Books about the origins of Hawaii

Looking Back: Four new book releases examine earlier times in Hawaii, including the origins of the Islands themselves.


Japanese Eyes, American Heart—Vol. II

Subtitled Voices from the Home Front in World War II Hawaii, this book delivers exactly that: about three dozen oral histories from Americans of Japanese ancestry, describing their wartime lives in the Islands. Stories range from how celebrated Waipahu store Arakawa’s coped with the war, to recollections of a young Kaua‘i schoolgirl about her conflicted feelings on being Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Published by our sister company, Watermark Publishing, Honolulu. $24.95.




Sample line from this autobiography of legendary local journalist and former KGMB anchorman Bob Jones: “The day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated was one of my days off at The Honolulu Advertiser and I was sleeping in, hung over, with a young lady from the newspaper’s library staff.” Jones tells all with the same energetic gusto: not just his youthful boozing and womanizing, but also his heartfelt recollections of covering the Vietnam War and his eye-opening revelations about how local media really works or, too often, doesn’t work. $14.95,



Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaii: An Illustrated Guide

This exhaustive survey comes at a critical time in the history of Buddhism as practiced in the Islands. About 90 temples still remain here, many of them with just a handful of members. Authors George Tanabe and Willa Jane Tanabe, both professors emeritus of Japanese art and religion at the University of Hawai‘i, explain the history, architectural details and symbolism of each temple, aided by 350 color photos. Take a copy with you next time you hit the bon dance circuit! University of Hawaii Press, $22.99.



Archipelago: The Origin and Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands

It’s mind-boggling: Even as some of the youngest geological formations on Earth, the Hawaiian Islands are old enough to stump our imaginations. Who better to make this distant history come alive and make sense than author Richard W. Grigg, professor emeritus of oceanography at UH and lifelong student of the process by which the Hawaiian Islands were born over a central Pacific hotspot, then inevitably sank beneath the waves. Clear prose and a wealth of illustrations make it all digestible. Island Heritage, $19.95,

Did you know? 77 million years: Age of the earliest known Hawaiian island, now just a seamount 3,000 miles away, off the coast of Kamchatka, according to Archipelago.