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He Liked It, Except . . .

August 25, 1985

As one who lived in Hawaii for many years, and as one who has researched and written on many Hawaiian subjects, I read with interest Don Strachan's thumbnail review of "Kauai: The Separate Kingdom"--Edward Joesting (Book Review, Aug. 11).

However, I take exception to the phrase: "They took over the land, stripping it of sandalwood to grow sugar cane."

Sandalwood was to Hawaii what gold and silver were to California and Nevada. It was the 50th state's first export product. Because of the sandalwood era, Hawaii underwent a great social upheaval that brought the missionaries into power.

Discovery of the sandalwood forests led to extensive commerce with China among Yankee seafaring men. No thought was given to conservation. Later, the people rose up to destroy the trees that they felt caused their misery.

As far as sugar cane is concerned, that came later--but the sandalwood tree had nothing to do with it as a resource, only to the extent that sandalwood no more had a place in the Hawaiian economy.

JOHN P. WAGNER

Los Angeles

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