How to Hide an Empire

How to Hide an Empire

In a bit of karmic retribution for all that personal pandemic overspending on consumer appliances, I'm now TV-less after my robot vacuum knocked over my 4K LG TV (seems there should be market for anti-robot-vacuum defenses).

It was just as well, my sporadic monthly netflix subscription expired the day before, and after discovering there's no way to remove my credit card (without adding another one) or delete my account (the FAQ says it'll auto-delete after several months of inactivity), let's see how long I can last without netflix (maybe just 'til the next Stranger Things season).

In the meantime, I'm catching up on reading. The latest finish off the unfinished stack is How to Hide an Empire, which I found on the staff recommendations at Weller's Book Works. This is the book I wish I'd had in history class. Or instead of history class.

I grew up in suburban upstate New York, suburban Southern California, and suburban Iowa, so it was at college I first met Americans from not-a-state Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and in California I first met Filipinos (I wondered why there were so many Asians with Spanish names), and only just a couple of years I met someone from Guam (who moved to California with a few bucks in his pocket to find work only to find it was too expensive and then moved to Vegas and trained as a tea sommelier).

Still, I was hazy on the details of the US history with its territories, possessions, whatever you call it, except for tidbits like we were already waterboarding (and other atrocities) way back then. This book clears it up and clarifies that despite the non-colonialist image of the US, we really did have an empire (that's the word I'm looking for!) and sort of still have one now, in which not everyone can vote in federal elections, enjoy constitutional protections, or even citizenship. And by the way, in case it's a surprise, this nebulous status has always stemmed from racism (somehow Alaska and Hawaii eventually made it to statehood).

While disillusioning, it's an entertaining read with vivid personalities, particularly the depiction of Douglas MacArthur (and a nod to Neal Stephenson's characterization in Cryptonomicon).

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