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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  73,598 ratings  ·  1,793 reviews
Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener brings Hawaii’s epic history vividly to life in a classic saga that has captivated readers since its initial publication in 1959. As the volcanic Hawaiian Islands sprout from the ocean floor, the land remains untouched for centuries—until, little more than a thousand years ago, Polynesian seafarers make the perilous journey a ...more
Kindle Edition, 1321 pages
Published November 26th 2013 by Random House LLC (first published November 12th 1959)
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JamesB I read “Hawaii” at age 14 when hospitalized and recuperating for an extended period. Although it was the longest book I've ever read, it was my first …moreI read “Hawaii” at age 14 when hospitalized and recuperating for an extended period. Although it was the longest book I've ever read, it was my first encounter with really great writing and was captivating from the beginning (a BIG step up from The Hardy Boys and other books I had started with around age 8). It took me a long time to read Hawaii and I admit I found parts slow, but it set me on course as a reader of all kinds of books for life.

Michener gave me an appreciation for quality writing which gave me the confidence later on to put down books I found to be lacking, even well-known books found on must-read lists. I no longer waste my time on books that are not well written and read like they were written by an average high-schooler. There are just too many good authors and good books you can read and appreciate without having to struggle for months to work through a book just to be able to say you've read it - reading is all about enjoyment, education and personal growth and thanks to Michener's “Hawaii” I got off to a good start at a young age.(less)
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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 gl…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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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  73,598 ratings  ·  1,793 reviews

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Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Jeffrey Keeten

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 tw
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HAWAII is a work of historical fiction that was first released in 1959. I am rather a late-comer to reading this novel, but it is one that I have always had on my mind to read after seeing the 1966 movie Hawaii when it was finally run on television. The only images that remain with me, at this point in my life, are one of a man walking on the beach (wearing a stovetop hat and an all black suit!), and, the beautiful Hawaiian people. Michener’s HAWAII has forever seared in my brain a history of ma ...more
Hawaii was the first Michener novel I read, more because of my interest in Hawaii the place than in the novel or writer. Having been lucky enough to travel there several times in my life, I've been fascinated in the history and culture.

Michener, for those of you not familiar with his writing, was fanatical about detail. His histories start with the dawn of man, or in this case the rising of lava out of the depths of the ocean, and proceed on to present day, with interesting fictional stories la
Aug 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made it through 234 chapters of this before deciding I could not take anymore superstition, human sacrificial gods and bigoted self-righteous American missionaries. All done at the expense of the "heathen savages" of native Hawaiians, (author's words). James Michener was a great author, but this is a complete miss. 1 of 10 stars ...more
A wonderful read and I enjoyed it just as much the second time round.
Mohsin Maqbool
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Hawaii" book cover best suited for "West Wind to Hawaii".

ON April 1 and 2 I read James A. Michener’s West Wind to Hawaii and loved it immensely. Actually, I read it in a volume of Reader's Digest Condensed Books whose editors have taken the liberty of describing the story of only the first generation of a Polynesian tribe that leaves the island of Bora Bora heading off for the North on a canoe named "West Wind to Hawaii" in search of Havaiki -- which probably became Hawaii with the passage of
Gary K Bibliophile
Hawaii - the place of my birth. My father was stationed there for a tour in the US Air Force and I just happened to be born during that time. Since we left when I was barely 18 months old I have no memories of this beautiful and enchanting place. So many years later and although I had a connection to the island I really only have the most basic knowledge of its history. I had always wanted to read some Michener... and figured that this would give me a chance to try out his writing style as well ...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. ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
As in all of Michener's books, this is a sweeping story of the history of Hawai'i from the precolonial period until today. The characters are a bit two-dimensional but the story is still fascinating and it makes you want to fly to Honolulu, sweep away the hordes of Japanese tourists and try to imagine it without all the horrid hotels littering the littoral towards Diamond Head. ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

Sigh…… I have heard such marvelous things about Michener that I have acquired quite a few of his books over the years as I found them on sale here and there. Yet, this was the first one I settled in to read, eagerly anticipating it as I have an extended trip to Hawaii coming up just around the corner.

