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Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia [Kindle Edition]

David Vine
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured. But Diego Garcia harbors another dirty secret, one that has been kept from most of the world--until now.

Island of Shame is the first major book to reveal the shocking truth of how the United States conspired with Britain to forcibly expel Diego Garcia's indigenous people--the Chagossians--and deport them to slums in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where most live in dire poverty to this day. Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders, military strategists, and exiled islanders, as well as hundreds of declassified documents, David Vine exposes the secret history of Diego Garcia. He chronicles the Chagossians' dramatic, unfolding story as they struggle to survive in exile and fight to return to their homeland. Tracing U.S. foreign policy from the Cold War to the war on terror, Vine shows how the United States has forged a new and pervasive kind of empire that is quietly dominating the planet with hundreds of overseas military bases.

Island of Shame is an unforgettable exposé of the human costs of empire and a must-read for anyone concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its consequences.The author will donate all royalties from the sale of this book to the Chagossians.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vine, assistant professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C., relates the untold story of how in the 1970s, the U.S. forcibly relocated the population of Diego Garcia, a small archipelago near the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, in order to build a military base. Colonized by first the French, then the British, the island was populated by African slaves used to cultivate the coconut plantations fueling Mauritius's sugar industry. Vine reveals how the official U.S. Navy strategy of using island naval bases to secure American power during the Cold War led to the decision to deport the indigenous population, the Chagossians, who were not compensated for the loss of livelihood or property and endured pervasive institutional racism, extreme poverty and health problems. Interviews with surviving Chagossians and the officials who supervised the relocation show the strategic planning and careful coverup in establishing what is now one of the largest military bases in the world. While Vine has done a great service in documenting the forgotten plight of the Chagossians, the book's sluggish pace and painstaking details will dissuade casual readers. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


[A] meticulously researched, coldly furious book that details precisely how London and Washington colluded in a scheme of population removal more redolent of the eighteenth or nineteenth century than the closing decades of the twentieth. . . . [O]ne likes to think that if Barack Obama were somehow to stumble across a copy of David Vine's fine book, he would instantly realize that a great injustice has been done--one that could easily be put right.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1170 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,166,000 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This is a detailed and well researched account of how UK and US governments conspired in the 1970's to ethnically cleanse a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Over 1000 people were forcibly removed from the Chagos Archipelago to make way for a huge US air and submarine base. It has been in the news recently because the government is trying to make things look better by declaring an MPA and using that as an excuse to prevent the Chagossians from returning.

It's a sickening story that makes me ashamed to be British. I understand that David Vine is donating the royalties from this book to the Chagossian community.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UK/US hypocrisy exposed March 22, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very well researched account of a most disgraceful episode involving the adverse treatment of the Chagossian people by the UK and US governments. It reveals how and why the UK and US governments colluded with each other to remove the Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago to allow a secret military base to be built at Diego Garcia.

This book is of particular interest to me because the removal of the Chagossians from their islands between 1968 and 1973 occurred during my secondary school years in the Seychelles Islands. I must deduce that, at the time, the removal of the Chagossians was done in a most secretive manner for I do not recall any discussion, conversation, debate, radio program (there was no TV), political debate, public rally, or public comment by the then Seychelles Governor, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, on this issue. Nor do I recall the Catholic Church ever once mentioning this issue at any Sunday mass, or at any other time. My parents, of course, did mention Diego Garcia from time to time, but I can only presume they also were kept in the dark because they never mentioned anything about the plight of the Chagossians. The Chagossians were considered the cousins of the Seychellois, with an almost identical creole language and heritage.

As I read this book, I cannot explain the anger I felt, and feel, for this gross injustice carried out by Britain and America against the innocent Chagossian people. It is tantamount to a crime against humanity. This book exposes the gross hypocrisy of the British and Americans. They were preaching human rights to the world while abusing the human rights of the Chagossians. And all because the US needed Diego Garcia for a military base.

