tv Book Discussion on Unfamiliar Fishes CSPAN August 23, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT
in history, and our new series, real america, featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930's through the 1970's. local 3, funded by your cable or satellite provider. watch us in on august 21 19 59, hawaii became the 50th state after more than a century of sarah vowell american influence. nex the true that oppose the last hawaiian queen and resulted in the annexation of the island by the united states "unfamiliar fishes" in
"unfamiliar fishes" 1898. her book is -- her book is > "unfamiliar fishes". austin and you have microphones everywhere. i will read for a little bit and then have questions just like every other reading you have ever been to. of macaroni a clock salad next the japanese chicken? with the new england missionaries bound for hawaii in 1819. they only serve chicken four days a week. this is a fine spot for a sunburned tourist to sit need and ponder the historical implications of a lukewarm walks of takeout. none of us belong here. not me. not the macaroni.
not the chicken soap in soy sauce. not even the trees. their imports from india. that pour up sprouts slowly into the ground and take roots. it leads to more and more trunks into each tree becomes its own busy little orest. town is a banyan in the landed in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of new england missionaries on the island. tall when a feet descendent planted it and now it stands over 60 feet high with leaves spanning more than 200 square feet. the courthousein talking with a woman who works there about the banyan. she told me the gardener put a
lot of effort into confining the tree the square because otherwise it would keep on growing until its roots and branches cracked the foundations and punctured the walls of all the nearby buildings him up finally toppling everything in its path. andtendency to crowd out destroy its neighbors has earned it the pet name "strangler. fig." in an old black and white photograph on display there. ofwas taken in the summer 1898 a few days after the sunset missionaries who had dethroned the hawaiian queen handed over hawaii to the united states. it is pitched with the tenant of
the first voluntary infantry. has aanish american war soldier stopping off in the suddenly american city en route to the lapine's to persuade the filipino people at gunpoint that self-government really is not for everyone. [laughter] they name the encasement after the president to dispatch them here, camp the ken lay. the united states declared a war on spain by 1898. by august they had invaded the spanish colonies of cuba, order rate, guam and hawaii. united states became a world power for the ursa time. it became what it is now. hurrah for hawaii president roosevelt wrote here it he was in the caribbean with the rough writers. one of the and result was an
american control of guantanamo bay. to roosevelt and his like minded cronies, the most important objective of all the 1898 theuvers was possession of strategic ports like guantanamo and halloween no -- and hollow -- and honolulu. all they ever wanted was a close the -- a cozy little island with part in a fleet of battleships. that is how i ended up getting interested in hawaii. the monument in the harbor bridge is above the oily, watery
grave of the 1100 77 sailors who died on the ship that day. flip-flop wearers on my flight to honolulu, i did not come here for direct sunlight or fun. i came to hawaii because it has been attacked. after i checked it off my to-do list i still had some time to kill. i swung by the palace downtown, curious to take a look at the victorian buildings my guy but don't as "the only palace in the united states." businessmanwhite and sugar planters that have staged a coup d'etat against queen liluokalani in 1893. whiled away on the second floor of the palace, sewing a colorful quilt that is
s on display there. little flags in the kingdom of hawaii stand guard. scene of adered a cartoonish man struggling with a number l, losing his hat in the wind. was theed if this lament of a woman whose crown has loan away and it isn't calming back. in december 2003. the week before i write american soldiers captured saddam hussein he was in his fighter whole. when i was standing in the style at thatynesian queen exact moment the iraqi dictator was behind bars being guided by pennsylvanians. , famous for queen
writing the song a low hop away and saddam, and mass murderer are famous for gassing 500 tourists had much in common. there was the tendency to indulge. mentioned the day the hawaiian flag was lowered and the american flag went up. they celebrated the invasion of baghdad i climbing up the statue of saddam and covering his mustache face of the stars and stripes.
