Riding the Hot Curl

In the years between the world wars, Hawaii discovered that its most valuable export was itself. During the Depression, Honolulu’s union-busting Big Five business cartel—in charge of sugar, shipping, banking, the utilities, politicians, and nearly everything in-between—closed rank and did a good job at protecting their island fiefdom from the era’s worst economic miseries, while movies, newsreels, magazines, newspapers, and radio flung Hawaiian images and songs across the Pacific to the mainl...