Feb. 10th, 2017

osprey_archer: (books)
Doug Mack's The Not-Quite States of America has an excellent premise and a so-so execution. The book is an exploration of America's inhabited offshore territories - American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam - which are not states, not in any clear sense on the road to statehood, and not exactly subject to the US Constitution, although it's also not clear which parts apply and which don't.

I, like most Americans (as Mack points out), knew very little about the territories before I read this book - I'm not sure I even knew that Guam was a territory, in fact - and in that sense it's a useful book, and a fun, breezy read as well.

But it feels more surface-y than I would like. Mack visited all the territories as he was writing it, but for only a few weeks each, so it ends up having a touristy sort of feel, which is only heightened by the fact that Mack doesn't seem to have done a whole lot of book research, either. I really think this book might have been better served with an author who had lived in at least one of the territories for a while.

I also think - and this is not the book's fault at all - that this book is going to suffer from an unfortunately timed release date. Under other circumstances, people might be very interested in the question of whether the Constitution ought to apply to the US Territories, but as it is I don't think many readers will get worked up about it. Most of us are too busy worrying about whether the Constitution will continue to apply within the continental US itself.


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