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Lost Kingdom: 01/20/12

cover art

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 sugar industry but she did try to bring it back into power with the backing of a constitution.

For anyone who has visited Hawaii the book is a good outline of the recent history. It helps to explain how Hawaii's culture has evolved. The egalley though was lacking the map, illustrations and portraits that would have really helped to bring the book alive.

Although the book is primarily a biography of Queen Lili'uokalani, it tries to include information on all the outside influences in Hawaii's cultural evolution. While interesting, they weaken the coherency of biography by taking focus away from her life, experiences and outlook on life. The book never really gets into her head.

There also is the perhaps inevitable haole bias to the book. Whenever there is a recorded interaction between a Hawaiian and a haole, the book takes the haole's point of view. I realize most of the record was made by haoles but some discussion of what the Hawaiian experience, especially early on, was, should have been included.

Read via NetGalley.

Three stars.

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