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

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  44 reviews
For a country that outwardly denies any imperial conquest, the United States owns a lot of foreign territory.

Beneath its anti-expansionist rhetoric, the US has quietly created an informal empire. It has dropped bombs, staged coups, meddled in foreign elections, aided dictators, and ‘Cocacolonized’ the world. But what about the actual territories?the islands, atolls, and ar
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Hardcover, First Edition (U.K.), 528 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by The Bodley Head Ltd. (first published February 19th 2019)
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4.42  · 
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 ·  233 ratings  ·  44 reviews


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Mehrsa
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. A must read. Seriously, go read it right now.

I grew up in the shadow of the US empire so I've always understood that the US was an empire, but it did occur to me at some point after I immigrated that no one here saw it that way. On the middle east, the story was that Middle Easterners just didn't understand or want democracy. The truth is that the empires (British, Russian and then US) kept taking out our elected leaders because they knew they would lose their oil monopolies. And eac
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Devyn
I received this book from Goodreads.

"In the end, this book's main contribution is not archival, bringing to light some never-before-seen document. It's perspectival, seeing a familiar history differently." page 16

A brilliant book!
How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States is a must read for anyone interested in obscure American history and the revolutionary switch from annexing territory for resources, to divesting large colonies and investing in military bases around the glo
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William Harris
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently had the privilege of receiving an advanced copy of "How to Hide an Empire," by Daniel Immerwahr (courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux). I am pleased to report that this book is one of the finest recent analysis of imperialism (in its modern, evolved, guise). What is more, this formidable task is accomplished in a very accessible and well documented manner. Fundamentally, it is a text which assesses the new American and Global Empire, as distinguished from the 18th Century models most ...more
Carin
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before the hurricane hit it last year, did you know Puerto Rico was a part of the United States? How many other US territories can you name? Just one or two? The US Virgin Islands are fairly easy because they have "The US" in the name. And Guam is often listed with them so you might get that too. But there have been hundreds of others. Does that surprise you?

We try to pretend that the US is unique among superpowers in that we never had colonies. But we kind of did. The Philippines. The Guano Isl
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Ted Morgan
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking and undeniable, this work by Daniel Immerwahr reveals the not well hidden work of the United States of America to inflict racist, brutal, selfish exploitation over the planet. We have pretended to be benevolent. We are not. We never were. We are resented and hated where we have dominated and used other nations for our whim, economic exploitation, and control generally through our hegemony but often just directly when we have wanted to do that and can get away with its
Max
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Starts off stronger than it ends; the more abstract the empire gets, the less revelatory it is. But at least half of this book has some stunning thing on every page that we all should have learned in middle school.
Anne
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways-won
I received How to Hide an Empire as part of a giveaway program. In a nutshell, the author has gone above and beyond to show that the United States is more than the 50 states. The book covers history behind why presidents started acquiring land and why they keep it. With the advent of beginning with radio, satellites, and GPS land has meant less as a way of accruing population but more in housing military installations.
Andie
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very readable history on the United States' adventures in Empire building. Usually we mostly hear government denials on this subject, but Daniel Immerwahr lays out a clear case that we have had one for a very long time.

He begins by talking about the "manifest destiny" of the westward expansion that began as a concentrated campaign against the Native Americans almost as soon as the Constitution was ratified and culminated with William Seward's purchase of Alaska from Russia

He then descr
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Eleanor Carter
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for students of American culture & history. Clear, accessible writing and thouroughly researched. Don't expect a full sweep of American colonies and territories –– you'll have to look elsewhere. Instead Immerwahr shines a light on these historical moments as they impact the wider political and economic forces that allow us to classify the U.S. as an empire, today and for virtually all of its history.
Adora Svitak
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible indictment of our historical (and present-day) practice of extracting wealth and strategic benefit from holding colonies (then, "territories," and military bases) while denying basic rights to the inhabitants of those places. It's a lot of history you don't learn in school, to our collective loss! In a chapter on the US's strategy of seeking out "relatively small, lightly populated islands" for airstrips and nuclear testing (oftentimes driving off native populations or exposing the ...more
Evan
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half: this is the book I've been looking for for years, outlining the origins of US global hegemony in the "frontier thesis" and the Spanish-American war. Chapters dealing with the parallel historical developments in the Philippines and Puerto Rico are particularly interesting, though I was hoping for more about the "unofficial" colonies such as the puppet regime in republican-era Cuba, or the International Settlement in Shanghai. Nonetheless, fascinating stuff and jam packed with amus ...more
Xavier Shay
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best history book I've read? Fast paced, interesting, about a topic I don't know much about. Excellent.
Chris
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like American history/political science this is your next read. It educates, it surprises, it horrifies, it makes you laugh, it makes you scream mea culpa. We live in a great country, but we are not always great. The adage, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it", definitely applies.
Anca
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Interesting, captivating, well-researched and well-written. This one I will revisit, and some chapters may find their way on several of my classes' mandatory reading lists.
Trashy Dreams
Thorough and great in concept, but dryer than I was hoping for. Plus I couldn't really get into any kind of narrative groove. The info and time frames jumped all over the place.
Deb
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely eye-opening information! We are so convinced that the US is the greatest country when in reality we are just good at hiding our Empire! I very much enjoyed having my perspective widened, by this author!
Benjamin
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history that is definitely not taught in schools (but most certainly should be). The US approach to empire is a very sad, tragic, and often shameful story. This is an important book that sheds light on the marginalized people of US territories (who are US citizens!) whose suffering has gone largely unnoticed.
LeAnn
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pros: Fascinating, love how the author would always connect things to the present, super informative, doesn't try to sugar coat history or always show the government in a positive light, written like a story more than just facts and figures.

