Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.
Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.
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Title: Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure
Author: Julia Flynn Siler
Length: 307 pages
What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):
Around 200 A.D., intrepid Polynesians arrived at an undisturbed archipelago. For centuries, their descendants lived with little contact from the western world. In 1778, their isolation was shattered with the arrival of Captain Cook.
Deftly weaving together a memorable cast of characters, Lost Hawaii brings to life the ensuing clash between a vulnerable Polynesian people and relentlessly expanding capitalist powers. Portraits of royalty and rogues, sugar barons, and missionaries combine into a sweeping tale of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s rise and fall.
At the center of the story is Lili‘uokalani, the last queen of Hawai‘i. Born in 1838, she lived through the nearly complete economic transformation of the islands. Lucrative sugar plantations gradually subsumed the majority of the land, owned almost exclusively by white planters, dubbed the “Sugar Kings.” Hawai‘i became a prize in the contest between America, Britain, and France, each seeking to expand their military and commercial influence in the Pacific.
The monarchy had become a figurehead, victim to manipulation from the wealthy sugar plantation owners. Lili‘uokalani was determined to enact a constitution to reinstate the monarchy’s power but was outmaneuvered by the U.S. The annexation of Hawai‘i had begun, ushering in a new century of American imperialism.
How and when I got it:
I bought a hardcover edition several years ago, most likely at one of my library’s book sales.
Why I want to read it:
I’ve been fascinated by Hawaii for a long time — not just its beauty and beaches, but also the complicated history of its people and land. I’ve read fiction set in different historical periods of Hawaii’s past (most notably, James Michener’s massive Hawaii), and have read bits and pieces of non-fiction about Hawaiian history, but Lost Kingdom sounds really expansive in its scope.
I remember reading about Lost Kingdom when it was first released, and I know I read at least one (if not more) very positive reviews. I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but a great history book always appeals to me.
What do you think? Would you read this book?
Please share your thoughts!
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