"No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II"
by Franklin Odo
(Temple University Press, $39.50)
Just when you might think that the tribulations faced by Japanese Americans during the war are an overtold story, along comes something like the 9-11 attack and the racist/culturalist animosity aimed at Arab Americans, and suddenly the events of 1941 have extraordinary resonance. It's a story that can't be told often enough, and has become a scale model of the immigrant American experience. Odo focuses here on the scrappy Varsity Victory Volunteers, the Japanese UH students and cashiered Territorial Guardsmen who formed their own work unit to prove their patriotism. The experience -- largely male and Honolulan (what about events on Niihau?) -- was a molding process for a generation of future community leaders.
"100 Years of Healing: The Legacy of a Kauai Missionary Doctor"
by Evelyn E. Cook
(Halewai Publishing, $24.95)
It's probably a bit much to expect a privately funded missionary history to be critical of missionaries, but this book does help leaven all the darts these early settlers generally have aimed at them. Without missionary influence, it's argued, Hawaiian culture may have been wiped out forever. A fascinating dialectic.
"Growing Up in Hawaii"
by Thomas J. Miranda
(1st Books, $21)
Judging by the cover, part of growing up here includes milking cows on the beach. Miranda, a chemist now retired in Indiana, has jotted down his childhood recollections and family stories about the islands prior to the war. The book could have used a strict editor; on the other hand, these print-on-demand titles satisfy an itch that no major publishing house will ever scratch -- the human desire to tell your own story.
"Magic Moon Dreams"
by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Kristi Petrosa-Sigel
(Island Heritage, $8.99)
Here, in "Goodnight Moon" territory, there's a quiet clarity to the world as kids slip into the world of sleep, lulled by the dreamy cadence of marching sentences with drummingly repetitive declarations. Nice job by Crowe and Petrosa-Sigel -- I'm yawning! That's a good thing.