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Sunday, June 27, 2004



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The Local Literary Scene


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New releases from
Hawaii authors



A Military History of Sovereign Hawai'i   "A Military History of Sovereign Hawai'i"
By Neil Bernard Dukas
(Mutual, $17.95)

Despite the ever-growing pile of history books about Hawaii, this one stands by itself. The revolution in Hawaiian military tactics pioneered by Kamehameha I and practiced by all subsequent rulers of Hawaii were not the quaint hobby of a backwater empire but the glue that held the islands together, and largely preserved Hawaiian culture for future generations. Kamehameha's achievement is extraordinary, and this is the first analysis to give him his due in military terms.

The first half of the volume deals with that transition period, and the second half with the largely ceremonial household troops, local militias and political infighting of the Victorian era. One exception was Kalakaua's failed experiment in building a South Seas empire using a converted guano carrier called Ka'imiloa.

Former Hawaii professor Dukas, apparently a tireless researcher, has assembled a tremendously useful reference tool that's also fun to read. Well-illustrated with period photographs, this is a handsomely produced volume. It serves well alongside Brian McAllister Linn's "Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940" to form a neatly compact history of the military in Hawaii.




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