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Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  920 ratings  ·  147 reviews

Hawai'i's Story by Hawai'i's Queen is an account of those difficult years at the end of the nineteenth century, when native Hawaiian historian David Malo's 1837 prophecy concerning "the small ones" being "gobbled up" came true for the Hawaiian Islands.

When this book was first published in 1898, it was an international plea for justice. Just as Admiral Thomas had restored

Paperback, 424 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Mutual Publishing (first published 1898)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who care about native cultures in the US, Hawaii travelers
Required reading for visitors to the Hawaiian Islands, IMO. Written by Hawaii's last queen, a very eloquent, worldly, and loving Victorian woman. She speaks directly, and in a somewhat formal Victorian manner. She tells of how she was essentially framed by US advisers whom she trusted and who had profited from her and her country's generosity. She was arrested, imprisoned, and forced to abdicate. Her possessions were all ransacked and stolen. She bears no bitterness, only disbelief at the Christ ...more
The government of the Sandwich Islands appears to have passed from the hands of the king into the hands of a military oligarchy that is more domineering than Kalakaua ever was. Before the recent revolt of the Europeans in Honolulu the press of the city was very plain-spoken. It printed unadorned truths about the king, and the latter made no effort to suppress such unpleasant utterances. Now, under the new régime, the newspapers are kept in check with military thoroughness. It seems incredible
I was pretty excited to read Liliuokalani's memoirs after reading Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes, which details the history of Hawaii's annexation to the United States. Vowell consistently references Liliuokalani as a source, and I imagined her memoirs would be full of Hawaiian history and interesting anecdotes from her life. However - and this is my bad - I didn't take into account that Liliuokalani primarily wrote this for a contemporary audience as a plea for Hawaiian independence. Given th ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this autobiography of the last reigning queen in Hawaii before the monarchy was dismantled by agents of the U.S. quite interesting. 3.5 stars
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
There are two ways to read this: as a literary autobiography, and as a "plea for justice" as the introduction suggests. As a literary work, the book drones on in a "and this happened, and this happened, and this happened" sort of way. There are interesting parts, but the writing is very dry and dull. As a protest book, on the other hand, the book is compelling and utterly heartfelt. We have to sympathize with the Queen when she begs the United States to give her people back their islands and sov ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Amazing. The last third of the book is quite telling of the injustices suffered by the Hawaiian people from a few business men in the name of the United States. The acquisition of Hawaii by this country was unlawful, and suited the interest of a few wealthy people while crushing the rest of the population. It's been over a hundred years, and now we know this country has adapted these policies of promoting the interests of the the few at the costs of the many at home as well. We had no business
280815: i read this many years ago- decades actually. significant for the more recent kamaaina renaissance, the recovery of hawai'ian pride. surprised that I had not put this on here, though through family history know most of the appropriation of the islands, the unavoidable american annexation- look on any globe and you will note Honolulu is more or less the exact centre of the northern pacific, so useful to Europeans, to Americans, to whaling ships of moby dick era, to nuclear submarines and ...more
Sandi Banks
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
After a wonderful trip to the Big Island in March I was ready to read about Hawaiian history. I read Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. This inspired me to learn more. I wanted to read Queen Liliuokalani's memoir.

This was not an easy read. It was written in the late 1890s soon after the Hawaiian Islands was annexed by the United States . Liliuokalani was the last Hawaiian monarch who ruled islands. She thought this annexation unjust
bullying from the American business men whose missionary fathe
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-our-trip
I've visited and loved the four major islands over the years, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't fully understand Hawaii's history. The last queen's firsthand written account of how the missionary oligarchy stole the islands from the Hawaiians is a real revelation. When we visit again this Fall, I'm sure I'll see this beautiful paradise with new eyes, and I'll NEVER look at a can of Dole pineapple the same way. ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book can be clearly divided into two parts: from Liliuokalani's childhood to Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and from then until the annexation of Hawai'i.

