The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the little-known base has been instrumental in American military operations from the Cold War to the war on terror and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured. But Diego Garcia harbors another dirty secret, one that has been kept from most of the world--until now.
Island of Shame is the first major book to reveal the shocking truth of how the United States conspired with Britain to forcibly expel Diego Garcia's indigenous people--the Chagossians--and deport them to slums in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where most live in dire poverty to this day. Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders, military strategists, and exiled islanders, as well as hundreds of declassified documents, David Vine exposes the secret history of Diego Garcia. He chronicles the Chagossians' dramatic, unfolding story as they struggle to survive in exile and fight to return to their homeland. Tracing U.S. foreign policy from the Cold War to the war on terror, Vine shows how the United States has forged a new and pervasive kind of empire that is quietly dominating the planet with hundreds of overseas military bases.
Island of Shame is an unforgettable exposé of the human costs of empire and a must-read for anyone concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its consequences. The author will donate all royalties from the sale of this book to the Chagossians.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
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.