The Not-Quite States of America:
Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA
This event includes a book signing
August 2, 2017
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome travel writer DOUG MACK, author of Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day, for a discussion of his latest book, The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA.
About The Not-Quite States of America
Everyone knows that America is 50 states and . . . some other stuff. Scattered shards in the Pacific and the Caribbean, the not-quite states—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—and their 4 million people are often forgotten, even by most Americans. But they’re filled with American flags, U.S. post offices, and Little League baseball games. How did these territories come to be part of the United States? What are they like? And why aren’t they states?
When Doug Mack realized just how little he knew about the territories, he set off on a globe-hopping quest covering more than 30,000 miles to see them all. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Mack examines the Founding Fathers’ arguments over expansion. He explores Polynesia’s outsize influence on American culture, from tiki bars to tattoos, in American Samoa. He tours Guam with members of a military veterans’ motorcycle club, who offer personal stories about the territory’s role in World War II and its present-day importance for the American military. In the Northern Mariana Islands, he learns about star-guided seafaring from one of the ancient tradition’s last practitioners. And everywhere he goes in Puerto Rico, he listens in on the lively debate over political status—independence, statehood, or the status quo.
The Not-Quite States of America is an entertaining account of the territories’ place in the USA, and it raises fascinating questions about the nature of empire. As Mack shows, the territories aren’t mere footnotes to American history; they are a crucial part of the story.
"A thoughtful assessment of American colonialism. . . . [Mack] explores each territory with an open mind and an open notebook." —Publishers Weekly
"Our fellow Americans living in territories may not have senators or members of Congress to represent them. But they do have Doug Mack’s terrific book to reintroduce us to their unique histories and cultures and to point out just how connected we all really are to the people in these seemingly far-flung places. A fun and fascinating adventure." —Brady Carlson, author of Dead Presidents
"Doug Mack, a connoisseur of the offbeat, turns his keen eye to the USA’s forgotten lands, and the result is the Great American Road Trip with a twist. Funny and engaging, Mack is the perfect guide to these simultaneously strange and familiar places, and the book goes to the heart of a perennial and, these days, urgent question: What does it mean to be American?" —Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Genius
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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