Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

7

Hawai‘i, the Philippines, Guam—it wasn’t easy to know how to think about such places or even what to call them. At the turn of the twentieth century, when many were acquired (Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, Hawai‘i, Wake), their status was clear. They were, as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson unabashedly called them, colonies.

Yet that spirit of forthright imperialism didn’t last. Within a decade or two, after passions had cooled, the c-word became taboo. “The word colony must not be used to express the relationship which exists between our government and its dependent peoples,” an official admonished in 1914. Better to stick with a gentler term, used for them all: territories.

It was gentler because the United States had had territories before, such as Arkansas and Montana. Their place in the national firmament was a happy one. The western territories were the frontier, the leading edge of the country’s growth. They might not have had all the rights that states did, but once they were “settled” (i.e., populated by whites), they were welcomed fully into the fold as states.

But if places like the Philippines and Puerto Rico were territories, they were territories of a different sort. Unlike the western territories, they weren’t obviously slated for statehood. Nor were they widely understood to be integral parts of the nation.

—p.7 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

Hawai‘i, the Philippines, Guam—it wasn’t easy to know how to think about such places or even what to call them. At the turn of the twentieth century, when many were acquired (Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, Hawai‘i, Wake), their status was clear. They were, as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson unabashedly called them, colonies.

Yet that spirit of forthright imperialism didn’t last. Within a decade or two, after passions had cooled, the c-word became taboo. “The word colony must not be used to express the relationship which exists between our government and its dependent peoples,” an official admonished in 1914. Better to stick with a gentler term, used for them all: territories.

It was gentler because the United States had had territories before, such as Arkansas and Montana. Their place in the national firmament was a happy one. The western territories were the frontier, the leading edge of the country’s growth. They might not have had all the rights that states did, but once they were “settled” (i.e., populated by whites), they were welcomed fully into the fold as states.

But if places like the Philippines and Puerto Rico were territories, they were territories of a different sort. Unlike the western territories, they weren’t obviously slated for statehood. Nor were they widely understood to be integral parts of the nation.

—p.7 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
18

[...] One of the truly distinctive features of the United States’ empire is how persistently ignored it has been. Apart from the brief moment after 1898 when the country’s imperial dimensions were on proud display, much of its history has taken place offstage.

This is, it’s worth emphasizing, unique. The British weren’t confused as to whether there was a British Empire. They had a holiday, Empire Day, to celebrate it. France didn’t forget that Algeria was French. It is only the United States that has suffered from chronic confusion about its own borders.

The reason isn’t hard to guess. The country perceives itself to be a republic, not an empire. It was born in an anti-imperialist revolt and has fought empires ever since, from Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich and the Japanese Empire to the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union. It even fights empires in its dreams. Star Wars, a saga that started with a rebellion against the Galactic Empire, is one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time.

—p.18 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

[...] One of the truly distinctive features of the United States’ empire is how persistently ignored it has been. Apart from the brief moment after 1898 when the country’s imperial dimensions were on proud display, much of its history has taken place offstage.

This is, it’s worth emphasizing, unique. The British weren’t confused as to whether there was a British Empire. They had a holiday, Empire Day, to celebrate it. France didn’t forget that Algeria was French. It is only the United States that has suffered from chronic confusion about its own borders.

The reason isn’t hard to guess. The country perceives itself to be a republic, not an empire. It was born in an anti-imperialist revolt and has fought empires ever since, from Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich and the Japanese Empire to the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union. It even fights empires in its dreams. Star Wars, a saga that started with a rebellion against the Galactic Empire, is one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time.

—p.18 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
53

[...] guano accumulated only in extremely dry climates, oceanic deserts where the lack of rainfall allowed bird droppings to collect for centuries. Such islands were barren rocks, not fertile plains—unpromising sites for human habitation.

Still, the guano didn’t hop onto the ships by itself. Guano mining—tunneling, picking, and blasting the stuff loose and hauling it to waiting ships—was arguably the single worst job you could have in the nineteenth century. It offered all the backbreaking labor and lung damage of coal mining, but to do the job, you had to be marooned on a hot, dry, pestilential, and foul-smelling island for months. Respiratory diseases, causing workers to pass out or cough up blood, were common. So were gastrointestinal ailments—the unsurprising consequence of crowded conditions, rotten food, and a dearth of fresh water. Clouds of shrieking seabirds darkened the skies overhead, unleashing the occasional fecal rainstorm (“We were completely encased in a thick film of bird manure,” one visitor remembered). On Howland Island, an out-of-control rat population scurried underfoot, adding yet another vile ingredient to the epidemiological stew.

