Tom Coffman's portrait of Edward Nakamura is both insightful biography and engrossing political history. The arc of the story may sound familiar (the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the GI Bill, Statehood), but it is strewn with surprise, resulting from Nakamura's unshakable creed and unique angle of vision. Translating the political gains of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Nakamura played a central role-unpublicised-in devising arguably the most progressive program of legislation in an American state: universal health care, temporary disability insurance, collective bargaining rights for public workers, and more-all of which forever changed the Hawai`i worker's landscape. Vaulted from relative anonymity onto the Hawai`i Supreme Court, Nakamura was acclaimed for his powerful intellect, his writing, and, most of all, his iron will and integrity. In retirement, he became a dissenting moral force. He fought mismanagement in the State Retirement System, helped to block a highly controversial Supreme Court appointment, and agitated for separating the high court from the Bishop Estate.
Tom Coffman is a writer and film-maker, grounded in the political history of Hawai`i. His Catch a Wave: A Case Study of Hawaii's New Politics, about John A. Burns and the internal battles of the Hawai`i Democratic Party, was an instant best-seller. His Nation Within: The Story of America's Annexation of the Nation of Hawai`i and The Island Edge of America: A Political History of Hawai`i both won the Hawai`i Book Publishers Association's award for nonfiction writing, and for his cumulative work he received the Hawai`i Award for Literature.