Biographies have always been my first choice in reading. Sometimes I choose a person from the past; other times it is about someone who lives in our timeline. In many ways, biographies are similar to novels in that they tell a story. The major difference with non-fiction is that we know how events unfold and, for those that occur in the past, how they end. Novels, unless you look at the last page, which sometimes I do, are uncertain. There is an element of suspense.
Biographies have recognized dates, events, and historical figures. I would argue, however, that there is more mystery and tension in reality than in fiction. You may know the timing and outcome, but surprises come in the details. Even more gripping, the narratives challenge us to look at circumstances differently by creating a conversation that allows us to see comparisons and applications within our personal experience. Perhaps what makes biographical accounts most compelling is that we are in a dialogue with history.
Today, January 17, 1893, a group of businessmen known as the Sugar Kings, convinced the United States to overthrow the last Queen of Hawaii. Queen Liliuokalani, who wrote over 160 poetic melodies and chants, was the last monarch of Hawaii. In her place, the Republic of Hawaii was brought into being with Sanford Dole as president.
I have yet to finish Julia Flynn Siler’s, “Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure”. I have come to the place where Queen Liliuokalani takes a leading role in the history of Hawaii.
“The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call ‘Father,’ and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.”