Finding workers wasn’t easy. Peruvian guano lords, unable to recruit their compatriots, relied mainly on Chinese laborers, whom they lured onto eastbound ships with false promises or sometimes simply kidnapped—between 1847 and 1874, at least sixty-eight of these ships mutinied. U.S. guano speculators gathered their workforce principally from Hawai‘i, where, it was felt, the workers (called “Kanakas”) would have some affinity for the landscape. [...]

—p.53 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

[...] guano accumulated only in extremely dry climates, oceanic deserts where the lack of rainfall allowed bird droppings to collect for centuries. Such islands were barren rocks, not fertile plains—unpromising sites for human habitation.

Still, the guano didn’t hop onto the ships by itself. Guano mining—tunneling, picking, and blasting the stuff loose and hauling it to waiting ships—was arguably the single worst job you could have in the nineteenth century. It offered all the backbreaking labor and lung damage of coal mining, but to do the job, you had to be marooned on a hot, dry, pestilential, and foul-smelling island for months. Respiratory diseases, causing workers to pass out or cough up blood, were common. So were gastrointestinal ailments—the unsurprising consequence of crowded conditions, rotten food, and a dearth of fresh water. Clouds of shrieking seabirds darkened the skies overhead, unleashing the occasional fecal rainstorm (“We were completely encased in a thick film of bird manure,” one visitor remembered). On Howland Island, an out-of-control rat population scurried underfoot, adding yet another vile ingredient to the epidemiological stew.

Finding workers wasn’t easy. Peruvian guano lords, unable to recruit their compatriots, relied mainly on Chinese laborers, whom they lured onto eastbound ships with false promises or sometimes simply kidnapped—between 1847 and 1874, at least sixty-eight of these ships mutinied. U.S. guano speculators gathered their workforce principally from Hawai‘i, where, it was felt, the workers (called “Kanakas”) would have some affinity for the landscape. [...]

—p.53 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
54

For workers, the Navassa Phosphate Company used African Americans from Baltimore. Promising a tropical life of picking fruit and romancing beautiful women, the company induced the often-illiterate workers to sign long contracts and step on board.

Yet once the workers disembarked, they found conditions considerably less idyllic. The scorched, jagged, sea-battered island had neither fruit nor women. Instead, it offered a scurvy-inducing diet of hardtack and salted pork, along with the company of abusive white overseers. Such necessities as shirts, shoes, mattresses, and pillows could be got only from the company store at wildly inflated prices. Workers who fell ill were fined. Those who made trouble were “triced”: tied up for hours in the hot sun with their arms in the air and their feet barely touching the ground.

this triggered a legal ruling - some workers were arrested for having incited a riot that led to the death of white officers. it was a weird case because it was unclear if the US had jurisdiction over to these islands (the guano islands act said they 'appertained' to the united states - but what does that mean?) ultimately, president benjamin harrison commuted the workers' death sentence after sending people to investigate the conditions

—p.54 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

For workers, the Navassa Phosphate Company used African Americans from Baltimore. Promising a tropical life of picking fruit and romancing beautiful women, the company induced the often-illiterate workers to sign long contracts and step on board.

Yet once the workers disembarked, they found conditions considerably less idyllic. The scorched, jagged, sea-battered island had neither fruit nor women. Instead, it offered a scurvy-inducing diet of hardtack and salted pork, along with the company of abusive white overseers. Such necessities as shirts, shoes, mattresses, and pillows could be got only from the company store at wildly inflated prices. Workers who fell ill were fined. Those who made trouble were “triced”: tied up for hours in the hot sun with their arms in the air and their feet barely touching the ground.

this triggered a legal ruling - some workers were arrested for having incited a riot that led to the death of white officers. it was a weird case because it was unclear if the US had jurisdiction over to these islands (the guano islands act said they 'appertained' to the united states - but what does that mean?) ultimately, president benjamin harrison commuted the workers' death sentence after sending people to investigate the conditions

—p.54 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
175

Life in a war zone was a life shaped by precaution. It meant carrying around a gas mask when out (the University of Hawaii graduates processed in cap and gown and gas mask). It meant obeying strict curfews. It meant “blackouts”: extinguishing all light by which Japanese planes might navigate at night.

But the safeguards weren’t only against invaders. The military also insisted on extraordinary precautions against the people of Hawai‘i themselves. Hawai‘i was “enemy country,” as the secretary of the navy saw it, with a suspect population, more than one-third of which was of Japanese ancestry. Thus were the territory’s residents registered, fingerprinted, and vaccinated—the first mass fingerprinting and the largest compulsory vaccination campaign the United States had ever undertaken. They were required to carry identification cards at all times on pain of arrest. [...]

what a concept

—p.175 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

Life in a war zone was a life shaped by precaution. It meant carrying around a gas mask when out (the University of Hawaii graduates processed in cap and gown and gas mask). It meant obeying strict curfews. It meant “blackouts”: extinguishing all light by which Japanese planes might navigate at night.

