🎧 Empire State of Mind | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to Empire State of Mind by Brooke GladstoneBrooke Gladstone from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Recently, a member of the Trump administration called Puerto Rico ‚Äúthat country,‚ÄĚ obscuring once more the relationship between the island colony and the American mainland. In a special hour this week, On the Media examines the history of US imperialism ‚ÄĒ and why the familiar US map hides the true story of our country. Brooke spends the hour with Northwestern University historian¬†Daniel Immerwahr, author of¬†How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.

A stunning 50 minutes of American History here! Folks who enjoyed John Biewen and Scene on Radio’s Seeing White series are sure to love some additional layers and texture that this view on our history brings.

I’d read it in my youth and knew of it more generally, but I didn’t know that Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” was written as advice to the United States about what to do in the Philippines where there was a long and bloody US war. Then the episode has a gut-punch of a quote I’d never heard from Mark Twain, who was friends with Kipling:

‘there must be two Americas. One that sets the captive free and one that takes a once captive’s new freedom away from him, picks a quarrel with him with nothing founded on and then kills him to get his land. For that second America,’ he proposed adding a few words to the Declaration of Independence, ‘governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed White men.’

If asked before today what the bloodiest war fought on US soil was, I’d have said “The Civil War” as I suspect that most would. Interestingly it turns out that it was the Japanese conquest of the Philippines during World War II that claimed 1.5 million people–or the equivalent of two civil wars. Why don’t most students know this fact? Likely because 1 million of that number were not white. They were Filipinos who were also considered U.S. nationals at the time.

Another surprising thing I hadn’t considered before, and mentioned here, is that a large portion of the “British Invasion” of music in the 1960’s–including that of The Beatles–can be likely be put down to the fact that there’s a major U.S. military base put into Liverpool just after World War II. The increased trade and exposure of local youth to American rock-and-roll music as well as instruments sourced from the base had a tremendous influence on the city and the music that would result.

These are just of a few of my favorite portions of this incredible show.

This episode is Part 2 of their series, “On American Expansion.” I can’t wait to hear the rest.

5 thoughts on “🎧 Empire State of Mind | On the Media | WNYC Studios”

  1. Bookmarked How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    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.

    hat tip: On the Media: Empire State of Mind

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