Program 574: American Hawaii; Aloha Rodeo; Surfing Groundswell

Release Date: 08-17-2019


Historian Sarah Vowell revisits how the Hawaiian Islands became an American territory in the 19th century, then journalist David Wolman tells us how three cowboys from Hawaii's Big Island redefined the American West when they competed at the world's greatest rodeo championship. And writer Michael Scott Moore explores how surfing spread from Polynesia to the rest of the world.


  • Sarah Vowell, author of "Unfamiliar Fishes" (Riverhead)
  • David Wolman, author of "Aloha Rodeo" (William Morrow)
  • Michael Scott Moore, author of "Sweetness and Blood" (Rodale)

Additional Info

  • Sarah Vowell has written six best-selling nonfiction books on American history and culture. She wrote "Unfamiliar Fishes" about the American annexation and overthrow of the monarchy of the Hawaiian Islands in the 1890s. Her most recent book is about the Marquis de Lafayette and his role in the American Revolutionary War, and is called "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States."
  • Iolani Palace in Honolulu is the only royal palace in the United States.
  • David Wolman is co-author of "Aloha Rodeo," which tells the triumph of three Hawaiians at the Frontier Days World Rodeo Championship in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1908. David posts a brief historical video of these "paniolos" on his Twitter feed.
  • Michael Scott Moore has been a prominent writer on surfing, and wrote "Sweetness and Blood" about the surf pioneers who spread the sport around the world.  Michael also appeared on Travel with Rick Steves program #552 in January, 2019 to tell us about his ordeal as a captive of Somali pirates for nearly three years, which he describes in his book "The Desert and the Sea."

Haiku Awards

Economy class
Peanuts dot my pull-down tray
Islands dot my view
— Sequoya Bua-Iam, Boston, Massachusetts


Lava turned to stone
Where have Adam and Eve gone?
An Eden untouched
— Jacob Fish, Boston, Massachusetts


Snorkling in the cove.
Cows meander on dirt path.
Drums. Hips shake. Luau.
— Staci Backauskas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Program Extras

More with Sarah Vowell - Sarah Vowell, author of "Unfamiliar Fishes," tells Rick about her first luau in Hawaii, and why it's important to visit the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. (runs 3:25)