How to Hide an Empire

A History of the Greater United States

Paperback, 528 pages

Published March 3, 2020 by Picador.

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5 stars (1 review)

We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories―the islands, atolls, and archipelagos―this country has governed and inhabited?

In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story of the United States outside the United States. In crackling, fast-paced prose, he reveals forgotten episodes that cast American history in a new light. We travel to the Guano Islands, where prospectors collected one of the nineteenth century’s most valuable commodities, and the Philippines, site of the most destructive event on U.S. soil. In Puerto Rico, Immerwahr shows how U.S. doctors conducted grisly experiments they would never have conducted on the mainland and charts the emergence of independence fighters who would shoot up the U.S. Congress.

In the years after World War II, …

7 editions

Great lessons in US history

5 stars

I wanted to hate this book. I really felt like it was going to be preachy and single noted. In the end it overpowered me with excellent story telling, a very powerful grasp of history and very evenly stated rationality. It definitely has a perspective, but it is not trying to convince you as much as state the facts and allow you to decide. I ended up really liking this one despite myself.


  • United States
  • Territorial expansion