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Kamehameha III: He Moʻolelo no ka Mōʻī Lokomaikaʻi

P. Christiaan Klieger

Softcover, 480 pp.

Kauikeaouli (1814-1854), Kamehameha III, was the Hawaiian kingdom's most misunderstood king--but also the longest ruling, the most beloved, and most defiant. It was Kamehameha III who transformed a feudal chiefdom into a constitutional state and steered it into the recognition of its independence among the great powers--the first in modern history. Although his father Kamehameha I unified the islands, it was the son who established a stable government and freed his people from bondage. Kauikeaouli was both a Jefferson and a Lincoln.

What is most remarkable is that the young king was most successful in effecting reform, despite a flood of scorn from the Calvinist missionaries who were guests in his country but did not approve his lifestyle. Kauikeaouli, for all his modernism, was a traditional Hawaiian king who thoroughly enjoyed strong drink, variegated sexual pursuits, hula, and games--all banned by the Boston Puritans but the king's right as a living god. The book begins with a theoretical grounding in current trends in historiography, Pacific Studies, Queer Theory, and anthropological interpretation, with careful attention to source materials.

The narrative begins with the unification of the islands under Kamehameha the Great, and that king's important marriages to the taboo women of the Maui royal family. It was necessary for Kamehameha, after conquering the islands, to seek legitimacy for his offspring. His three children by Queen Keōpūlani would provide this. His son Kauikeaouli would fulfill this obligation to rule at the death of his brother Kamehameha II in 1824. King Kamehameha III's primary mission was to keep his kingdom independent and recognized by Great Britain, France, and the United States, among many others. His life is a most astonishing story.

Book is 478 pages with over thirty illustrations. It is the first major biography of the king and is based on primary source material: missionary letters, sea captains' journals, newspapers, explorers' logs, accounts from foreign residents and mid-Victorian adventurers, archaeological analyses of the king's residences, and Native Hawaiian histories, both written and oral.

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