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Ebook Details
  • 10/2019
  • ISBN 9780463532706
  • 224 pages
  • $3.99
Ann Kennedy
Kahana: The Untold Stories
Ann Kennedy, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

(Based on true events)   Finally, the secrets of  legendary Hollywood stuntman, Kim Kahana's dangerous life journeys and personal struggles are told.  His story reveals how he unlocks the power within himself to conquer life’s spiritual, emotional and physical challenges.  Just like the man, it's a hearty plate of gritty inspiration and encouragement 

The book models Hemingway’s simple, straightforward style, with lots of character dialog to engage teens, young adults, adults, veterans and seniors from all walks of life.   

The book models Hemingway’s simple, straightforward style, with lots of character dialog to engage teens, young adults, adults, veterans and seniors from all walks of life, who thirst for a boost of inspiration and encouragement. .   

Kim Kahana’s captivating and gripping story begins during the World War II era when he is a child growing up in Hawaii. The historical settings of Hawaii, war, post war, corrupt juvenile justice facilities, and the characters he meets along his journeys have a huge impact on his life. The diversity of these colorful characters include the Hawaiian islanders, America’s Greatest Generation, Hobos, Veterans, Hollywood Celebrities, Cowboys, Fire Sword Dancers, Stuntmen and Martial Artists.

These characters direct him on  a path of lifetime journeys that are unimaginable, dangerous and heartfelt.  Kim'a courageous deeds and unwavering spirit  brings him to triumph over personal hardships and unforeseen, dangerous events than most of us will never face in our lifetime.    


History and Hawaiian culture are interwoven in Kennedy’s promising novelization of stuntman and actor Kim Kahana’s life, developed in consultation with Kahana’s wife. Kahana’s serene life as a young boy in Hawaii is shattered in 1941 by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII. Soldiers tell Kahana stories of America, fueling the boy’s desire to go to the mainland. In 1945, after the war has ended, Kahana stows away on a cruise ship to San Francisco. During his convoluted travels through the continental United States and service in the Army, he encounters kindness from strangers, opportunities, bad luck, and second chances that set him on the path to becoming an actor and stuntman.

Kennedy’s often tender coming-of-age story successfully reveals key moments in Kahana’s adventure-filled life that shaped his career. The timeline is sometimes unclear, but it’s evident that Kahana’s curious nature, streetwise ways, and perseverance both landed him in and got him out of trouble. Readers will enjoy learning how strangers helped Kahana survive by teaching him skills and encouraging him to stay positive.

The novel is illustrated with a handful of photos, though their placement does more to interrupt the narrative than to enhance it. The simple prose (“He knows that quick breathing increases oxygen blood flow, which will give him more power”) suggests that the book is geared toward middle grade readers, but some unnecessary details, such as a paragraph describing the information printed on a business card, may not hold their interest. Any reader can appreciate beautifully descriptive passages that highlight Hawaiian culture, as well as those that capture the horrors of WWII and the Korean War and show how racism permeated American culture at the time. Kennedy’s book portrays Kahana as a model of determination and optimism through these difficult circumstances, and his story is inspiring.

Takeaway: This inspiring fictionalized biography of a stuntman’s life and career may resonate with young teens.

Great for fans of Great for fans of Bill O’Neill’s The Great Book of Hawaii, Jackie Chan’s I Am Jackie Chan.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: C
Illustrations: B
Editing: C
Marketing copy: B-

Readers Favorite

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers' Favorite 5 StarsKahana - The Untold Stories by Ann Kennedy is an amazing piece of literary fiction written in the form of the autobiography of Kim Kahana. Young Kim is staying with his teacher's family while Kim's father is at sea as the chef for the Admiral of the Coast Guard. The story begins with Kim and some other boys racing to the top of a mountain. They reach the summit just as the Japanese are   attacking Pearl Harbor. Martial law is declared and the islanders' lives are uprooted. All of Hawaii's natives are fingerprinted, processed and put on curfew. After one failed attempt, it takes 4 years of mastering martial arts and the end of WWII for Kim to sneak aboard a ship leaving for San Francisco. From there he   makes his way to his uncle who lives in New York City.Ms. Kennedy does an outstanding job of telling Kim's story of jumping on trains, escaping homes for juvenile delinquents, and meeting a host of people that help him to build his character. When the Korean War breaks out and Kim is drafted, the author knows enough about the airborne rangers to vividly describe how he is promoted to sergeant. The author's writing style was spot on as she described the horrors of war and the grenade that nearly ended his life. With Kim blinded and shattered, she describes the ex-figure skater that helps him develop his other senses. From there he  begins traveling across the country again and falls in love with motorcycles, choppers, and the world of stuntmen in the movies.Along with all of his adventures is Kim Kahana's relentless refusal to let his disabilities stop him. He is an inspiration of what true   courage is all about. Our hero is a daredevil and legendary   stuntman for some of the most famous actors in Hollywood. Ann Kennedy's Kahana - The Untold Stories comes complete with some photos from our hero's personal collection. As soon as I began reading this book, it was almost impossible to put down. When I finally got to the end, parting was such sweet sorrow. All I could say was, "Wow!"

