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)
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"[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