Book #22 is Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. This is my second Vowell book on American history and I'm liking her style. And I'm liking learning about American history. Score! Anyway, this book is about the American colonization and eventual annexation of the Hawaiian islands. I realize that aside from the fact that two of my all-time favourite TV shows being set and/or filmed in Hawaii (that would be Magnum P.I. and Lost), I really know nothing about it. So this book was fascinating as it chronicled the early Protestant missionaries who gave up their comfy lives in New England to go proselytize on some tiny, gorgeous islands that were very different from anything they'd ever known. This took place shortly after the great King Kamehameha had conquered and united all the islands under him. The missionaries did some good things, they introduce literacy, including facilitating creating a written component for the native Hawaiian language. Of course, this was all done under the auspices of converting the native population to Christiantiy and basically helped almost eventually stamp out the native Hawaiian language... but y'know, nothing really new there. And of course, also with the missionaries and the new trading and whatnot, came the western diseases, with small pox devastating the native population, driving their numbers down from hundreds of thousands to just 40,000 or so by the time the white missionaries and land-owners overthrew the last Queen of Hawaii and offered the islands to the States for annexation. It's a very interesting, and personal book too about a time when America was very busy being an imperial power and gobbling up smaller islands they deemed as strategically important.
Book #23 is In the Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick. This is the third and last book of Hollick's very, very historical based Arthur. I see now that she actually did do a good job of fitting the legend side of things into a more historical basis. She even had a triangle going there, with the more Celtic Bedwyr standing in for the late-comer Lancelot. But her Arthur was a douche and I got SO SICK of all the arguing and fighting he did with Gwenwyfar. I might as well have been watching a post-Roman Britain version of Moonlighting where everyone's just yelling at one another all the time. Ick. Also, it got to the point where I was having a tough time keeping track of all of Arthur's illegitimate kids. Hollick's Arthur was a lot of a dog. Like his father. So yeah, definitely not my favourite telling of the legends, but as we know, I tend to prefer my Arthurian legends with magic and Lancelot included.