The United States of War
A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State
by David Vine
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Pub Date 13 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 16 Jul 2021
A provocative examination of how the U.S. military has shaped our entire world, from today’s costly, endless wars to the prominence of violence in everyday American life.
The United States has been fighting wars constantly since invading Afghanistan in 2001. This nonstop warfare is far less exceptional than it might seem: the United States has been at war or has invaded other countries almost every year since independence. In The United States of War, David Vine traces this pattern of bloody conflict from Columbus's 1494 arrival in Guantanamo Bay through the 250-year expansion of a global U.S. empire. Drawing on historical and firsthand anthropological research in fourteen countries and territories, The United States of War demonstrates how U.S. leaders across generations have locked the United States in a self-perpetuating system of permanent war by constructing the world’s largest-ever collection of foreign military bases—a global matrix that has made offensive interventionist wars more likely. Beyond exposing the profit-making desires, political interests, racism, and toxic masculinity underlying the country’s relationship to war and empire, The United States of War shows how the long history of U.S. military expansion shapes our daily lives, from today’s multi-trillion–dollar wars to the pervasiveness of violence and militarism in everyday U.S. life. The book concludes by confronting the catastrophic toll of American wars—which have left millions dead, wounded, and displaced—while offering proposals for how we can end the fighting.
"David Vine’s The United States of War puts a much needed pin to the balloon of American exceptionalism. An invaluable guide to a country that, long before Orwell came along, said war was peace–and interventionism was the highest form of anti-colonialism. The United States of War is especially important now, as we try to make sense of a presidential administration that, in the name of so-called 'isolationism,' has left a trail of global destruction in its wake."—Greg Grandin, Professor of History, Yale University
"Along with this book being a model of excellent scholarship, Vine is a gifted writer. Reading the text is akin to reading the very best of essay writing and will make the text accessible to academic and non-academic readers, as well as to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States