Books on History of Maui

Books on the History of Maui that you may want to read before or after visiting the Hawaiian island of Maui.



Historical Non-Fiction books comprise most of the titles listed below, except for a few

Historical Fiction books

At the end of the list, such as HAWAII, by James Michener.


Maui How It Came To Be, by Will Kyselka



Armine von Tempski (or Tempsky)

was an American writer and one of Hawaii's noted authors

born 1892, Maui, Hawaiian Islands — died 1943

Armine Von Tempski's autobiographies and novels were based on her early life among the Hawaiian cowboys (paniolos) on the Haleakala cattle ranch atop the Haleakala volcano.

The Haleakala Ranch, which Jack London first visited in 1907, was his favourite of the Hawaiian ranches he enjoyed on several extended visits with his wife Charmian.

The young Armine, then sixteen years old, asked London to read some of her stories and give his opinion. He said that they were “clumsy, incoherent tripe” but added that “every so often there’s a streak of fire on your pages,” which encouraged her.

Her first published writing, in the early 1920s, was about efforts to restore the island of Kahoolawe after years of drought and overgrazing. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]



autobiography by Armine von Tempski

Armine Von Tempski grew up on a cattle ranch on the island of Maui, Hawaii, one hundred years ago.

Her first autobiography, 'Born in Paradise', describes life on Maui before automobiles when the only way to get around was on horseback.

Her love of the islands and the culture of the Hawaiian people may make you long for the inner peace of such an idyllic life.

Born in Paradise, autobiography by Armine von Tempski



Second autobiography by Armine von Tempski

‘Aloha’ is a sequel and continuation to her first autobiography 'Born in Paradise' of her early years growing up on a ranch on Maui Hawaii.

Aloha, autobiography by Armine von Tempski



Maui Remembers, by Gail Bartholemew

Voices of Maui




Exploring Historic Lahaina, by Summer Kupau

Exploring Historic Wailuku, by George Engebretson

Exploring Historic Upcountry, by Jill Engledow

[All three books are described in detail below.]

published by Watermark


The Series:

These slim volumes in the "Small Town Series Maui" are particularly for those visiting these locations for the first times, or for regulars wanting to know more about local history.

Each book is essentially an annotated photo album, and the casual nature of many of the images adds to that impression. Many are family snapshots.

The captions, however, place the images in historic and cultural contexts. The authors also chose colorful bits of oral history.

Even more useful, the back cover of each volume is a fold-out (and vastly simplified) "walking map," so that the book is a kind of field guide.

There are many "then and now" photos so it's up to you to compare and contrast, confirming this is a book to be used on-site.

If you're going to these locations, the books are recommended.

[adapted from Burl Burlingame, "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" copyright 2002]



by Summer Kupau

in the Small Town Series Maui

The old seaport of Lahaina has been a town in transition — from royal retreat to rough-and-tumble whaling port, from plantation village to American small town.

Now, relive Lahaina's rich history with this site-by-site guide, another volume in Watermark's unique Small Town Series.

Here are fascinating photos of grog shops, churches, mom-and-pop stores and missionary homes, many of them from private collections and each one keyed to a handy foldout walking map.

It's a tour of Lahaina's past through rare archival photographs — many of them never before published — and evocative first-person anecdotes.


Exploring Historic Lahaina, by Summer Kupau



by George Engebretson

Saloons and schoolhouses. Horseless carriages and sugar cane trains. Bustling streets lined with mom-and-pop stores.

Discover the story of old Wailuku town with this handy site-by-site guide, featuring 100 photographs of people, businesses, schools, churches, homes and public buildings. Many of these photos, dating from the 1870s through the 1960s, are previously unpublished family pictures revealing rare vignettes of this historic Maui town.

Each photo is keyed to a location on a detailed foldout map, offering a unique, hands-on way to explore Wailuku's rich history.

Foreword by Maui County Mayor Kimo Apana.

Exploring Historic Wailuku, by George Engebretson



by Jill Engledow

They call it Upcountry — the open country stretching from the cane fields of central Maui to the high slopes of Haleakala.

