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Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  522 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
First colonized around 200 A.D. by intrepid Polynesian islanders, Hawaii existed for hundreds of years in splendid isolation. Foreigners did not visit the islands until 1788, when Captain Cook, looking for the fabled Northwest Passage, stumbled upon this nation with its own belief system and culture. Three decades later, fourteen Calvinist missionaries left Boston bound fo ...more
Audiobook - Audible Download, 415 pages
Published 2012 by Brilliance Audio (first published December 13th 2011)
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When you stop to think about it, it's pretty insane that Hawai‘i is a state at all. I mean – it's not even in the Americas. There was no cultural link between the islands and the United States. And it wasn't like the Wild West – land that you just naturally stumbled onto while expanding into your manifest destiny. You really had to head out there into the middle of the Pacific and look for the place.

And many did, quite assiduously. Guidebooks and histories will tell you that the fiftieth state w
Robert Spillman
Dec 15, 2012 Robert Spillman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a little difficult listening to this wonderfully-told story of Hawaii's transformation from an island paradise to an American territory. The desire for money and power, and therefore land, is pervasive in this transition. I loved the quip concerning the missonaries who came to the islands but often took up commerical enterprises since the opportunites were great. The natives quipped "Those who came to do good, did well."

It was a little difficult starting the book because it seemed like i
Kaela Louie
Dec 20, 2013 Kaela Louie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I would absolutely recommend this book to someone who wants to know about Hawaiian history. This book introduces the reader to Hawaiian vocabulary as well as famous Hawaiian Royalty. Before you even start the actual book, the introduction punches you in the face with some exceptionally interesting prehistoric Hawaiian culture. I learned that the Hawaiian people migrated over to the islands from places like Fiji and Tahiti. They were also known for sacrificing themselves in order to make the godd

Carl R.
Feb 18, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First visited by foreigners in when Captain James Cook arrived in 1778, Hawaii was already an established society with a thriving culture and economy. The arrival of Christian missionaries thirty years later and the subsequent conversion of the Royal Family to Christianity was only the first link in a chain of events that eventually led to the American military annexation of this sovereign nation in America's first act of international imperialism beyond its own borders.

Award-winning journalist
Sep 29, 2011 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Siler strikes again! I fell in love with this author's writing in her book The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty and her writing is just as thorough, intense and gripping in this book on the history of Hawaii. This book gives an excellent depiction on why our 50th state is, hands down, our best state in regards to history and culture. I just cannot wait for her next book!! Her writing always entertains me!
Mar 07, 2012 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hawai’i has been a U.S. state for just over fifty years; but its history is far longer, more complex and more contentious than most likely realize. Julia Flynn Siler’s Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure skillfully makes the case of the unfortunate effects of American imperialism on both Hawai’i’s monarchy and its inhabitants – the effects of which are still in evidence today.

Following in a series of recently published histories elaborating
Tammy Dotts
As America expanded beyond its original 13 colonies, almost all new states and territories were added through treaties, purchases or by claiming land the U.S. government felt no one owned. Texans will tell you their state was an independent country before annexation although Mexico refused to acknowledge its independence.

Then there’s Hawaii. The chain of islands, annexed in 1898, was originally a series of island kingdoms before being unified in 1810 under Kamehameha I after a series of battles.
May 28, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't know anything of Hawaii's monarchy or the missionaries and sugar kings that laid waste to Hawaiian cultures in ALL aspects-- this book will fill in all the blank spaces. Most of us know Hawaii as a tourist paradise, Barack Obama's birthplace and the location of numerous movies and television programs. The fate of the the last serving queen of the monarchy --Queen Lilo'uokalani is truly heart breaking. But her strength of character, her love of her home and her people shine through. ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fascinating book about the history of Hawaii leading up to its annexation by the United States covers some of the same material as Sarah Vowell’s recent and also wonderful book, Unfamiliar Fishes, but Lost Kingdom goes into greater detail, especially about the life of Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last queen. Lili’uokalani was educated by missionaries and devoutly Christian, but that didn’t cause her to demean her native arts and customs which she supported, celebrated and led. She wrote the love ...more
Disclaimer: I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway in the expectation that I would write a review of it.

This is not the happy story of how altruistic Americans freed the Hawaiian people from tyranny. (I'm sure there is such a book, somewhere.) It is, however, a well-researched look at the life and times of Lili'u, the last queen of Hawai'i.

