islands. Now I have a much better sense of Hawaiian history as well as a reminder of a richly developed story.
Sep 12, 2015 Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hawaii
Michener wrote a massive, in depth love letter about Hawaii in this book. No one could have spent this long on a subject with out having an abiding regard for it. The narrative isn't always flattering for any one group of people but does give a comprehensive history of a truly unique and magical place.
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for t
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“It was his opinion that a man had to wait until he was dead to know the meaning of God, unless he happened to have known the sea in his youth.” 5 likes
“This is the greatest evil that grows out of a wrong act. Somebody always remembers it … in an evil way.” 2 likes
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