Honor Killing by David E. Stannard
Race, Rape, and Clarence Darrow's Spectacular Last Case

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In the fall of 1931, Thalia Massie, the bored, aristocratic wife of a young naval officer stationed in Honolulu, accused six nonwhite islanders of gang rape. The ensuing trial let loose a storm of racial and sexual hysteria, but the case against the suspects was scant and the trial ended in a hung jury. Outraged, Thalia’s socialite mother arranged the kidnapping and murder of one of the suspects. In the spectacularly publicized trial that followed, Clarence Darrow came to Hawai’i to defend Thalia’s mother, a sorry epitaph to a noble career.

It is one of the most sensational criminal cases in American History, Stannard has rendered more than a lurid tale. One hundred and fifty years of oppression came to a head in those sweltering courtrooms. In the face of overwhelming intimidation from a cabal of corrupt military leaders and businessmen, various people involved with the case—the judge, the defense team, the jurors, a newspaper editor, and the accused themselves—refused to be cowed. Their moral courage united the disparate elements of the non-white community and galvanized Hawai’i’s rapid transformation from an oppressive white-run oligarchy to the harmonic, multicultural American state it became.  

Honor Killing is a great true crime story worthy of Dominick Dunne—both a sensational read and an important work of social history


About David E. Stannard

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David E. Stannard received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is currently a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i. He is a Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and American Council of Learned Societies fellow whose five previous books include American Holocaust.
Published May 2, 2006 by Penguin Books. 496 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, War. Non-fiction

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A fascinating slice of Hawaiian history, investigated with scholarly rigor by Stannard (American Studies/Univ. of Hawaii; American Holocaust, 1994, etc.).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Honor Killing: Race, Rape, an...

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