Readers Favorite

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers Favorite Review 5 stars

Kahana – The Untold Stories is a dramatic coming of age story penned by author Ann Kennedy, and based on true life events. The basis of the tale comes from the incredible life story of war hero and Hollywood stuntman Kim Kahana, whose start in life as a child and young adult was filled with turmoil and pain. We travel with Kim from Hawaii and its cultural teachings when the events of World War Two push him into a whole new life he never expected. From harrowing false accusations, struggles to survive and all-out war later in life, Kim Kahana maintains an inspirational strength that comes through on every page.

It’s clear from the start that author Ann Kennedy is incredibly inspired by the life events of Kim Kahana and the sensei-like teachings he imparted later in life based on those experiences. Kennedy puts passion into every page of her work, illustrating each scene beautifully to give the full context and physical experience of what Kim could have been feeling at the time. The narrative and fictionalized nature of the piece suits the intended YA audience very well, bringing the circumstances to life with emotive writing and sharp dialogue that highlights the harsh nature of growing up in the post-war period. The central messages of courage and determination, will-power and self-belief, no matter what, are perfect inspirations to take from a truly incredible tale, and overall I’d definitely recommend Kahana – The Untold Stories for all teen readers seeking real-life heroes.

Readers Favorite

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite 5 stars

 Kahana - The Untold Stories: Based on True Events by Ann Kennedy is the story of the legendary stuntman Kim Kahana who literally  rose from the ashes and grew up to have his own stunt school, production company, and many black belts in multiple styles of martial arts. His story begins as he tries to live as an ordinary youth in Hawaii. Kahana is of American/Japanese descent, making him the odd one out right from the beginning. His life was pretty peaceful until World War II happened and his life went down a hill that never seemed to end. However, that didn’t stop him; he knew that he had to stand on his own two feet and make something out of his life.

And there began his journey of self-discovery, learning, and understanding that as long as he landed on his two feet, he could do it all.

Kahana is written in the style of a biography which makes the message of the story sit very firmly right in your heart. You can connect with Kim Kahana, experience his pain, struggle and his determination to make something bigger and better of his life. I knew of Kahana as the stuntman who broke more than 60 bones in his body during his career as a stuntman and after reading this novel, I have a newfound appreciation for all the hard work he put into his career. His story is incredibly inspirational and encouraging.  I enjoyed reading how hard-headed and overconfident he had to become to make a name for himself in Hollywood and have the people who laughed at him say his name with pride. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I wish it was longer. Simply inspirational and amazing.





book review by Jonah Meyer
"The ghostly night transforms the island into a spiritual odyssey. Tribal men hold torches high above their heads. Fire sparks and crackles as if ten-thousand fireflies are swarming."

It is 1941 in Hawaii, and young Kim Kahana, like other children in his village, learns from the tribal elders about Hawaiian heritage, history, and folklore. They also learn the martial art of Lua. The extraordinary power of its discipline, focus, and physical strength are to play a significant role in the life story of young Kahana. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. is thrust into World War II, life on the island changes dramatically. "Whenever Kim needs to escape the harsh realities" of what is happening around him, Kennedy writes, "he ventures down to the docks," where he befriends American soldiers and begins to dream of life on the mainland.

From there, Kennedy weaves together an amazing tale of Kahana's life on the move, from one experience to another and often on the run, hopping trains and working odd jobs throughout the States. This is the same young man who eventually grows up to become a Korean War hero, an accomplished Samoan fire sword dancer, and a Hollywood stuntman, working in such television series as The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Danger Island. His later films include Charles Bronson’s Death Wish, Soylent Green with Charlton Heston, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Mission Impossible.

Kennedy has written an intensely entertaining biography of a kid who once harvested the fields in his native Hawaii and goes on to become a successful actor, stuntman, and film martial-artist. Her colorful stories of Kahana create an action-packed page-turner. Older children, teens, and adults alike will find this to be an original read, full of heroism, true grit, and love interests, all while the protagonist never forgets his pre-WWII Hawaiian-village roots and the people who helped shape his outlook on life and, along the way, guided him through many personal and professional successes.

Ebook Details
  • 10/2019
  • ISBN 9780463532706
  • 224 pages
  • $3.99