there was another historic site we had forgotten entirely. there was outrage over the invasion of iraq often cited as a betrayal of american ideals. the context was this was not who we are. see he looked in the eyes when she talked about the american flag flying over the palace. hawaii is just crucial to the american empire's military presence. japan, north korea, north vietnam.
i'm part of american global domination. americans and their children spent the 78 years between the arrival of protestant missionaries in 1820 and the american annexation in 1898. hawaiiricanization of parallels the americanization of hawaii. they set sail to the islands, a place they thought of as a spiritual wilderness. this is perhaps nine out of 10 natives of the americas were wiped out. it was ravaged by smallpox, whooping cough and venereal disease.
they are in the huddled masses of immigrants to the united states. requires plantation massive imports of labor andarily from china, japan, the philippines, transporting hawaii into what has become. hence the plate lunch. two scoops of japanese-style rice and once give a macaroni salad air lifted from search pot luck in anywhere usa and served alongside a polynesian or asian proteins such as pig, teriyaki patty toppedburger with gravy and a fried egg presumably invented to represent the hamburgers only defect.
they happened apart got passed down. it is now served at diners, drive-ins and lunch throughout the archipelago. in 1961 it established the rainbow drive-in on the edge where i got my plate lunch. it was the 100th infantry. it was the 402nd combat team and served a segregated troops during world war ii. the argument was that they were america didn't, not the u.s.
government classified them in their family enemy aliens. teriyaki, hotng sauce, mahi-mahi in portuguese sausage. this is the drive-in as a possible stop. it makes sense considering he met his kenyan father at the university of hawaii. he has the plate lunch president. i see the history of hawaii as a native loss combined with an idealistic symbolized by soy sauce in mayonnaise to coexist and congeal to track the
history of the united states in general. i am a defendant of the marks of gunpoint by the u.s. army to oklahoma. they left for kansas. whenever i.e. this i will back to the loweure to my great grandfathers voyage to america. he befriended a german whose only food came from sausage. i came to know america as to thees, a country built on discussion of the original landitants and a welcoming of opportunity and generosity built by people who share their
>> how was he doing question is how old is he now? >> meineke is almost 11. -- my nephew is almost 11. i haven't seen him in a while. him.like to travel with a few weeks ago we went to some guatemala --ndex: mexico and what amal at. >> i am curious how you go about doing the research. >> what is my process from start
to finish? let's see. i read a bunch of looks first. there were some primary documents are memoirs, that kind of thing. of memoirs this time. biographies.icial trips be doing reporting where i went back and forth to my home in new york city to the island and will stay sometimes for, sometimes for several weeks. including the one in the building that he stands on top of.
hi. i was curious to know if you saw the annexation of hawaii as having some kind of modern ripple effect? i correct me if i am wrong, like english. that they are entirely up to the on the history of hawaii in the 1890's. and concerns.s i have more prompted by the president and finding ways to not make him be the president unless i am wrong about that. i do not think there is too much.
what am i supposed to say? letterman is kind of a useful hero. he is actually a real reader who has been nothing but nice to me and my books. i've nothing but kind thoughts for the man. which makes a terrible story. [laughter] he helps me sell my books. terrible story. i write nonfiction see have to tell the truth. thank you for driving. the rest of you probably wrote your hippie bikes here. bikese your hippie here. >> when you are coming up with an idea for the next thing you want to work on, do you come up
with a bunch of ideas of when speaks to you or your are you sitting around thinking that is it? >> yep. [laughter] i do not have my next idea. i ensure i have a million ideas every day, almost all of them lame at this point. you know it when you see it. the last but, my one about the i had always wanted to write about the puritans. who doesn't? love john winthrop. i have been thinking about them for a wild. writing therted book after the sermon that was read at ronald reagan's funeral. where he gives the image of new england.
