Book Review: Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawai’i …

I recently read:

Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawai’i and the battle for Statehood
by John S. Whitehead
ISBN 0-8263-3636-1

And wanted to share my review of the book:

John Whitehead draws together oral histories, extensive interviews and work with archival sources to tell a compelling tale of how Alaska and Hawai’i became America’s 49th and 50th states.

This compelling story is made all the more interesting by Mr. Whitehead’s first chapter where he explains how he could not interest any fellow historians in this history. Mr. Whitehead claims that every historian he approached dismissed the story of Alaska/Hawai’l statehood as an extremely dull legislative history.

Mr. Whitehead brings that history alive by setting the statehood battle against the backdrop of World War II and the the early years of the Cold War. America’s need to fight transformed the two territories and made their admission possible.

One fact that came out in this book I did not know before was that Japanese-Americans avoided internment in Hawai’i through the efforts of a single general – Gen. Delos Emmons. He was repeatedly ordered to round up the Japanese in Hawai’l and kept finding reasons NOT to carry out that order. Talk about about a solider fighting for people’s freedom. It also teaches that there are sometimes differences between what is ordered and what is right.

Thank you Gen. Emmons, for making a bright spot in an otherwise dark time for civil rights!

If you have any interest in American history at all, you will enjoy this book. Give it a try!

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