Cons: Not the biggest fan of the cover and a lot of the pictures inside the book were hard to see/read - they were either too grainy or faded looking.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There's several people and stories from the book that I actually want to
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Chris Roberts
Feb 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The American Indian always, only, lays claim to this land.

A racial wasteland exists,
within the oddly delineated borders,
of a country known as America,
marginalized citizens call out for freedom
and have the last ounce of hope beaten out of them.

#poem #USA

Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of the Whooping Crane
Jeff
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the first thing I've read by the author.

I'll start by saying I was never good at history in high school or college, i just never enjoyed it. Having said that, i think i would have remembered at least some of the things in this book of they had been taught in any of those classes. If school books were writen in a style as easy to read as this book I may have paid more attention.
Rita
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, review
REVIEW ON MY BLOG (https://bookishr.wordpress.com) ON SUN, MAR 10, 2019

🌞 Fast-paced, fast-paced, fast-paced
It's not often that history books are fast-paced, but this one was written with such engaging language and with so many amazing rhetorical elements that reading it felt like reading about an adventure.

As the author took me on a trip to Southeast Asia, to the Caribbeans, and to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I couldn't help but be glued to the screen (I read an e-copy). Immerwahr puts ever
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E. C. Koch
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Within my lifetime I've heard America's history, and its anticipated fate, compared frequently to that of the Romans. Both noble republics. Both took to electing maniacs. Both undone by their excesses. Both empires. And while the parallels between them are myriad, it's this last one that seems to stick in the collective craw, because America, you see, is not an empire. Or so we're made to understand. And the means through which we're made to understand this is, in my experience, the education pr ...more
Rāhul
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The United States has a deep discomfort with empire, born as it was out of revolt against one. However, in any objective measure- be it of unrepresented territories or of extra-territorial influence worldwide, empire is what it is. Daniel Immerwahr combines historical erudition and a fluent writing style in this primer to the past and present of US empire. In roughly the first 150 years of its existence, the USA expanded westwards, annexing native American land first as territories and then offe ...more
Jessica
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history, law
"The history of America is the history of empire."

"In the end, this book's main contribution is not archival...it's perspectival, seeing a familiar history differently."()

Is the United States an empire? This book presents an eye-opening look on the history of the United States and its territories--Guam, the Philippines, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The book focuses on the history of the United States in two parts: the Colonial Empire and the Pointillist Empire. Immerwahr is able to focu
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Jake
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was challenged to read a book I'd probably disagree with, and I've always disliked when people refer to the US as an "Empire". I was previously aware of the fact that the US had colonized the Philippines, and that we had taken a number of other islands from Spain. This was still pretty eye-opening in terms of what's gone on on American soil. It's a shame that the Philippines never figures more prominently in WWII history. It's just as eye-opening why America has itself rebuffed the idea that i ...more
Roy Farchmin
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enlightening indictment of United States imperialism from the westward exploitation on the American Indians by our founding fathers to the “pointillist” of our present day military bases around the world. Daniel Immerwahr writes with a novelist’s ability for narrative while presenting a historical account of America’s rise to world dominance through initial land imperialism to industrial, economic, technological, military and language imperialism. ‘Especially stark are the descriptions of the ...more
Terry
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Do you live in a world where the US is an empire [...]? Or do you live in a world where the US is a helpful non-Empire that protects the weak [...]?
— Aaron Bady, “Who’s the Baddie? Captain Marvel in the Age of American Empire,” Los Angeles Review of Books, March 21, 2019, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/w...

There are a number of generals in this story, but I don't seem to recall encountering any officers as low in rank as captain. Neither Captain America nor Captain Marvel. But Immerwahr doe
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Rachel Lichtman Castaño
This was a really really great book. It didn't go super in-depth about every single thing it talked about, but I learned a lot, especially about how the US acquired many of its current territories *cough* colonies and about their involvement in the Philippines before, during, and after World War II. Overall, an excellent and infuriating read about empire and power
Alex
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably more of a 4.5, but I'll round up since there is just a boatload of facts and insights I had not known before reading this. Most interesting segment for me delved into the managerial, cultural, and economic innovations which let the US build a "pointillist" empire, rather than a traditional one after WWII.
Lesley
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, picks
I found this book fascinating and learned SO MUCH. Even the most mundane topics (standards and practices anyone?) were somehow incredibly compelling. This side of history really lays out how systemic white supremacy is in our government/culture. I mean, wow.

If you are a fan of Devil in the White City, there is a large segment of the book where you get to learn about what architect Daniel Burnham was up to after working on the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. So that was fun.

Also, I did not expec
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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.