Mark Panek’s masterpiece is a harrowing account of the life and death of a quintessential local boy—Waikāne’s Percy Kipapa. More than this, the book dMark Panek’s masterpiece is a harrowing account of the life and death of a quintessential local boy—Waikāne’s Percy Kipapa. More than this, the book delves deep into the root causes of Kipapa’s eventual slide and murder, shedding a brilliant light on the systemic problems that plague Hawaiians in contemporary society. Part loving tribute to a great friend and man, and part damning look at the long-term cultural failures of “New Hawaiʻi,” Mark Panek’s captivating book gracefully weaves together a truly local narrative connecting the death of Percy Kipapa with Hawaiʻi’s shady history of unchecked land development, political corruption, the ice epidemic, and the slow erosion of local values.
The book focuses on the life of Percy Kipapa, a man who was so “full of aloha,” that his given sumo name, Daiki, translates into Big Happiness. By inserting himself into the story, Panek allows us to enter into Percy’s world, creating an emotional bond not only with this modern Hawaiian warrior, but with everything that he represents—his family, the ʻāina, and his local, Hawaiian values. At the same time, Panek’s investigative journalism is well-documented and logically constructed, providing the reader with important questions and rationally answering them without making grand speculative claims, culminating in an excellently transcribed and climactic murder trial.
By interlacing detailed investigation and analysis, first-hand experiences, and masterful writing, Mark Panek’s Big Happiness proves to be one of the most socially important and poignant books to come out of Hawaiʻi in recent memory....more
This book is meticulously researched; Coffman goes above and beyond in culling resources to push forward his main arguments. He derives his conclusionThis book is meticulously researched; Coffman goes above and beyond in culling resources to push forward his main arguments. He derives his conclusions using an abundance of quotes and references from various primary and secondary sources. It’s not just Coffman’s analysis or opinions on display; with every paragraph, he manages to make points, create questions, settle arguments, and move forward the narrative with finely crafted references. It’s truly a dual-nation analysis as he not only covers the events and personalities involved in the plot to annex Hawai’i to the United States, but also analyzes the motives and actions of many key players in Washington D.C. Theodore Roosevelt and his rise to power is an ongoing narrative in the book that parallels the growing push of the United States toward an expansionist and militaristic policy. On the other end of the spectrum, Coffman also makes it a point to wipe away the historical notion that the overthrow and annexation were met with very little resistance. In "Nation Within" he references numerous sources pointing to a very strong, patriotic and intelligent Native Hawaiian resistance that existed to oppose the encroachment of their land by the proponents of annexation.