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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
by Christina Thompson

Fantastic book. It's a history of the "puzzle of Polynesia" - how did the islands of the Pacific, so far from each other and so remote from any continent, come to be populated by a common people, making Polynesians "both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world"?

Christina Thompson doesn't attempt to provide a definitive answer to that question, because a definitive answer is likely impossible to find. Rather, she takes us through the history of the question itself, and how answers to it have grown and evolved since Europeans first came to Polynesia.

It's a story that's part history, part anthropology, part archeology, part genetic research, and part cultural renaissance, and she makes all of it interesting. There are a number of personalities highlighted in this book. I was especially taken with the story of Nainoa Thompson, the young Hawaiian who was instrumental in returning Polynesian voyaging as a skillset and a way of living to Hawaii and Polynesia at large.

The book is capped off with Thompson's well thought out and beautifully written Coda, where she talks about the "two ways of knowing", one arising from the Polynesian culture, one from the European.

I rate Christina Thompson's Sea People 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - it is a fantastic book. If you have any interest in the history of Polynesia, or of European exploration, or of cultural "contact", do yourself a favor and pick this up.

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Title: Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
Author: Christina Thompson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: March 12, 2019
ISBN-13: 9780062060877
List Price: $29.99 (Hardcover as of 12/2021)

Revised 12/2021