This fascinating book about the history of Hawaii leading up to its annexation by the United States covers some of the same material as Sarah Vowell’s recent and also wonderful book, Unfamiliar Fishes, but Lost Kingdom goes into greater detail, especially about the life of Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last queen. Lili’uokalani was educated by missionaries and devoutly Christian, but that didn’t cause her to demean her native arts and customs which she supported, celebrated and led. She wrote the lovely and still well-known song Aloha Oe, many versions of which can be heard on YouTube—including one by Elvis—and an autobiography that can be found in Google Books. Hawaii is the only state in the country that used to be a sovereign nation with a monarchy recognized around the world. Christian missionaries came to Hawaii with the best of intentions, but inevitably brought disease and prejudices that decimated the native people and culture, and some of the missionary’s offspring became greedy sugar barons who overthrew the lawful government and replaced it with one more favorable to their financial interests, a shameful episode in American history that embarrassed even President Grover Cleveland. Author Julia Flynn Siler has included a glossary of Hawaiian words and a list of characters, both very helpful. Though much of this book’s story is sad it’s beautifully written and not heavy-handed, leaving me with a sense of yearning and hope for what Hawaii was, still is and can be rather than a feeling of despair.