Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sarah Vowell's Take on Hawaii

Fans of Sarah Vowell and her "nerd civics lessons" can rejoice in today's publication of her latest book: Unfamiliar Fishes (Riverhead Books), in which Vowell  tells the the story of Hawaii’s Americanization – from the first American immigrants in 1820 to the annexation of Hawaii in 1898. New England missionaries started arriving in 1820 to Christianize the local "heathen," worrying natives that they might "pray them all to death."  Some might question whether this was an improvement over existing conditions.

In her characteristic wry combination of erudition and humor, Vowell tells the story of our fiftieth state, the birthplace of our current president. And just because I think it helps to have Sarah Vowell's voice in your head when you read her books, here's a video clip of her telling Hawaii's story through plate lunches. Yes, you heard me: plate lunches.

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