A historical compendium proves that many countries had a shot at the land that became the United States, but circumstances instead resulted in a new nation.
For their latest volume, Kelly and Laycock (America Invades, 2015, etc.) turn their series concept on its head. Instead of detailing how a particular country invades other nations, it summarizes how various countries invaded the United States. And the work re-emphasizes how the U.S.’s many vanquishers pushed its only true inhabitants, the Native Americans, off their lands and onto fixed reservations. As Kelly writes in the introduction: “These invasions have, for good or ill, reshaped” America and “in many ways defined her.” The authors take the reader alphabetically through the 50 states and Washington, D.C., covering skirmishes, great and small, that took place within each. The exhaustive research shows how the governance—and the borders—of each state was exceptionally fluid, as conquerors came and went, often because of military action elsewhere, either in North America or around the globe. Drawing from hundreds of years and thousands of battles, the two succeed in being extremely thorough rather than all-encompassing. Yet they manage to keep their book an airy read. That’s because, as always, Kelly and Laycock are masters of the fascinating factoid, information that’s tangential to their overall thesis yet exceptionally worthwhile: “The training of African-American airmen at Tuskegee is also a noteworthy feature of Alabama’s war effort during World War II. In March of 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was a passenger in a plane flown by an African-American pilot over Alabama.” Because both authors are history buffs, Kelly acknowledges that this volume was almost inevitable: “America Invaded was in many ways inspired by my personal journal of discovery of American military history. In 2014, I drove through 36 states on my book tour for America Invades.” The work contains a treasure trove of maps, photos, and Web addresses that allows amateur historians to undertake their own research. All told, this is a worthwhile addition to the authors’ invasion series. The only question remaining is, after covering Britain, Italy, and America (twice), which nation will pique their curiosity next?
A captivating look at how America’s 50 states survived on the way to becoming a nation.