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Guantánamo: An American History Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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“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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Hansen points out that Castro was not showing communist leanings at this time. That opens an interesting speculation of what might have been had the U.S. removed its support from Fulgencio Batista, Cuba’s President, and fostered an alliance with Castro. Perhaps the author will cover this aspect more thoroughly in his upcoming book on Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution.
The book’s excellent base map and a visit to the Gitmo area via Google Earth helped refresh my recollection of our SeaBee camp location, layout of the base, various work sites involving our battalion, and as an aid in referencing locations the author discusses. Unfortunately, the dark cloud of the contentious detainee situation flavors the concluding chapters.
I highly recommend Guantanamo: An American History to those with an interest in American history and to those who had a personal involvement through military service there. My only regret is the book’s material up to the mid-1950s was not available during my own time at Gitmo.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This we-researched and written book opened my eyes to the unbiased history of a place most Americans know so little about. I was very engaged all the way through. Read morePublished 2 months ago by fritzarnold
Lots of facts about how the US has a location on the island of Cuba.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was stationed at Guantanamo Bay between 1978 and 1980. I was expecting this book to be a stroll down memory lane. It is not. Mr. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Robert P. Cassidy
Jonathan Hansen's pen is interesting, provoking, entertaining, and above all informative. We discover that, before the existence of the prison, with which we have come to associate... Read morePublished on June 28, 2014 by Eleni Kaxiras
This is less about Guantanamo today than it is about how we got there. In that regard it is thorough and detailed but alas, does not paint a very pretty picture of US foreign... Read morePublished on August 9, 2013 by Katherine J. Kramer
I was surprised to see this book, but glad someone has tried to put together the history and development of this U.S. Naval base in Cuba. Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by Tom Betz
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... Read morePublished on November 1, 2012 by John Straubel