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Guantánamo: An American History Hardcover


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Guantánamo: An American History + The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Pulitzer Prize for Biography) + Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; 1ST edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809053411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809053414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Jonathan M. Hansen has dug beneath all the self-serving American myths about the history of Guantánamo Bay to expose a fascinating—and enduring—colonial enterprise. It makes a great story, which Hansen carries through to its latest twist—the use of Guantánamo as a prison for suspected terrorists, some of whom were subjected to torture. Hansen shines a bright new light on Bush administration lawlessness.” —Anthony Lewis, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
 
“In this brilliant blend of social and political history, Jonathan M. Hansen puts a small but critically important corner of the American empire under the microscope. What he reveals may not be pretty, but it’s powerfully instructive and endlessly fascinating.” —Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
 
“Most accounts of the United States in Cuba paint heroes and villains in black and white according to the author’s political perspective. With exquisite craftsmanship, Jonathan M. Hansen paints in all the subtle shades of gray required to illuminate the tangled history of this highly charged symbol of American power. This fascinating book is the one to read if you want to understand what lies beneath the current controversies surrounding Guantánamo.” —James T. Kloppenberg, Chair of the History Department and Charles Warren Professor of American History, Harvard University
 
“With wit and verve, Jonathan M. Hansen illuminates the long, strange, compelling, and troubling story of Guantánamo. A vivid and thoughtful writer, Hansen employs Guantánamo as a prism to reveal the tangled construction of an overseas American empire.” —Alan Taylor, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
 
“As former commander in chief of the U.S. Southern Command, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Guantánamo. And then I read Jonathan M. Hansen’s book. This is essential reading for all who are curious about how America got into its current predicament—and about America’s global aspirations reaching back before the United States was even a country.” —General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret)
 
“As we confront the future of Guantanamo, we need to know the long and complex pre- 9/11 history of this unique place. Jonathan M. Hansen’s important and deeply researched book delivers that fascinating and often disturbing history.” —Thomas Bender, author of A Nation among Nations
 
“Like a rough tear in the fabric of our national identity, the United States’ presence at Guantánamo Bay betrays the paradox that has shaped our history: the U.S. has been, since its inception, both a bastion of independence and an imperial nation. In this enthralling and meticulously researched narrative, the historian Jonathan M. Hansen lays bare the uncomfortable truths that precipitated our occupation of a small and fiercely independent neighbor. Guantánamo has been a stronghold of American influence over an independent Cuba, a holding pen for Haitian refugees living with HIV, and, more recently, the site of human rights atrocities at its notorious prison camp. Here, Hansen offers a clear-eyed and fearless examination of the place that remains a global theatre for the consequences of America’s pursuit of power.” —Paul Farmer, United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti
 
“This well-researched and well-written book will appeal to all readers.” —Library Journal
 
“In this well-written and lively account of a place most Americans find thoroughly mysterious, Jonathan M. Hansen, a historian at Harvard University, offers a carefully crafted history of one of America’s most paradoxical possessions, viewed in connection to United States national interest.” —Charles R. Gallagher, America: The Catholic Weekly
 
“Hansen’s book is the best, and certainly the most comprehensive, I’ve read on Guantanamo.” —Dr. Wayne S. Smith, Senior Fellow and director of the Cuba program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.
 

About the Author

Jonathan M. Hansen, a historian at Harvard University, is the author of The Lost Promise of Patriotism: Debating American Identity, 1890–1920.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The book is written in an engaging style and moves along nicely.
Dr T
For those who are interested in U.S. history, this is a well done look at an important segment of our history and I recommend it highly.
DOCTOR P
Clearly a prodigious amount of research, well organized, objective and most important, written with clarity and verve.
Gene

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George I. Ferris on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great piece of research. I appreciated the geology and anthropology pages. Best treatment of the Platt debate both in U.S. and Cuba. Thorough and clearly stated. If U.S. Latin American policy following the Spanish-American War reads 'imperialist' with a tinge of 'divine right', so be it. It was. It isn't pretty by today's standards. And hypocricy seems never to go out of fashion. Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti, Guatemala and others have experienced similar treatment. We must continue to read histories like this until we learn a little humility. If the truth hurts, find out why. Scholarship such as this certainly enlightens us all and might even influence Washington. One would hope.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David J. Giber on May 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes a single place or incident becomes a lens for viewing a huge expanse of time and events. In this book, Jonathan Hansen has made Guantanamo a larger than life location from which the history of the Americas and particularly the United States can be viewed. The connections of so many famous figures to this place and the seemingly never ending American fascination with Guantanamo and Cuba comes completely alive and engages you with its twists and turns. I agree with the reviewer who wrote that it was hard to put down the book as one follows Guantanamo from incidents like the early military engagement there involving George Washington's half brother to the Cuban Revolution and on to the present disgrace of the US prison there. The writing style sets a quick and easy pace while the historical details are absolutely fascinating. This book is so relevant as we debate what should be the extent of our current foreign involvements today; Hansen artfully allows the reader to think through their own perspective on these issues while trying to learn from the past. This is not just a history of Guantanamo but a wonderful piece of writing that brings a new perspective on the American experience. It will surprise and capture you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judith Hallenbeck on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1956 as a young girl of 16 moving to Guantanamo Bay, due to my father being assigned to the Naval Hospital, it was just another move as a Navy Junior. Now some 56 years later and after reading Mr. Hansen's book, Guantanamo, An American History, I realize what a privilege it was to live in a place with so much exciting history and so much more history to come.

I can attest to the 1956-1958 period and the Coral Reef yearbook. Imagine my surprise to see my name and those of my classmates in the book. We were typical teenagers living in an unusual place free to do whatever we wanted.

Instead of writing what could have been an extremely dry book Mr. Hansen has written a very readable one starting with US relations with Spain and ending with the ongoing imprisonment of 9/11 detainees.

Many mistakes have been made by the United States in Guantanamo and relations that ensued with Cuba,Haiti, Russia, etc. but I don't think the book represents a bashing of the United States. It is a statement of fact. We have in the past and continue now to impose our will and what we think is best on other countries. Is this practice wrong-only time will tell.

Judy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DOCTOR P on February 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As one who was stationed at Guantanamo Naval Base for two years, from July 1959 to July 1961, I found this book very interesting, informative and well researched and written. I take serious issue with those reviewers who feel that the author was unfairly critical of the U.S. and some of its policies over the years. To me it is quite clear that our country made many mistakes concerning a number of issues in which Guantanamo was either central or peripheral. What makes our country strong is the ability to discover those mistakes, reassess them and try not to repeat them in the future. As I think many of us have learned over the past 10 years our country is not perfect, but that it is still the best country in our difficult world. For those who are interested in U.S. history, this is a well done look at an important segment of our history and I recommend it highly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rex on December 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For the history scholar, this is a fascinating book that you will add to your library with pride. From the Spanish American war to the current day prison for terrorists, each page draws you on to the next with the excitement of historical fact. For those who served on the base at Guantanamo, this is a MUST read. I found myself saying: "I'll read for 15 minutes and return later." Two hours later I'd still be reading because I couldn't find a place to stop! So much history has occurred at Guantanamo in the 100 years plus since the United States has arrived. Jonathan Hansen turns dry facts into an exciting book that you will be unable to lay down. It flows in an orderly manner as history unfolds at Guantanamo and it will rivet your attention until you reach the last page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Straubel on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In his "Guantanamo," Jonathan Hansen has created one of those landmarks treasured by historians. But today's readers will find - with all its scope and documentation - an intimate and engaging read.
John Straubel
Director and Editor, Both Sides Now, Inc.
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