But the safeguards weren’t only against invaders. The military also insisted on extraordinary precautions against the people of Hawai‘i themselves. Hawai‘i was “enemy country,” as the secretary of the navy saw it, with a suspect population, more than one-third of which was of Japanese ancestry. Thus were the territory’s residents registered, fingerprinted, and vaccinated—the first mass fingerprinting and the largest compulsory vaccination campaign the United States had ever undertaken. They were required to carry identification cards at all times on pain of arrest. [...]

what a concept

—p.175 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
183

But the government asked more of them than bond purchases. In Alaska, Gruening, concerned about a Japanese invasion (this was a month before Japan attacked the Aleutians), set out to organize the Alaska Territorial Guard. It was to be a militia, armed citizens prepared to fend off invaders. As Gruening needed the guard to extend up the whole coast, this meant enrolling indigenous people.

“Up until then,” Gruening remembers, “I had had very little contact with the Eskimos.” He wondered how they might react to the prospect of joining the military. Alaska Natives endured a harsh Jim Crow system: separate seating in theaters, segregated schools, and NO NATIVES ALLOWED signs on hotels and restaurants. Gruening confessed that he “did not know what resentment might lurk behind their smiling faces.” Nor did the mainland soldiers, who worried that Alaska Natives, if armed, might turn their guns against the army.

wtf?

—p.183 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

But the government asked more of them than bond purchases. In Alaska, Gruening, concerned about a Japanese invasion (this was a month before Japan attacked the Aleutians), set out to organize the Alaska Territorial Guard. It was to be a militia, armed citizens prepared to fend off invaders. As Gruening needed the guard to extend up the whole coast, this meant enrolling indigenous people.

“Up until then,” Gruening remembers, “I had had very little contact with the Eskimos.” He wondered how they might react to the prospect of joining the military. Alaska Natives endured a harsh Jim Crow system: separate seating in theaters, segregated schools, and NO NATIVES ALLOWED signs on hotels and restaurants. Gruening confessed that he “did not know what resentment might lurk behind their smiling faces.” Nor did the mainland soldiers, who worried that Alaska Natives, if armed, might turn their guns against the army.

wtf?

—p.183 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
191

Yet only a trickle arrived, and as the weeks dragged on, hope turned to rage. It was a feeling that Japanese propagandists seized upon. They dropped leaflets on the starving troops, targeting the Filipinos. “Our fight is not with you but with America,” one said. “Surrender, and we will treat you like brothers.” The Japanese promised the Philippines independence. They dropped menus from the Manila Hotel, which had the compound effect of redoubling Filipinos’ hunger pangs and reminding them of the whites-only high life that mainlanders had enjoyed.

on america promising relief to the philippines but reneging on that

—p.191 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

Yet only a trickle arrived, and as the weeks dragged on, hope turned to rage. It was a feeling that Japanese propagandists seized upon. They dropped leaflets on the starving troops, targeting the Filipinos. “Our fight is not with you but with America,” one said. “Surrender, and we will treat you like brothers.” The Japanese promised the Philippines independence. They dropped menus from the Manila Hotel, which had the compound effect of redoubling Filipinos’ hunger pangs and reminding them of the whites-only high life that mainlanders had enjoyed.

on america promising relief to the philippines but reneging on that

—p.191 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
193

In March, Roosevelt ordered MacArthur, Quezon, and other top-ranking officials out of the Philippines. The colony was being abandoned.

First, though, the Corregidor headquarters would have to be scuttled. The gold was sneaked out, at night, to a waiting submarine, which took it to San Francisco. The paper currency was incinerated to keep it out of Japanese hands. (“Guess what I learned after burning ten million dollars?” one officer said. “That Jackson twenties burn faster than Lincoln fives.”) The 150 tons of silver pesos, too bulky to move, were dumped into a secret spot in Manila Bay—a tantalizing challenge for future treasure hunters.

Quezon gave Douglas MacArthur half a million dollars from the Philippine treasury—a reward for services rendered. MacArthur, as an officer in the U.S. military, was forbidden to accept it, but he did anyway. Quezon and MacArthur set off for Australia, with Romulo trailing after them.

“I shall return,” MacArthur promised.

The troops on Bataan, though, went nowhere. The song they sang captured their plight vividly:

We’re the battling bastards of Bataan:
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces,
No rifles, no guns or artillery pieces,
And nobody gives a damn.

the contrapuntal story to cryptonomicon lol

—p.193 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

In March, Roosevelt ordered MacArthur, Quezon, and other top-ranking officials out of the Philippines. The colony was being abandoned.

