Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The Not-Quite States of America
Mack, Doug. The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA. New York: W. W. Norton, 2017.
This combination travelogue and history presents a fascinating look at territories owned by the United States. Mack took trips to the U.S. Virgin Island, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico where he commented on the culture and infused it with a bit of the history of the islands. Readers get a sense of what each of these islands are today, but the book is not quite what I expected. Many of these territories are over-commercialized; some are not. I appreciated the historical parts more than the travelogue portions, and I sincerely wish more attention to what the culture was like at the time the territories were acquired so readers could compare it to what the United States was like at that time and then draw present-day comparisons based on a number of factors. Mack points out few Americans really know much if anything about the territories. His book was designed to bridge that gap for himself and somewhat for his readers. While I'm glad I read the book, I am interested in reading other books about these territories which may be more aligned with my own interests. For example, Mack focuses on the economy and on political factors, but rarely addresses religion which is a strong interest of mine. Fortunately Mack includes a brief bibliography of other materials at the end of the book for those who want to delve a bit deeper. An advance review e-galley of this book was received by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.