I wish everyone would read this book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly Researched, and Moving June 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anthropologist David Vine spent years researching and writing "Island of Shame", and the meticulousness with which he approached his subject matter shows. For this reader, the book provided important nuances beyond the time constraints of John Pilger's moving television documentary on the deportation of the Chagossians, especially with regard to the type and level of compensation doled out to the evicted Cold War residents of Diego Garcia. (About the only thing missing from "Island of Shame" available within Pilger's first-rate program was the extremely telling on-camera interview with former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, who became visibly irritated, and questioned Pilger's motives.)

Like Pilger, Vine gets up close and personal with some of the deported Chagossians, explains the caste system at play in their new "home", and makes no bones about displaying sympathy for their plight. Likewise, he does a thorough job examining the development of the U.S. government's Strategic Island Concept, and fully chronicles the interplay between Washington and London in formulating the coverup of the handoff of Diego that persisted for decades. And the Epilogue poignantly demonstrates how geopolitical decisions, once made, can pose enduring moral tribulations for those who become cogs in the public policy machine.

Despite this book's painstaking research on a subject of moral significance, Vine's final chapter on the creation of a "Humanpolitik" descends into a broad-based polemic against military installations and American "empire", with precious little analysis of the pros and cons of the Strategic Island Concept and the use of American beach heads (although his discussion of the Bikinians is directly on-point).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Base of Shame December 6, 2012
By ollb
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The things we did, with Brit complicity, to the Chagos islanders are shameful. I knew about some of this from Simon Winchester's Outposts, but it has been grossly underreported and ignored by U.S. media. Vine spends more wordage than necessary describing the treatment of and the sufferings of the islanders. He is best when pointing out the U.S. Empire and how it relies on island bases; for this reason, especially, a very valuable book. Our base on Diego Garcia is so secretive and restricted that not much can be told - or known - about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. Easy to Read June 25, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great Book. Easy to Read . Very Insightful look at US top secret base
in the Indian Ocean .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great book about an extensive research. Not only about the specific incident - but also very illustrative of how thing happen inside military and government offices. A very interesting perspective if you want to understant how these operations and the people that run them think (or rather, don't think, just act, in fact). A little too much details about things past and consequences that no-one can do anything about anymore (chapters regarding a bit too much detail on the suffering of the islanders - about what, decades after, no one could change anymore) made me skip little bits here and there. But the insider view on militar and covert operations is most valuable and is described in a richness of detail that makes this book worth the 4-star rating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The secret of Deigo Garcia
Well .. nice book to read but it did not focus in details of the greatest Island in the Indian Ocean and the house of the strategically heavy US bombers.
Published 27 days ago by alhashim_aviation
5.0 out of 5 stars Missing MH370
I have researched the Military Base and have come to the conclusion that the missing plane MH370 is parked there in a hanger. As to the passengers, ????.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Island of Shame
I lived in mauritius 40 years ago and met people from the chagos islands and have told people about these poor people and how they had their island country stolen by UK + USA... Read more
Published 2 months ago by doubledogs69
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book for Library
Right on time and just what I wanted. Never realized how we ended up with a base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Published 3 months ago by Forrest W. Croom
5.0 out of 5 stars Diego Garcia what a lovely island
The true history of what and how the island was acquired by the British and given to the US. Now, why would the US have an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean miles from... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bill Kamer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
I enjoyed reading this book, it was very insightful and offered a different perspective on our military bases around the world. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ronald W Wyand
5.0 out of 5 stars Island of shame by David Vine
Diego Garcia. All I knew about this island was that there is a US military base.
Never heard about the cruel way the people living there were kicked out by the
US. Read more
Published on September 4, 2009 by Herbert Escher
5.0 out of 5 stars Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego...
David Vine peels back the veil of secrecy from Diego Garcia. The United States and the United Kingdom committed an ignominious act of historic immorality by forcibly removing the... Read more
Published on June 28, 2009 by Louis Wolf
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