Daniel Harrington does a thorough job here of giving a historical description of Kauai's community of Hanalei. As the blurb on the back cover states, the "...book chronicles the history of Hanalei, from the arrival of the Polynesians nearly two thousand years ago to the unexpected visit of a pod of melon-headed whales in 2004." And virtually every event and personage of lasting significance is included, in five main chapters entitled "First Settlement to Western Contact," "Western Contact to the Great Mahele," "Royal Visits and the Story of Princeville," "The Rice Era and the Beach Houses of Hanalei," and "Hanalei Today: Art and Nature." But that is not all. Harrington gives us as well a treatise on the flora and fauna in his appendices: "Birds of Hanalei," and "Polynesian-Introduced Species." And he makes a concise recapitulating "Timeline of the History of Hanalei" that the readers will find useful. There is also a "Complete List of Sources" and an "Index." Photographs and color art works are on every other page, making the book a joy to the eyes and increasing its educational value. And this "educational value" is a major virtue of the book, since the level of knowledge reflected in its production and the accuracy of detail far surpasses that of most tourist-intended travel-destination descriptions. In his "Author's Note" at the beginning, Harrington, a long-time resident and educator in Hanalei, writes: "The more I researched, the more I realized that an underlying story exists, one that is difficult to tell: the untold history of a vanishing culture dispossessed of their traditions, the transformation of the native landscape, and the decimation of the indigenous people...All but lost to history are the stories of many of these native Hawaiians who perished in the wake of Western contact. Beyond the statistics of population decline, dates of epidemics, and names of foreign-introduced diseases, many details remain a mystery...Each new epidemic, each new wave of foreign influences, furthered the inexorable unraveling of an ancient cultural fabric, the rich and complex culture of a self-sufficient people living on the planet's most isolated archipelago for more than a thousand years before Western contact. To address these difficult questions--the subtleties of political events, issues of land ownership, and the complex human issues involving an indigenous culture...would require many more pages...This book is just the story of one area of one island, yet it was written with an awareness of, and sensitivity to, these complicated issues." Here Harrington is not exaggerating or bragging. The historical knowledge and detail reflected here would fill an encyclopedia--and, in fact, HAS. This reader, as you can read in my other www.shvoong.com abstracts, has spent twenty-five years researching the activities of one particular character who inhabited Hanalei, even "owned it" for a short time in 1816-1817--and that is George Anton Schaeffer (1779-1836), the commissioner of the Alaska-based Russian-American Company who directed the construction of two forts, Fort Alexander and Fort Barclay, on either side of the Hanalei River.
Schaeffer was eventually expelled by his "Friend George," Kauai's last King Kaumualii. For this reason I was most interested in author Harrington's treatment of these early contact days in Hanalei's history--his treatment of Kamehameha, of Kaahumanu, of Kaumualii, and of George Schaeffer and his forts in Hanalei. And in my judgement there is no fault to find. Only did I find most curious the notation that the book's footnotes, of which there are 56, are not in the book itself at all, but "...may be seen at www.hawaiianencyclopedia.com." Now this is a scholarly practice new to me, and I must say (write here) that when I clicked my way to this site, entitled fully "Hawaiian Encyclopedia--A Comprehensive Guide to the Hawaiian Islands' History, Culture, Native Species, Science...A Reference Guide/Almanac/Atlas/Database of Hawaiian Topics." And all this ambitiously described online compendium is attributed on the title page to one author, Daniel Harrington. The publisher is the same Mutual Publishing that produced the book on Hanalei, but no publication date on the encyclopedia is given. But after hours and hours clicking through this online encyclopedia and reading its diverse content I could see that the scope and accuracy of it are such as to make it a major asset to research and education into the Hawaiian culture...a REALLY major asset. Harrington provides more here than I could have imagined. And he gives the genealogies, the lore, the complete names with the okinas and the macrons, comparing the sources and giving varying versions and interpretations. It's simply an awesome achievement of scholarship and beneficial educational intent. He should be given concomitant award for this labor of love, to be sure. My only very slight quibble is that despite some persistent effort, I could not find anywhere in his encyclopedia the footnotes from his work on "Hanalai: A Kauai River Town," which I highly recommend.