“To truly understand the United States, one must understand The Not-Quite States of America.” —Mark Stein, best-selling author of How the States Got Their Shapes
Everyone knows that America is 50 states and… some other stuff. The U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—and their 4 million people are little known and often forgotten, so Doug Mack set out on a 30,000-mile journey to learn about them. How did they come to be part of the United States? What are they like today? And why aren’t they states? Deeply researched and richly reported, The Not-Quite States of America is an entertaining and unprecedented account of the territories’ crucial yet overlooked place in the American story.
A thoughtful blend of history, insight, and first-person experiences colors this travelogue focused on some of the most overlooked parts of America, the United States territories. Travel writer Mack (Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day) sets out to learn more about these distant neighbors and shares his insights in this entertaining, informative study. He explores each territory with an open mind and an open notebook, hanging out with beer-drinking pigs in Saint Croix and strolling through the world's largest Kmart in Samoa. He also recounts more than a few sobering experiences, such as visiting Samoa's Suicide Cliff, where thousands of Japanese civilians and troops leapt to their death to avoid capture by American troops. Mack's thoughtful assessment of American colonialism, underlined by the question of which cultural aspects of each territory should be retained and which should be assimilated into broader American culture, is the spine of the book. Rather than taking an authoritative approach, Mack lets the residents do just as much of the talking and analyzing, making for a strong book sure to spark thought and inspire further research.