The sport has come a long way since its early roots and I am more familiar with the triathlon greats of the 1980s then the names and careers of the current stars. If you really want to read about the greatest Ironman race of them all, make sure to read Iron War about the Dave Scott-Mark Allen 1989 dual.
If you want to read some interesting and entertaining tidbits about the first Ironman Triathlon held on Kona, rather than the first few races on Oahu, then read Mark Montgomery's training and racing experience from the 1981 race. You will be entertained and maybe astounded about how little was known about training and racing the Ironman distance in those days. I can confirm how little information was out there as I did my first Ironman distance race in 1983 and I had no clue (yet 1983 was light years ahead of what was known in 1981). What the current crop of triathletes are missing is the total wide-eyed innocence of racing in those days, and how much fun we had making it up as we went along. Here is where you can read Monty's accounts.
Ironman History Lesson that First Year (Slowtwitch forum)
The interesting thing for me is of all the many names mentioned in Monty's posts about 1981, I recall each and every one except for one name that doesn't ring a bell. I look at the top ten lists of this years winners in Kona and some names are unfamiliar to me.