The World of Bananas in Hawai`i

 by Dr. Angela Kay Kepler & Francis G. Rust,
612 pp, 1,900 color illustrations, Price US $80

Long awaited, The World of Bananas in Hawai`i: Then and Now - unique, comprehensive, colorful, authoritative and readable - culminates nine years of exhaustive library research coupled with painstaking field and agricultural investigations in Hawai`i and other Pacific islands. It is the first book about bananas in Hawai`i and a major contribution to Hawaiian culture. It is also the first attempt to trace banana/plantain evolution within the Pacific. Truly a "banana bible", it is written in highly accessible prose embracing a broad array of topics. Lavishly and artistically illustrated, it covers virtually every edible and inedible banana in Hawai`i, Polynesian introduced and international, including the spectacular ornamentals and fe`i. The World of Bananas reflects a deep respect for Hawaiian oral history and esteemed post-contact literature, reviving long-forgotten traditional foods, chants, crafts, and everyday clothing woven from bananas. Drawing too, from Kepler's 30-year, Pacific-wide ecological research, we discover original ideas such as how migrant seabirds likely guided Marquesan seafarers to colonize Hawai`i. Delight in the multihued tapestry of true-to-life banana tales from the nebulous dawn of Hawaiian history to the present, including rediscoveries of legendary banana groves. The authors shed fascinating new light on Hawai`i's little-known "pregnant" banana, Mai'a Hāpai, and resurrect a long-forgotten minor goddess, Hina-`ea, whose curative Mai`a Lele banana once healed Vitamin A deficiencies in children.