The first part of the book is woefully lacking in detail. Liliuokalani declines to describe Hawai'ian food, customs, or scenery (beyond one memorable description of lava). I read every word and yet came away without a fuller understanding of Hawai'ian culture or customs. Instead, Liliuokalani praises her friends and the "delightful" parties th
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book has touched me in many ways. Being of Hawaiian ancestery and reading this book made me really re-think the way I thought about my culture and my people. Knowing all that has happend in my people's history is unbelievable. I encourage anyone of hawaiian descent or anyone who is just amazed by hawaiian history to read this book. ...more
Wendy Jackson
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am having a hard time writing this review. Instead of sharing my thoughts and impressions of the book itself, I am holding back a raging, unhinged tirade about the injustice that is Hawaiian history after the arrival of the American missionaries. Honestly, at times I had to put the book down because the sheer criminality of what happened is so blatant (you would think I would be inured given the near entirety of US foreign policy, but no). The only comparator that comes to mind is the occupati ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I heard about Queen Lili'uokalani when I was about four or five years old, from my mother who played the ukulele. (When I say "heard about," I basically learned how to pronounce her exotic name and ran around the house for a few days saying, "Lee-lee-oo-oh-kaLAAAAAHnee!" over and over again until my poor mother probably went into the ironing room and shut herself in with her little instrument to drown me out. And it wasn't until I read this memoir that I pieced together that the queen herself wr ...more
Nicole Finch
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is mostly a memoir and partly a travelogue by Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last independent sovereign. It's written in formal Victorian English, which can be hard to follow, but I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. Zeller was the perfect narrator for this book--her tone really brought out the story and the emotion in the book. I could actually hear her smiling when Liliuokalani was recounting joyful experiences, and she brought just the right amount of sarcasm to the pointed ...more
Krystelle Zuanic
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Queen Lili'uokalani provides the reader a fascinating look into colonisation and the effects of the American expansion (as it is called) from the perspective of the affected in the equation. There isn't much history that is often seen that one can read from the perspective of the individuals who lose out in these circumstances, but this book covers the gamut eloquently and heart-renderingly. Perhaps most baffling here is Queen Lili'uokalani's willingness to leave final judgment to G-d and not pr ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting, informative read. Written by Queen Liliuokalani as a testament to the unlawful removal of the Hawaiian monarchy by Americans, it provides a lot of detail but sometimes is quite dry as she gives many lists of names of people who helped or obstructed the native Hawaiian cause. I honestly, prior to reading this, had never given a thought on the origins of the state of Hawaii, but after reading the Queen's perspective, I feel that the United States acted shamefully and aggre ...more
Valerie Brett
This took me so long to read! At times it's terribly tedious, but I think it's invaluable that the queen diligently recorded her experience. She has a way of at times beautifully describing things; you can tell she took pleasure in the beauty of life, nature, music. ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for those who want to know about the real Hawai’i, and hope to understand a bit more about the historical harm native Hawaiians have suffered.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great to read Hawaii's history from a different point view. It makes me sad and angry how indigenous people have been treated by white men. ...more
Well.... How to review this book?
I read it out loud to my students at our Hawaiian immersion school, 7th to 12th graders, in preparation for our annual Eo E Liliu song competition. This year for the first time our students wrote original compositions honoring the last queen of Hawaii. Usually we just learn songs that she wrote or that were written in her honor like Kaulana Na Pua, Ke Ai Na Alii, Anapau etc etc et. Her songs are legion.

Queen Liliuokalani sits so prettily in her black and white
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is important to understand going in that this isn't a history of Hawaii. It is part memoir, and part cry of injustice, by Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. It is written in a very formal, and at times dull, 18th century style.
The Queen devotes the first part of the book to explaining how she came to be monarch - both her upbringing as part of the Hawaii royal elite in the mid-19th Century, the ascent of her family to the throne with the crowning of her cousin David Kelakaua (who was supported by
Lili'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 wh
S. B. Letham
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible slice of history. I love reading voices of people who wrote about important issues at the time that they happened, especially those on the other side of an issue that has been long forgotten. (Few people in 2017 debate about Hawaiian independence.) Liliuokalani is gracious and generous, always pointing out those in the US who treated her with kindness and dignity, most notably President Cleveland.

The prose is colorful, as expected of a writer in the late 1800s, but not difficult to un
Jun 19, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: American Studies or Native American Studies majors,
Recommended to Shannon by: A native Hawai'ian at Borders bookstore in Kona
What began as a slow Victorian guide to the social "A" list, has developed into a riviting and pragmatic account of American Imperialism. Lilioukalani is a shrewd and astute political analyst regarding the overthrow of her government and U.S. annexation of Hawai'i.

After having just visited Hawai'i, this book really delves into the complexity of this island nation and it's place in U.S. politics during the late 19th century.

A facsincating read by a fascinating woman!
Pua Hawaiʻi Book Blog
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Controversy aside, this book is absolutely enchanting! Read about the monarchy, Hawaiian government, society and culture–-all through the eyes of a queen who lovingly describes her land and people with inspiring detail.

Read more:
Ginger Lobdell
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am so grateful to have found this book while honeymooning in Hawaii. Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen became my favorite autobiography/memoir. Queen Liliuokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii. She led a fascinating life, and I can't wait to learn more about her! ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Was this book biased? Yes. Was it rather flowery in structure? Yes. Was the bias informative? Yes. Was the rather flowery structure elegant? Yes.

Queen Liliuokalani presented her recollections of the final decades of the independent Hawaiian nation with impunity and a regal righteousness. Her ancestors’ acceptance of the Christian religion brought to the island via missionaries, instilled in her not only the faith but also many of the cultural elements of the West. Hawaiians’ naivete and hospita
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable read. Even though it is obvious how things would eventually turn out, I felt fresh anger, dismay, and heartbreak in every moment when Liliuokalani and her brother were forced to give ground to American capitalist interests.

The details of the processes shown here are often difficult for me particularly because they are so piecemeal. I find myself looking for the exact moment when the monarchy was overthrown and the missionary party gained power, going 'but they can't just do that,' a
Leonide Martin
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
First published in 1989, this first-hand account by Liliuokalani reveals the native Hawaiian experience and views during the difficult years as the 19th century ended and the Hawaiian monarchy was usurped. She wrote it as a plea for justice, hoping to win support internationally and convince U.S. President McKinley to restore the Hawaiian throne, as had been done in 1843 by U. S. Admiral Thomas following illegal action by British colonizers. But the interests of American plantation owners and en ...more
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Far surpassed my expectations.

In American schools. it is now common (which it wasn't when I was a kid) for students to learn about the darker side of American history wrt the systematic abuse of Indigenous people. However, the accounts that are frequently taught are written by historians, not by people who were there at the time. This is a direct account written by the last Hawai'ian queen about her experience at the hands of the "missionary party," a group of mostly American businessmen who eng
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Liliʻuokalani was born Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha. She was the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī, with the chosen royal name of Liliʻuokalani, and her married name was Lydia K. Dominis.

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