First, though, the Corregidor headquarters would have to be scuttled. The gold was sneaked out, at night, to a waiting submarine, which took it to San Francisco. The paper currency was incinerated to keep it out of Japanese hands. (“Guess what I learned after burning ten million dollars?” one officer said. “That Jackson twenties burn faster than Lincoln fives.”) The 150 tons of silver pesos, too bulky to move, were dumped into a secret spot in Manila Bay—a tantalizing challenge for future treasure hunters.

Quezon gave Douglas MacArthur half a million dollars from the Philippine treasury—a reward for services rendered. MacArthur, as an officer in the U.S. military, was forbidden to accept it, but he did anyway. Quezon and MacArthur set off for Australia, with Romulo trailing after them.

“I shall return,” MacArthur promised.

The troops on Bataan, though, went nowhere. The song they sang captured their plight vividly:

We’re the battling bastards of Bataan:
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces,
No rifles, no guns or artillery pieces,
And nobody gives a damn.

the contrapuntal story to cryptonomicon lol

—p.193 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
196

Japan latched on to the bitterness of the colonized. Japanese propagandists reminded Filipinos of the United States’ long history of empire, starting with the dispossession of North American Indians and moving through the Mexican War, the annexation of Spain’s colonies, and the Philippine War, right up to the scorched-earth policy adopted in the face of the Japanese invasion. “America has wasted your funds in the creation of grand boulevards and exclusive mountain resorts,” one Japanese writer added, gleefully rubbing salt into the wounds inflicted in the era of Daniel Burnham.

Japan had something different to offer: “Asia for the Asiatics.” That slogan may sound banal today, but for a region long colonized, it was a powerful, revolutionary idea. Even Romulo conceded that it was “morally unassailable.”

Yet white powers would never allow Asian independence, the Japanese insisted. It had to be seized. Emperor Hirohito claimed that the war’s origins lay “in the past, in the peace treaty after World War I,” when Woodrow Wilson had blocked Japan’s attempt to introduce racial equality into the League of Nations covenant. With the most idealistic of the Allies unwilling to concede even the principle that all races deserved the same consideration, what were the chances that Asians would ever be accepted as equals?

—p.196 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

Japan latched on to the bitterness of the colonized. Japanese propagandists reminded Filipinos of the United States’ long history of empire, starting with the dispossession of North American Indians and moving through the Mexican War, the annexation of Spain’s colonies, and the Philippine War, right up to the scorched-earth policy adopted in the face of the Japanese invasion. “America has wasted your funds in the creation of grand boulevards and exclusive mountain resorts,” one Japanese writer added, gleefully rubbing salt into the wounds inflicted in the era of Daniel Burnham.

Japan had something different to offer: “Asia for the Asiatics.” That slogan may sound banal today, but for a region long colonized, it was a powerful, revolutionary idea. Even Romulo conceded that it was “morally unassailable.”

Yet white powers would never allow Asian independence, the Japanese insisted. It had to be seized. Emperor Hirohito claimed that the war’s origins lay “in the past, in the peace treaty after World War I,” when Woodrow Wilson had blocked Japan’s attempt to introduce racial equality into the League of Nations covenant. With the most idealistic of the Allies unwilling to concede even the principle that all races deserved the same consideration, what were the chances that Asians would ever be accepted as equals?

—p.196 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago
207

The 37th handled most of the combat in Manila. On February 9, six days into the battle, it saw nineteen of its men killed and more than two hundred wounded. That was nothing compared with the thousands of Filipinos who were being daily slaughtered, but to Beightler it was “alarming.” The division reverted to its tried-and-true tactic. Rather than engage Iwabuchi’s men in direct combat, it would simply destroy any buildings in which they might be hiding. “Putting it crudely, we really went to town,” Beightler reported. “To me, the loss of a single American life to save a building was unthinkable.”

That’s a sentence worth reading twice. In Beightler’s mind, he was facing a trade-off—and not a particularly difficult one—between lives and architecture. But, as he well knew, those buildings were inhabited. Some by enemy soldiers, of course, but many by civilians. Those civilians were “Americans,” too, even if no one treated them that way.

—p.207 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago

The 37th handled most of the combat in Manila. On February 9, six days into the battle, it saw nineteen of its men killed and more than two hundred wounded. That was nothing compared with the thousands of Filipinos who were being daily slaughtered, but to Beightler it was “alarming.” The division reverted to its tried-and-true tactic. Rather than engage Iwabuchi’s men in direct combat, it would simply destroy any buildings in which they might be hiding. “Putting it crudely, we really went to town,” Beightler reported. “To me, the loss of a single American life to save a building was unthinkable.”

That’s a sentence worth reading twice. In Beightler’s mind, he was facing a trade-off—and not a particularly difficult one—between lives and architecture. But, as he well knew, those buildings were inhabited. Some by enemy soldiers, of course, but many by civilians. Those civilians were “Americans,” too, even if no one treated them that way.

—p.207 by Daniel Immerwahr 3 years, 7 months ago