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Hawaii

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  51,858 ratings  ·  1,025 reviews
"[A] mammoth epic of the islands, [a] vast panorama, wonderful."
THE BALTIMORE SUN
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,
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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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve Sckenda
Michener begins with the geologic formation of Hawaii and ends with its entry as the 50th state. Over the course of a thousand pages (and millions of years), we learn how many ethnic groups fought and learned to live in peace. “Hawaii” is a powerful novel, and the state is a symbol which exemplifies each of Michener’s recurring themes-- interracial harmony, tolerance, and coexistence. (I write this review in 2012 after having read this book in 1984.)

There are six long chapters, each devoted to t
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Jeffrey Keeten
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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
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Beth
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
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.
Tony61
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
Michael
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
John
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
Alice
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
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Darlene
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!
Jan
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
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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.
Diane
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!
Sharon Penman
Ths is my favorite of Michener's books. It has a compelling dramatic sweep and he creates three-dimensional characters that I cared about.
Elizabeth
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
Suzanne
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
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Mary Sue
Aug 11, 2008 Mary Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Ellen Gemmill
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
Anthony
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
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Chris
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.
Lisa
Heart-breaking.I had a very difficult time reading the sections involving the early missionaries, specifically anything including the leader Abner Hale. His condescension and arrogance were anathema to me, and made reading about him very distasteful.

The following passage illustrates the varied viewpoints presented in the early sections about the missionaries (Jerusha is Abner Hale's wife):
Actually, no missionaries in history had so far visited a gentler or finer group of people than these Hawai
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Dana Stabenow
I first read this book back in my teens, and I was in Hawaii recently and decided it was time to reread it. It has held up really well in the interim. Okay, Michener not the greatest master of the craft of writing, agreed, but he knows how to tell a story.

Here he tells a history of Hawaii through the eyes of the different races who lived it, beginning with the Polynesians who emigrated in open canoes across five thousand miles of open ocean 600 years before Prince Henry the Navigator sponsored h
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ellen
This book is an epic journey of the islands from their birth to the 20th century. It is intricately woven with characters from the first Polynesians to reach the islands to the different cultural groups that arrived in droves. There is commentary at every level about the effect of the different waves of migration. The historical aspect was absolutely fascinating. I had head that Michener was well-researched and it really feels like learning as you enjoy the soap opera of generations of character ...more
Diego Ospina
Cayo a mis manos por casualidad, nunca más deje de disfrutarlo hace ya mas de 20 años.

La narrativa de Michener nos lleva por un recorrido histórico-novelesco desde la formación en la inmensa soledad del océano pacifico de pequeñas ínsulas rocosas consecuencia de continuas emanaciones de lava que formaron piélagos a donde emigraron seres vivientes minúsculos y después los hombres. Tierra destinada a ser crisol de razas y generadora de leyendas, riquezas y cambios sociales. Una aventura fantástic
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Clint
This is a writer I consciously avoided for years and years, and I can't really give a reason why other than I just got pissed off that all his books were place names, and I hate the Cult of the Place Name. But my situation is different these days, and I take what I can get when I can, and this book was about a dollar fifty something in American money, and for the money/length-of-time-it-takes-me-to-read ratio, it was a steal. And I was pleasantly surprised by how readable and all-round kickass i ...more
Rachel
It took me 3 years to read this book. I had to read other books in between because I found it extremely frustrating to read in one go.
I originally picked up the book because I was interested in the history of the place that I love so much. It took all of that love to be motivated to finish the damn book.
I couldn't stand any of the main characters throughout the book, making it very difficult to endure (although the fact that I passionately despised them proves that Michener did a great job in d
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Jonathan
James Michener continues his global tour with Hawaii, another historical epic.

Hawaii covers the entire history of the Islands, from their discovery by their earliest inhabitants, through the first missionaries who came to spread the gospel to the islanders, to the eventual control of the USA.

You learn of the varied demographic groups of Hawaii: the Chinese, Japanese, Natives, and mainland American. It is a story of great tragedy, accomplishment, and a big love for the islands that make up the mo
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Kristie
I finally finished it! But can you believe that after all that length to the book I still found the ending lacking? It just didn't fill in the blanks the way I thought it should.

I felt the strongest part of the story was from the beginning to where the story of the first Calvinist missionaries' stories ended. I loved the stories about how the islands were formed and how the people of Bora Bora reached and settled Hawaii.

I also enjoyed the stories of the Kee family. It just started to lack dept
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Adrian
A sudden but positive conclusion. I feel like I learnt quite a bit about Hawaii's culture, but from a rather one-sided perspective. Certainly makes me want to visit. After you are several hundred pages in, each large section starts to feel like a repeat. This group immigrates, and this happens. That group immigrates, and basically the same thing happens. Also some extremely (as expected for the time, but in odd contrast with a writing style that does well at dodging racism) sexist attitudes. How ...more
Steven Kent
Boy, I don't even know how to categorize this book. Yes, it is fiction... but it is well researched. Light reading? Hah! The book starts with a 10-page introduction about how the islands were formed--and then sank before anyone ever reached them. Then you get them rising up a second time.

Michener is far more than a capable writer, he is a very good one. For me, this book simply became too long. As one generation and set of stories gave way to the next, I found myself becoming less and less attac
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Todd Stockslager
Review title: The thin white line--or thinly-whited sepulcres?
I revisited this massive epic after remembering it fondly from high school days, and it feels like riding in a classic car, or watching a pre-60's classic movie: They literally don't make them like this anymore. Novels, movies, cars are all made differently now--Smaller, faster, better in some ways, but perhaps missing a bit of something that gave the classic weight and style.

In Hawaii's case, the missing weight might be just the page
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Bookworm Buddies: Hawaii by James Michener 8 16 Sep 02, 2014 11:59PM  
The Movie... 6 42 Sep 25, 2013 04:56PM  
Reading Michener 51 194 Jul 04, 2013 02:39PM  
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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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