Lili'uokalani was the last reigning sovereign of Hawaii. In 1893, the monarchy was overthrown by a group of mainly American businessmen; in 1895, LiliLili'uokalani was the last reigning sovereign of Hawaii. In 1893, the monarchy was overthrown by a group of mainly American businessmen; in 1895, Lili'uokalani was arrested, imprisoned in Iolani Palace, and forced to abdicate the throne. Hawaii became a protectorate of the United States, and the monarchy was no more.
The book provides an interesting picture of late nineteenth century Hawaii's society and government, though the social parts are occasionally overfull of details about who visited whom and long lists of names. I especially liked the parts about Lili'uokalani's visits to England and her outsider's view of the society there. Queen Victoria showed her and her party friendship and respect, though I've read elsewhere there was racism behind the scenes, unbeknownst to the Hawaiians, when certain other sovereigns refused to escort the Hawaiians because of their skin color.
The second part of the book is more chilling. Lili'uokalani narrates the political machinations of the American businessmen who first forced her brother, King David Kalakaua, to sign the Bayonet Constitution, which stripped the monarchy of much of its remaining power and disenfranchised much of the populace. Upon Kalakaua's unexpected death, Lili'uokalani assumed the throne, but not for very long. When she tried to draft a new constitution, the opposing side took steps to neutralize her and remove her from power.
I'd call this an essential book if you're at all interested in Hawaiian history, and certainly an important book on American imperialism....more