Hawai'i's time as an independent kingdom was relatively short, with no one thinking to unite the islands before the coming of Westerners and the almost
Karen Ireland-Phillips
The life story of Lili’uokalani, the last queen of Hawai’i, deftly frames the narrative of this diligently researched and accessible history.
The islands of Hawai’i, a Polynesian kingdom of great beauty, were united by King Kamehameha about 1810 as an early constitutional monarchy. Western merchants and missionaries introduced Christianity - and diseases against which the Hawaiians had no defense.
While careful not to demonize, Stiler shows how the ambition and greed of the sons and daughters of
Feb 17, 2012 Phyllis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read
I received this book through the First Reads program.

Years ago, I read and loved the fiction book of "Hawaii" by James Michener. His stories of Hawaii from the creation to modern times started my interest in Hawaii and their history. The nonfiction, "Lost Kingdom: The Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure" by Julia Flynn Siler was just as intriguing to me as the fiction version. To meet the rulers of Hawaii and see how an actual nation was lost to imperialism is a dr
Mar 08, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book in a GoodReads giveaway, but I would have read it anyway. Julia Flynn Siler does a good job on a complex subject, tying all the threads together to show how the United States eventually annexed Hawaii. I was familiar with the general story of the Hawaiian monarchy but not the myriad details explained in Lost Kingdom. Ms. Siler's writing style made for easy reading, and I appreciated her extensive footnotes and bibliography. She clearly did the necessary research, and I enjoy ...more
Absolutely fascinating book about the last queen of Hawaii.Imperialism is such a touchy subject we see the US being "democratic" in so many ways around the world. In Hawaii, the US wasn't so democratic and behaved as an imperialist power.
Feb 13, 2012 Marissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book managed to make the history of 19th century Hawaii boring. This could have been a wonderful book in the hands of a better writer. Got a third of the way through before I gave up. Life is simply too short to spend it slogging through books I don't enjoy. :/
Edward Sullivan
A fascinating, richly detailed, and vividly told chronicle of how greedy white businessmen conspired to depose the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii and overthrow the sovereign government, leading to annexation by the United States in 1898.
Apr 22, 2013 Lcitera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would say this book is valuable reading to anyone fascinated by Hawaii or planning a visit. Our 50th state has a history much different from any other part of the United States. The Hawaiian royals, the role of the missionaries, and the sugar plantations and the focus. Lots of information.
Aug 01, 2012 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a fascinating look at Hawaiian history and the reign of Lili'uokalani and her family. Siler does such a good job with the characters and the story just seems to flow. If you are interested in Hawaii then this is the book for you. I won this from Goodreads.
Apr 30, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dry and fascinating report on the beginning of imperial America. ... I'm happy that Hawaii is part of the US, but did it have to happen this way?
Apr 03, 2012 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history readers, esp. U.S. history and those interesting in Hawaii
I will start by saying that I was in the mood to read a good, solid history book, and this definitely fit the bill. In addition, I did not know much about the history of Hawaii prior to it being annexed by the U.S., and this book did a great job in filling that gap for me. The neat thing about reading it is that it "reads" like a fiction piece in the sense that it has a good narrative, and it will engage you.

Siler's book tells the tale of Hawaii from the time when Cook landed on the islands tha
I wanted so desperately to like this book. When I saw it on the shelf with its bright turquoise cover I immediately snatched it up. But now, after forcing myself to finish it, I find myself largely underwhelmed. Two stars from this reviewer.

Lost Kingdom says on its cover that it is about Hawaii's last queen, the sugar kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure. I'd say to an extent it's about those things, but largely it was about the Queen Lili'uokalani. The history covered a little bit abou
Jul 28, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hawai’i (fn1) has been of great interest to me since 1975 when I first visited these wonderful islands. My knowledge of its flora, fauna and history was initially shaped by good tourism literature. This background was greatly enhanced for a ten year period during which I had the honor and pleasure of representing two Hawai’i governors in Washington on aviation matters; many briefings and just friendships with my official contacts took that superficial and somewhat glazed view of the islands and ...more
Vera Cobb
Sep 25, 2016 Vera Cobb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting history about how Hawaii became a state. Writing style could have been a bit more enlivening, but gave me a better understanding of the history over all. A bit disappointed that the bill mentioned at the books end (in 2012) hasn't been passed in any form as yet.
Feb 17, 2012 Blue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways-won
I got this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thanks!

