Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Shaped by Sugar

A local journalist explores how the plantation influenced the emergence of Lihue.

Book Reviews / Rich in historic photographs, personal stories and the details derived from careful research, Lihue Mill offers an in-depth look at how 150 years of sugar cultivation turned Lihue into the political hub of Kauai, a distinction it still holds, though its mill is now shuttered.

TenBruggencate, longtime Kauai correspondent for The Honolulu Advertiser, digs deep to uncover unfamiliar tidbits about the origins of sugar and its stuttering history on Kauai. But his focus is primarily on Lihue Mill, including its unique engineering attributes.

In addition to a thorough history of Lihue Plantation, the book delves into the environmental, economic and social constraints that shaped its growth and ultimately led to its demise, with the mill grinding its last sugar in November of 2000. TenBruggencate’s vivid writing and careful reportage is further enlivened by interviews with 10 former mill employees who share their personal experiences with the plantation. In the process, they also shed light on unions, mill injuries, the sugar-making process and burning bagasse to generate electricity.

The book was financed by timeshare developer Lynn McCrory, who purchased the Lihue and Kekaha sugar mills for redevelopment. Limited copies of Lihue Mill are available for sale only at Kauai Museum and the Kauai Historical Society.

Lihue Mill: Grinding Cane & Building Community Jan TenBruggencate Pahio Development Inc. & Lihue MS, LLC, 2011. Hardcover, 115 pages, $25