The first chapter was interesting, as he discussed the geologic formation of the Hawaiian islands and what was going on elsewhere in the world at the time. And then cha
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Michener book I've read and I found it to be quite unique. It's a pretty huge book but reads quickly. Despite being fictional it feels like non-fiction and sent me to Wikipedia countless times looking for real life equivalents of the characters and events. The author's ideas and world view come through pretty strongly especially since large chunks of the story are told by an omniscient narrator. It was also a bit jarring, but probably accurate, to see how racist many of the cha ...more
Terence M
I bought this book during my first trip to Hawaii in 1980 and started reading while I was there.
Forty years later, I do not remember a great deal about the book, except for the influence of the missionaries and, later the Japanese. Also, while it was a very long book, I remember it as being quite enjoyable.

A GR friend recently 'liked' my having read Hawaii (thank you, Beata😙), so here I am, making my own minor contribution.

Jeffrey Keeten's review is, as usual, eloquently written and informative
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction
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
Blaine DeSantis
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Probably a 4.5**** for me. Written back in 1954, Hawaii is Michener's 2nd novel but his historical fiction formula is already set. We take thousands of years of natural history to set the scene, and then we move through the years with a cast of characters and their families. It is there book after book and it never gets old, it never gets dull and it is always both entertaining and educational as I learn a lot about aspects of history and society in each of his books.
Here his style is still the
Maria Park
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My first Michener experience at the tender age of 12. I will never forget the opening scenes of Hawaii. Michener is a painter of words, I felt the explosions of the Earth as the volcanoes erupted, saw the multiplicity of the colors when the lava flowed into the sea. And that was just the first chapter!

Long before social justice was trendy, Michener took on issues of religious oppression, sexual slavery, and so many more while weaving a thousand page plus plot that kept you inextricably linked to
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They should put a photo of this book in the dictionary beside the definition of epic because epic it is. Covering the history of hawaii and even the prehistory, Michener covers every aspect of what shaped the tropical islands from volcanoes to war to the myriad people who lived there. Michener humanizes his history by telling the stories of individuals and their families, their ambitions, and their reactions to the changing world. While it is a very long book, I would highly recommend it. Think ...more
David (דוד)
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the history of Hawaii; Every James Michener reader
An intensely but beautiful read, this one ! :) :)

Six chapters, that have their own throughput.

From the Boundless Deep, is such a well-put story of the process of how the geological forces through their temporally long ages brought forth into being the beautiful islands that would be later called as 'Hawaii'. :)

From the Sun-Swept Lagoon, is the story of the people of the Polynesian Islands, their fights, their gods, their ideas, and how they (from the island of Bora Bora) eventually
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bodosika Bodosika
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting historical fiction about the island Hawaii.James A. Michener is a MASTER STORY TELLER.
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
The first time I read this book was in the early 80s and I remember being impressed (hence the original 4-star rating). I wonder if that will hold up today...

April 2020 review:
On second read I have decreased my rating to 3 stars (rounded down from 3.5). It's not that I didn't enjoy the book. The first half was as fascinating as I remembered. Michener has a way of illustrating events and history through development of interesting characters. But as the story progressed into part V, which continue
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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. ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ths is my favorite of Michener's books. It has a compelling dramatic sweep and he creates three-dimensional characters that I cared about. ...more
Sian Jones
If someone had handed me this book and said, Here's a weird cult novel from the 1950s, I would have believed them. But instead this one comes to me with the full recommendation of long-lived American best seller. A best seller for years! Structurally alone, the book is an anomaly, divided into three-hundred page "chapters" -- each of which changes dramatically in tone and focus. The first chapter reads like a scifi novella about the formation of the Hawaiian islands; I kept waiting for a space s ...more
Glory hallelujah!! After nearly a month of reading this 1100+ page masterpiece, I have finished.

Very few books with such dense prose have captured my attention like this book. I marveled at how well written it was and often paused to determine who each character represented in history. Google got a real workout during the missionary chapters.

I knew nearly nothing about the state at the top of my travel bucket list. Now, I long to visit even more.

Several sections were stronger than others-- bu
Read this decades ago and yet recall the book like it was yesterday. What a masterful storyteller Michener is. I used to joke about each book starting at the beginning of time, but he has an amazing way of making the reader care and then developing interesting characters to relate fascinating histories. I'll reread them all when I retire. ...more
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Plan for Hawaii This Vacation 1 1 Jun 04, 2021 03:33AM  
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Audio books 1 4 Mar 27, 2019 04:06PM  
The Movie... 8 56 Apr 03, 2018 12:13PM  
Play Book Tag: Hawaii - James Michener 4/5 20 27 Jan 09, 2017 07:58PM  
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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

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