it is a sermon about charity generosity's. it is associated with president reagan. it was the kick i needed to get cracking. the sermon is about charity and generosity. city we will be at the upon a hill. for him it was too excited. place eventually the united bets and new england would at a city on a hill to be a beacon to the world. twohrop also meant it
ways. we could fail and everyone can see our failure. we would be up there. a defined the failure as failure to take care of one another. i don't know. that is why that one. i noticed you did not see any in about hawaii. does jim neighbor still have show over there? do not know what has been happening with jim neighbors in the last 40 years. is still a prized food. it is not a staple food. it doesn't object of religious
devotion. it is the mashed taro root. i haven't craved it. there is a whole story there. one of the people i interviewed, --your shoes grandmother whose grandmother worked for the last queen of hawaii and walked me through the creation myth. i said that to interview him. i asked him about the overthrow of the queen in 1893. he answered by going back to the beginning of time. [laughter] it was a very long interview. when he was talking about the beginning of time, it. about the earth's mother. the object of the union and the stillborn's. was the child was very
brought up by the taro plant in the next sibling was the first human. plantople saw the tarot as an older sibling. the number one sibling. the number one sibling's job is to take care of all the younger siblings. the hero is the staple food. it is not like what a cheesesteak is instantly. it is a member of the family kind of. it has been very cherished for very long. lot, it is a rare plant for the last century or so. so much of the land that used to be used to grow the tarot got turned into sugar plantations.
>> i don't like these things. oh my goodness. ok. who is your favorite author? i was just curious. >> i don't really have one favorite author. there are two that i return to again and again when i am writing if i am stuck and i want to revise my stuff. cereal give up and eat in front of television or something. dick, i wills moby always crack it open at random and read for a little bit. the language is so weird and the story is so strange it just jampacked, it is a book. cold water splashing
us. we can write so it does not bleed. trawls adams, the cartoonist. i have books of his collections. i flip her those. -- through those. he is so strange and funny. flip a switch in me. ask eye ofanted to the doing a lot of research on my family. i'm part cherokee. the rest is very slavic. are you thinking about a book? thee are so many books on not to say that because
there's not enough, not enough the way congress is going right now. he thought about writing? >> i did write one very long essay about them in one of my essay collections. there is a little bit. this.evisit it is the same organization. the same group started the school up in connecticut were in the chinaships
trade or coming back with all these kids from all over the world. some of them were put in the school including the first hawaii and christian boy and two of the cherokee men. there were a couple of the ones that signed that treaty against the rest of the tribe that gave the u.s. government permission to start the trail of tears. there is a real concrete connection. >> i came through half hours but from corpus. a half hours but from corpus. libraries have been in porton in your research. to add any any words
words to telling how important this has been to your process? ? >> just in case texas legislators are watching c-span at 7:00 a.m. reinvent the to wheel. libraries have been very important to me. that's where the books are. spent the first 11 years of my bike in a tiny town in oklahoma that had no library. at the school there was one shelf that had some books on it. you couldn't take him home. you run through them pretty quick. when my family moved to a town in montana, they have more than one library. they hadt summer
sidewalks also. we like to rollerskate. the first summer moving from oklahoma to montana is what it sounds like. it was a college town. to us it was basically like we have moved to paris. wet first magical summer would go to the library every day. we thought we had reached so little relation -- reach civilization. when i was in high school i would skip school a lot. skip the "that doesn't classes.d" i was gets will go to the library. it is not just for my work as a writer. it was to mislead by librarians.
would be impossible without them. i cannot tell you what you can learn of microphone of old newspapers. not all of that has been digitized widely. libraries are so crucial and vital. i do not even know how to talk about life without them. it is like they are not going to be any more eggs anymore. what? wish i had something super zippy to say about it. they are so important. by do not know how great it barry is unless you were born into a town that doesn't have one. did it that way.
