Find out why First Hawaiian Bank President and CEO Don Horner (shown at left via hawaiiautodealer.com), who since 2005 has been setting his own record at the bank after replacing Walter Dods, is reading about the end of the world.

An edited version of this interview appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser in August 2007.

What I’m Reading | Don Horner

President and CEO, First Hawaiian Bank

Q&A with Christine Thomas

–What are you reading?

I enjoy reading; I use that as a form of relaxation. I typically enjoy historical fiction. I read probably a book a week at least. I’m reading “The Rising Tide” by Jeff Shaara, about World War Two and Rommel. He does a great job because it’s extremely detailed about that part of the war, the personalities and issues. So typically I read those sorts of things. Like I’ve read all of the Richard Sharpe’s Adventure Series by Bernard Cornwall, about Napoleonic lords—there’s 16 different books in that series. I also of course read Clancy and I like Steve Ambrose who’s a classic historical fiction author.

I also have the Left Behind Series since I also really enjoy reading Christian books. There are about 16 books in the series–he just wrote the last one a year ago. It’s about when Christ comes again, and what happens to the Christian believers is they take them all out of the world, so it’s about the life of those who were left behind. It’s a struggle between good and evil. It’s Christian-based but one can argue it’s science fiction.

I also read “The Experience: A Devotional and Journal : Day-By-Day With God” by Henry Blackaby. I find that very inspirational early in the morning and enjoy reading history in the evenings. I’ve also read everything about the life of Charles Reed Bishop, because next year we’ll be celebrating the bank’s 150th anniversary and to honor that are releasing a documentary on his life.

–How did you develop an interest in historical fiction?

I just like the balance because I enjoy history, and I prefer an author who is more of a historian than a fiction writer. If you look at the Richard Sharpe’s Adventure Series, Cornwall is extremely detailed. … He goes into detail about meeting these real personalities, whether Napoleon or Admiral Nelson or whoever it is. So you really learn a lot about history and the characters in history, and the different perspectives as well as the battles. …

–Does this affinity for detail reflect your oft-noted analytical approach to banking

I never thought of it that way. One of my best friends is a physician and he tends to like the same books I do, so maybe there’s truth to that in that they’re both very detailed professions. I think I enjoy the human side—I find reading pure history boring, but here history is simply the backdrop. … So I enjoy the individual, but the details like what people ate in the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s—you realize how things are very similar today, in terms of characters and struggles and issues. So you have tremendous appreciation for the ingenuity and the intellect of folks in those years. Like I’m also reading about Bishop—going over the details to make sure they’re extremely accurate, that it’s truth. I’ve enjoyed that journey. … The banking business is all about people—it really is all about people. You don’t get a PhD in banking. It’s really an intuitive business about character and integrity. But you also need the details of the dollars and cents. It’s a combination.

– Christine Thomas

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