Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust

Discussion Questions

  • Introduction:
    • The book’s authors tell the Broken Trust story in the third person, but Shapiro uses the first person in the book’s introduction.  What is the difference between the first- and third-person styles of writing?
    • According to Shapiro, there was danger in criticizing Bishop Estate trustees.  What did people fear?  Why did so many people hesitate to speak their opinions on something important?  If you had been in Shapiro’s position, would you have published the Broken Trust essay like he did? 
    • According to Shapiro, Hawaiians were fiercely protective of Bishop Estate trustees for many years, but then something changed that.  In your own words, explain what caused the change.
    • According to Shapiro, the Broken Trust essay was powerful primarily because of the reputations of the four kupuna who help write it.  Why would the public be so influenced by the authors’ reputations?  What is your reputation?  If you wanted a different reputation, how would you go about changing the one you currently have?
    • Shapiro briefly describes how judges are chosen.  If it were your job to select judges, what would you look for in candidates?  Who among your friends and classmates would make the best judge?  What is it about that person that causes you to say that?
    • According to Shapiro, it is good for a community to have competing newspapers.  Why do you think he believes that?  Do you agree with him?
    • Shapiro wrote, “Before the Bishop Estate trustees fell, corrupt officials felt confident they could act with impunity; after, they had to seriously fear being caught and punished.”  What does “impunity” mean?  What is the best way to make sure that government officials are always honest and effective?