read: 9 January 2012
I started this book a few years ago and just picked up where I left off because I gave it away as a prize in a contest and realized I hadn’t gotten all the way through it. This book is terrific, a model of what all good non-fiction books on somewhat difficult topics should be like. The story of Hawaii’s transition from an island nation of its own to a US state is just the backdrop for this long and meticulously well-researched and well-annotated history of the Leper Colony on the island of Molokai. It would be really easy to stuff it with gory photos and stories and OMG LEPERS sorts of writing and probably create a book that sold just as well if not better, but Tayman has really gone for an approach where as much as possible he tells the stories using the words of the people caught up in the exiling, the incarceration, the activism and the machinations. The history of the leper colony is a long roller coaster of good news and bad news, sometimes occurring at the same time or for the same reasons. All this book made me want to do was learn and read more about the people and the places Tayman talks about.
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