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Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies) Paperback – October 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0299234140 ISBN-10: 0299234142 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299234142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299234140
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This remarkable study provides a meticulous analysis of the novel colonial system developed by the U.S. in the Philippines after the murderous conquest, with startling implications for the shape of the modern world. As McCoy demonstrates, the U.S. occupation developed a major innovation in imperial practice, relying on the ‘information revolution’ of the day to establish intense surveillance and control of the occupied population, along with violence when needed and privileges to obedient elites. This ‘protracted social experiment in the use of police as an instrument of state power’ left a devastating legacy for the Philippines, while also contributing substantially to the modes of suppression of independence and social change elsewhere, and returning home to lay the foundations for a national security and surveillance state.”—Noam Chomsky, MIT


“A stunning, exemplary, and hair-raising fusion of colonial and metropolitan histories. McCoy shows how the Philippines served as a laboratory subject for experiments in policing, intelligence, surveillance, and ‘black-operations’ that were then repatriated to shape the American domestic surveillance state from World War I forward. This is history at its most powerful and most subversive of imperial self-hypnosis. The term magnum opus applies both to its ambition and its comprehensiveness.”—James C. Scott, Yale University  


“In this stunning book, McCoy reveals how empire shapes the intertwined destinies of all involved in its creation. Written with deft strokes, this is an instant classic of historical writing.”—Lloyd Gardner, Rutgers University


“Alfred McCoy has written the most thorough account of America relations with the Philippines that the reader is likely to come across.  It’s a history with meticulous detail, the product of an academic career that’s concentrated on the torturous story of the connections between the US and Southeast Asia.”—Peace Researcher



“[S]hows how the dark underworld of crime, subversion, vice and drugs in the Philippines has been linked to the bright, public world of politics. The link? The police and security forces, particularly their shadowy side: spies, undercover agents, specialists in covert operations, assassins. The currency passed up and down the system? Information, particularly incriminating information, scandal, graft, murder.”—John J. Carroll, Philippine Daily Inquirer



“McCoy’s monograph will be the starting point for any future historical study of control and dissent in the Philippines. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”—Choice



“An eye-opener of a book, this should be must reading for concerned Filipinos, not only to be able to understand their own police forces—and criminal world, as well as their politicians—better, but also to see deeper into the United States design and policies.”— Ricardo Trota Jose, Philippine Studies



“Provocative. . . . raise(s) important issues regarding the impact of empire, as home as well as abroad, a dialectic of ill effects wrought by an imperial system bottom lined by domination and coercion, force and violence.”—Allen Ruff, Against the Current

About the Author

Alfred W. McCoy is J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His books include The Politics of Heroin and A Question of Torture.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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An all round interesting read.
reader
The book is focused on the critical position of policing in Philippines society, as conveyed in the title.
Matt
This book gives a fair detailed analysis which i felt was well researched and thought provoking.
marshallzz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mark Straka on June 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
[Disclaimer: I haven't finished reading it yet; thus a streamlined review] A well-reasoned, well-researched, and well-written work that is destined to become a foundation stone in the study of the development (or metamorphosis) of the American nation since the invasion of the Philippines in 1898. The work is formidable and highly enlightening for both academics and for all those who have struggled to understand the stark discrepancy between the mythical America as imagined by citizens indoctrinated with the ideologies of Jefferson, Lincoln, and the contemporary ideologues on the one hand, and the America as manifest in its heavily armed and brutal police forces, its global military, its advanced and ever-advancing weaponry, its global surveillance network, and its CIA.

Strongly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matt on May 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a terrific book. McCoy manages to merge rigorous historical research, insightful analysis, comprehensive summaries and overviews, and good story-telling in this master study of the modern Philippines.

The book is focused on the critical position of policing in Philippines society, as conveyed in the title. In the first chapter, McCoy discusses and justifies a focus on policing: he discusses the often overlooked but still important matters of policing and scandal in any general society, why policing (and scandal) maintains an uncharacteristically central role in Filipino society, and how the Filipino history is also crucial for an understanding of US history - in summary: empire affects both the colony and the imperial country.

When recounting a historical event, McCoy tells the story in an entertaining yet neutral manner. Perhaps, since truth is stranger than friction, he is aided by the sheer absurdity often inherent in scandals and instances of blackmailing, bribery, and general corruption; but nevertheless I found many parts of the book to be quite amusing. Another great aspect of this book if the "Conclusion" section at the end of each chapter: as this subsection title suggests, McCoy concludes each chapter by giving a rough summary of the history covered in that chapter, and he describes how and why these events connect to the larger themes mentioned above - policing, government legitimacy, and the consequences of imperial conquest.

Again, McCoy does a particularly excellent job of making connections between specific historical events (often police scandals), and larger historical and political questions. In particular, in Chapter 9, McCoy breaks from the Philippines temporarily to discuss policing in the US in the period of approximately 1905 - 1975.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By KC on July 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
This was so compelling I could not put it down. I have recommended it to all my students. After reading this I have further insight into the US democratization and colonialization of the Phillippines. The modern day parallels between the Phillippines and our current wars are striking and McCoys book helps contextualize this.
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Format: Paperback
McCoy's book is history based on fact, not "history based on patriotism". For the latter, one will find many, many political tracts masquerading as "books" (John Phillip Souza marches to be played in the background as one reads the latter must be purchased separately, however). For the latter purpose, perhaps some high school "history" books from the 1950s are still available ?

McCoy's analogies to the current use of surveillance techniques are eye-opening, as well; but his history (here) is solid as a stand-alone. As usual, those who prefer patriotism to facts will not like this book or any fact-based history book at all.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By reader on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Wow! Im was very impressed with this. An all round interesting read. Some of McCoys best work yet!
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By Ford Ballantyne III on August 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No easy job to police 700++ military bases off U.S. soil
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