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Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (January 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691149836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691149837
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[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."--Jonathan Freedland, New York Review of Books



"This angry and angering book is well researched, compelling, and valuable to understanding and emerging US 'empire.'"--
Choice



"For Vine imperialism, military prerogative and racism have all combined to deny a people a home simply because they were in the way. His succinct style and controlled outrage make for a damning indictment."--Phil Chamberlain, Tribune



"Island of Shame is not just a gut-wrenching account of how a tropical paradise of powder-white beaches and palm fronds was turned into a massive launch pad for America's military expansionist programme. A large chunk of the book is devoted to how the Chagossians came to build their complex but happy society in the islands and the resulting tragedy of their displacement. Above all, Vine is a top flight researcher. . . . We owe Vine a great debt for shining his light on this island of horrors."--Latha Jishnu, Business Standard



"David Vine's story of the Chagossians is an exemplary piece of both socially embedded reportage and investigative journalism, despite a tendency to indulge in the self-conscious idiom of academic ethnography and reflexive criticism of US 'imperialism.' At heart, however, he speaks truth to power. Power, though, is not listening."--Colin Murphy, Irish Times



"David Vine . . . has rendered high service by writing a thoroughly documented expose of the crime, which the world has ignored because one of its perpetrators is a superpower, the U.S., and its accomplice, the U.K."--A. G. Noorani, Frontline



"Vine's important and timely book sheds welcome light on this dark chapter of U.S. military history, questioning the way our military operates and its impact on civilian populations."--Katherine McCaffrey, American Anthropologist

From the Back Cover


"Until I read this book, why had I heard almost nothing about the Chagossians? Their forced relocation from Diego Garcia is a disgraceful violation of human rights that should be far better known. I hope that David Vine's painstakingly researched account is widely read, and that it makes its readers furious."--Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down


"The sorry tale of Diego Garcia--a saga of duplicity and collusion involving countries and politicians who should have known better--is impeccably and thrillingly told by David Vine, in a book that should be required reading for defense and human-rights officials in the new American administration. Vine can be justly proud of his tireless efforts to bring justice to a forgotten corner of the tropical world."--Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman


"Island of Shame illuminates the interior workings of the American empire as it penetrated and shattered the lives of the people of the tiny island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. David Vine turns his anthropological lenses not only on the victims, the people who were expelled to make room for a military base, but on the perpetrators as well, the American officials who oversaw the tragedy."--Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority


"This is a very good, original book on an important and intellectually challenging subject--the ruthlessness and hypocrisy of the American government in its forced expulsion of an indigenous people in order to build the supersecret military base at Diego Garcia. Vine has done a brilliant job of reconstructing the history of Diego Garcia and America's interest in it."--Chalmers Johnson, author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republicv1 "The story of the U.S. base on Diego Garcia, and the cruel displacement of the island's people, has long been hidden from the American public. We owe a debt to David Vine for revealing it to the larger public."--Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States


"Provocative. This book is the first significant look at how the Chagossians' fate has been tied to the needs of empire. Vine convincingly connects the U.S. military's relocation of the Chagossians with a larger historic program of military imperialism and prolonged efforts to establish strategic bases in key geographical locations around the globe. This is a story that will find a wide audience."--David H. Price, author of Threatening Anthropology



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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Magnus Johnson on October 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Neil Cotiaux on 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 By Mr. Peter M. Sullivan Aca on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ollb on December 6, 2012
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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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Joanne L. Vine on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book, Island of Shame is a compelling and authoritative account of a shameful episode in our country's history. Based on thorough and well-documented research, Vine presents an exquisitely moving and balanced portrait of the secretive and systematic steps taken by the U.S. and U.K. governments to make way for the Diego Garcia military base on the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Vine recounts the forcible expulsion of the Chagossians who lived there and their removal 1,200 miles away to Mauritius and The Seychelles where they continue to live in abject poverty. Their plight and their struggle to return to Chagos deserve the searing and riveting attention David Vine's book has given them.
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