I am going to agree with those who found the book written in a disorganized fashion and in a way that makes a fascinating part of Pacific history utterly boring.

My first main problem was not the language that Siler uses, but more her idea structure (or lack there of). On page 49, she tells us about a ball where the future queen dances. Reading this paragraph, I didn't think much about this dancing. The following paragraph, thoug
Nov 20, 2013 Trudy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The trouble over sovereignty begins, of course with the introduction to the west by Captain Cook, the advent of the missionaries, and the western struggle to secure Hawaii's strategic position for themselves, the primary contenders being Britain and the US. The last of the direct descendants of Kamehameha I, Lumalilo, died without an heir. His possible successors were Queen Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV and supporter of the British and David Kalakaua, Liliu's brother who had some diplomatic and p ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful tale of Hawaii's interaction with the outside world, first by Captain Cook who was killed for shooting a Hawaiian and called by the outsiders the Sandwich Islands to the deposition of a queen and annexation by the United States of America. Missionaries from the the US and Britain were most influential and anxiety was always present when one country seemed to get more influence than the other. Diseases brought by outsiders deciminated the native people and it was common to intermarry in ...more
Sarah Sammis
Lost Kingdom by Julia Flynn is a look at the Hawaiian monarchy through the life of Lydia K. Dominis, also known as Queen Lili'uokalani.

Siler outlines how Western influences both in terms of the British navy, Christian missionaries, the sugar barons and later the United States shaped Hawaiian culture. The loosely knit chiefdoms were consolidated into a monarchy but it never really got a chance to take hold. By the time Lydia was Queen Lili'uokalani, the monarchy was mostly a figurehead of the sug
Aug 05, 2014 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really good. Not amazing, but interesting and informative about yet another ugly little chapter of American culture that's been swept under the rug by the flag-wavers. I'm saddened by the events that took place there at that time so that's why I'm not exactly cheering this book as well as it may deserve. It's somewhat depressing really, and the sign of an honest biography. To be fair, it was more than good, and I shouldn't let my post-perusal spirit color against how competently the boo ...more
Oct 12, 2011 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-vine
I read Siler’s book because I like history, but I realized I know very little about Hawai’i. Her book seems very well researched, and you can tell that she’s passionate about Liliu’s life and legacy.

I’m having trouble putting my finger on it, but for some reason I had a lot of trouble getting into the book, though. I haven’t read a lot of history books, but I don’t think it was just that – I devoured Miriam Weinstein’s Yiddish: A Nation of Words, but reading Lost Kingdom was, well, a lot easier
Isabella Tugman
Jan 19, 2012 Isabella Tugman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through a Goodreads First-Reads giveaway. Thank you!

In studying American History in school, I don't recall hearing much about the annexation of Hawaii. This account of Hawaiian history is a compelling tale of Hawaii's overthrow. I loved the writing, and found the book to be well-paced and entertaining to a point where sometimes I found myself gasping aloud or exclaiming "Nooo!"

Throughout the book I found myself sympathizing greatly with Hawaiians and their leaders...because
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Julia Flynn Siler is the author of The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, published by Penguin’s Gotham Books in June, 2007.

A graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Ms. Flynn Siler began her career as a staff correspondent for BusinessWeek, working in the magazine’s Los Angeles and Chicago bureaus. She wrote about Midwest
More about Julia Flynn Siler...

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“As Americans gained a new belief in their manifest destiny around the globe, Hawaiians lost their country, the first sovereign nation to become a casualty of America’s imperial outreach.” 2 likes
“Lili‘u then went on to offer advice to her young niece, whom she realized was old enough to understand the burden as well as the privilege of being an ali‘i. You must learn to control your feelings, that was what saved my life. I would have worked myself up to that pitch of excitement as to have been injurious to my health and to be calm and cool at all times is the easiest way—be self possessed and it will be sure to react on the opposite party—but the true secret is to know your own worth. If you were to mould your character in everything that is upright it would be your signpost through life & carry you through many dangers that often assail us through life. It will comfort people to respect you and that is a great deal. They may not like you, still they have to respect you. But Lili‘u was wrong in one thing: although she wrote to her niece” 0 likes
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