How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb 19, 2019 - History - 528 pages
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Named one of the ten best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune
A Publishers Weekly best book of 2019 | A 2019 NPR Staff Pick

A pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire


We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories—the islands, atolls, and archipelagos—this country has governed and inhabited?

In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story of the United States outside the United States. In crackling, fast-paced prose, he reveals forgotten episodes that cast American history in a new light. We travel to the Guano Islands, where prospectors collected one of the nineteenth century’s most valuable commodities, and the Philippines, site of the most destructive event on U.S. soil. In Puerto Rico, Immerwahr shows how U.S. doctors conducted grisly experiments they would never have conducted on the mainland and charts the emergence of independence fighters who would shoot up the U.S. Congress.

In the years after World War II, Immerwahr notes, the United States moved away from colonialism. Instead, it put innovations in electronics, transportation, and culture to use, devising a new sort of influence that did not require the control of colonies. Rich with absorbing vignettes, full of surprises, and driven by an original conception of what empire and globalization mean today, How to Hide an Empire is a major and compulsively readable work of history.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

There is nothing else quite like this work in that the author starts with the continental "settler" empire of the 19th century, takes you through the "insular" empire that was created by the Spanish ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stevesmits - LibraryThing

Interesting view of an aspect of American history that hasn't received a lot of attention -- the territorial acquisitions of the country and their relationship to diplomacy, the military and economics ... Read full review

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About the author (2019)

Daniel Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University and the author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development, which won the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Award. He has written for Slate, n+1, Dissent, and other publications.

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