Here, in rare photographs and rich anecdotes, is Upcountry's story: a fascinating tale of sugar barons and shopkeepers, hard-working plantation families and hard-riding Hawaiian cowboys.

The photos, many previously unpublished, trace the history of Upcountry's charming, tight-knit communities — Kula, Pa'ia, Makawao, Ulupalakua and many others — with each one keyed to a location on the book's gatefold map.

Foreword by fourth-generation rancher Peter Baldwin.

Exploring Historic Upcountry, by Jill Engledow


Ancient Sites of Maui

Mokuula: Maui's Sacred Island, by Christiaan Klieger

Maui: How It Came To Be

Chinese Pioneer Families of Maui, by Ken Yee



THE BOOKS ABOVE are virtually all focused only on Maui.

THE BOOKS BELOW are about Hawaii overall, with only some chapters or stories about Maui.



by Isabella Bird

A well-written first-hand description of Hawaii in 1872, when Hawaii was known in Europe as the Sandwich Islands. The book is a series of letters written by a 40 year old British woman to her sister in Scotland.

During her stay in the islands, she traveled to all the main islands, including Maui, and the stories of her experiences are vividly described.

In the chapter about Maui, she describes Maui before sugar cane was planted, when travel required a guide because of sand storms.

She was one of the first woman ever to travel on her own, and her subsequent books are all fascinating reading, including A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, and Unbeaten Tracks in Japan.

Six Months in the Sandwich Islands, by Isabella Bird

OR another edition:

The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six Months Amongst Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands, by Isabella Bird


Mark Twain in Hawaii, by Mark Twain

Letters from the Sandwich Islands, by Mark Twain

Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands, lecture by Mark Twain (Kindle edition)


Travels in Hawaii, by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Narrative of an 1823 Tour Through Hawaii: Journal of William Ellis

Yesterday in Hawaii, by Scott Stone

Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell

Vowell considers the Americanization of Hawaii intriguing. From the arrival of New England missionaries in 1820, their goal to Christianize the local heathen, to the coup d'état of the missionaries' sons in 1893, which overthrew the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling, and often appealing or tragic, characters: whalers who fired cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their God-given right to whores, an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband, sugar barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded the first Hawaiian president of the United States during his 2009 inaugural parade.

With her trademark smart-alecky insights and reporting, Vowell lights out to discover the off, emblematic, and exceptional history of the fiftieth state, and in so doing finds America, warts and all. (From review on



[NOTE: Historical Non-Fiction Books are listed above.]

Hawaii: A Novel, by James Michener

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

Hawaii was once the center stop-over of the Pacific whaling industry. Thousands of whaling ships visited Lahaina, Maui, and many seamen walked the streets of Lahaina, including the young sailor Herman Melville, who later wrote Moby-Dick.


The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex, by Owen Chase

This the historical non-fiction book that was the inspiration for the historical fiction book Moby Dick.

On November 20, 1820, a sperm whale repeatedly rammed the whaleship Essex, causing her to sink. The 20-man crew were left in three small, open boats in the middle of the Pacific with little food and only 200 gallons of water. Bereft of charts, the boats sailed due east in the hopes of sighting land. Battered by storms, the boats became separated. Some 90 days later, a few men were rescued.

This harrowing, first-hand account by First Mate Owen Chase was originally published in 1821, just months after he returned home to Nantucket.

Twenty years after the wreck, young William Chase, Owen's son, was serving on the Lima when it met another whaling ship called the Acushnet. The crews spent some time together, and Chase told his father's story to 21-year-old Herman Melville, and lent him a copy of his father's book.

The story clearly caught Melville's imagination--"The reading of this wondrous story upon the landless sea, and close to the very latitude of the shipwreck had a surprising effect on me"--and ten years later he published Moby Dick.

(Thousands of whaling ships visited Lahaina, Maui, and many seamen walked the streets of Lahaina, including the young sailor Herman Melville.)

The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex is a well-told, truly gripping tale. ( Review - Sunny Delaney )









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