is until you are born into a town that doesn't have one. pink of it that way. >> we lived in hawaii he years ago. knew the history and all that. it is interesting how the natives are conflicted about being americans, being hawaiian's. it is a different state to live in. interesting how they do not always consider themselves part of the united states. it got to be very aggravating to your people come over him -- go over and visit and say back in , i states, back in the u.s. want to say you are in the u.s. say nowould hear people that you're back in the u.s.,
and we would say we are living in the u.s. in hawaii. what hawaii is not really a state. as long asnight that i could remember. i guess you heard that a lot. are right those shows after statehood. he asked this crowd of people what you think. thought them what they about the united states. they would yell, you are in it. i think it is a byproduct of when a country on a continent colonizes an island miles away from the shore. in some ways, it is a completely american place this because it
is so militaristic. there are military bases and training ground everywhere. it is exceedingly religious. crummys a lot of really commercial architecture which is a bit of a specialty in this country. there are so many things about it. then he have all of the hotels and resorts. then all the military bases. like is a writer i really who said the two great contributions of american civilization are in annihilation and fun. about las vegas and name these about all the old nuclear tests. i think it applies to hawaii as well. , there soer hand
often the independent country it once was. people who would say they don't speak hawaiian. if you are going to ask directions from someone they would tell you tube go toward the mountains or toward the ocean. it is such a singular place. it has so many vestiges of its singular culture. it is kind of lost. i have a friend and speaking of making and budgeting his name. hawaiianhate saying
words in front of hawaiians. my friend was driving me home and set it is funny you all of hawaiians. a do nothing to myself hawaiian. you were born here. you went to high school here. he said i know. family's ancestors came from japan and germany. i don't know. it is a desperate place of these people from all over the world. everyone who has been there a well considers themselves new yorkers. it is all one big jumble. there is the identity of the place and the people. result of
americanization and what happened with the missionary offspring overthrew the queen in 1893. kind of a severing from the hawaiian pass. one of the other things she did what she translated the creation myth which is a genealogy that tells the story of hawaii from the beginning of time up through her own ancestors. i think one reason she did that after her overthrow is she is in the longut that .ons of hawaiians past
>> i find your style really dry and funny. i was wondering if you have ever entertained the idea of branching out into fiction. >> no. [laughter] that question comes up a lot. it is such an insult to nonfiction. true,ecause something is i am not a liar. there are kinds of other liars. one thing i love about nonfiction it that it does not have to seem plausible. thatction is about things are that can't be true but it is.
as the first missionaries are leaving boston harbor, they are on the route to hawaiians. the water, theon new hawaiian king decide to abolish the old religion. if you put that in one of your fiction type stories it will too like "no, that is easy." guess what, the old religion has been banned and outlawed. there's nothing to replace it. are we have fallen into spiritual vacuum. it seems like god is on their side. if you put that in a made-up story it just wouldn't work. it is unbelievable.
about the story of how john adams and thomas severson died on the same day. if you put that in a novel it would be so laughable. it is fact. i pre-order everything you write as soon as i hear it is coming out. >> thank you. >> however -- >> where is this going? [laughter] >> when i read the title i had no idea what you're going to the writing about. because i hate subtitles.
go on. >> what inspired you to use that title. quotation from a letter written by one of the first hawaiian writers. whens almost 30 years old the missionaries arrived on the island where he lived at the time. they taught him how to read and write. in the hawaiian oil tradition. the missionaries from new england had to invent a written language for hawaiians. they taught him and some other people to read your it to the entirety of the population.
large big wave comes in, and unfamiliar fishes come from the dark ocean and the need the small fishes of the shallows and they will eat them up. men from thee big important countries come here and see that our people are small. they will devour us. it was pathetic. pulling unfamiliar fishes out of that because of my book is about these americans. the americans who came to hawaii in that time are not regular joe americans. you have your bible am being killed joys. you have your baby alert -- baylor young leaves a bunch of capitalist and other dreamers.
it just captured that. it is about the singular types who ended up there. >> time for one more question. was a studyt book a listener's point of view. have you done another one. >> you want to read a diary of me going on a book tour and talking to interviewers? that hadn't occurred to me. that was myhat first book listing to the radio was a pretense incidents -- prison sentence. one thing about that form, but can listen to the radio every day.
