Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

Book Talk: "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States," by Daniel Immerwahr, Northwestern University

Thu, March 28, 2019 | GAR 4.100

12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

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 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), 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.

Daniel Immerwahr is a historian of the United States and the world, serving in the history department at Northwestern University. His first book, Thinking Small: A Critical Account of Grassroots Foreign Aid (Harvard University Press, 2015), offers a critical account of the United States' pursuit of grassroots development at home and abroad in the middle of the twentieth century. He is an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University.

Light refreshments served. RSVP to reserve your seat: cmeador@austin.utexas.edu.

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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