it was trying as a project. i do and there is something in that form that definitely captured the time. the year i listened was 1995. i do not really listen to a lot of different kinds of radio so much anymore. at the time i cannot imagine that it has gotten more violent. ien i turned on the radio, think maybe on the first day, right before oklahoma city, right before the right wing talk radio that people start wondering maybe you shouldn't talk like that all the time. becauseon i wrote it is of the 1994 congressional elections. calledshman congressman
it the caucus. i was unaware of that side of it. i was here before oklahoma city. i heard maybe on the first day saying there was another kid trying to horn in on my paper route. somebody need to get a gun. i remember maybe a week into it i was visiting my parents. there was a big snowstorm. i went cross-country skiing in the middle of the night. he was so fluffy and white and wonderful. i came back and turned on the radio and there is some person saying that you could solve the problem of the welfare mothers and illegal immigrants by giving the welfare mothers jobs by border toem at the gun down all the illegal immigrants.
when i say was a prison sentence slayerearingve songs all day. i had to listen to heart and eerie -- i had to listen to hard wings. we forget that. i don't know. i would like to forget it that i can. there washoma city something president clinton said that stuck with me. talk of hate,re's stand up and talk against it here that was something that was nice to hear after a few months to violent calls to murder in between commercials. thatnot see retreating experience, lovely as it was.
it was a very dark and angry aw book. a think we can have one more question. could it be slightly more hope will? that is not from your question. that is for me and the darkness. parallel between the missionary effort in here .nd the dulles brothers >> it does seem to be a habit of ours. we do not like the guy running
one of mullah, i know what we can do. we don't like the guy running cuba, that kind of thing. the thing about the united founding theour declaration of independence. it should be based on the consent of the governed. thate definition the idea americans would go abroad and the other rulers are a contradiction. as a lawyer talking about?
>> the difference with hawaii is the missionaries, the one you came in the 1820's and 30's. that weree children hawaiian subjects that overthrow the queen into religion playing a more devout christian. hadoriginal missionaries strict instructions not to mess with the government and not get involved. affairs are of
this earth and they were to be concerned with getting as many hawaiians into the kingdom of heaven as possible. many of them stuck to that. and work for the hawaiian government. they had to quit their job is missionaries to do that. there was one extra missionary who helped with the framing of a constitution. there was one missionary who quit the mission to work in the judiciary. he objected to the fact that the headquarters back in boston was taking donations from slave states. the actual missionaries did stick to their plans. they didn't have time to do any else. look what they did. everyoneed to make christian. they need everyone to be reading
their bible. they have to invent the written language and translate the bible . they translated the bible from greek to her rebirth of -- agree to hebrew to hawaiian enemy have to read everyone and run their schools and preach their sermons. and because it is a monarchy they have a lot of other demands that the aristocrat placed on them. they're coming to drop everything. there is so much to do. they were so overworked and over erdmann. they did not have time to do this. the children did. they originally had very little
to do with that. the man after the overthrow that becomes the president of the republic of hawaii, he and the queen went to the same church. he taught sunday school. she was a solid christian. memoir, she writes the book. it is a true story. she is publishing it in 1898. she uses to arguments against annexation. this does not seem christian. god willally implies smite us if we do this to her little country. it is not seem in keeping with the demands of democratic republican government. so there is that. [laughter]
to thank you all for coming. thank you, austin. i will be upstairs signing book. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> here from the country's best american history writers of the past decade every saturday at four clock p.m. eastern. to what's programs anytime visit history.ite c-span.org/ week special primetime programming on the c-span networks. a debate overan, scottish independence. on tuesday, a spotlight on irs targeting of conservative groups. the preparatory magnet school on educating children from disadvantaged background. thursday, a budget hearing committee on anti-poverty programs.
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c-span.org. let us know what you think about the programs. #c123.ich are used the conversation, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> next, alison fortier looks at throughoutsites washington, d.c. the heritage foundation hosted this hour event. a particularly favorite subject of mine. i thought i would never live to see the day of a rock star historian. i am very grateful to