Island of Shame

The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia

by David Vine

The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured. But Diego Garcia harbors another dirty secret, one that has been kept from most of the world--until now.

Island of Shame is the first major book to reveal the shocking truth of how the United States conspired with Britain to forcibly expel Diego Garcia's indigenous people--the Chagossians--and deport them to slums in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where most live in dire poverty to this day. Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders, military strategists, and exiled islanders, as well as hundreds of declassified documents, David Vine exposes the secret history of Diego Garcia. He chronicles the Chagossians' dramatic, unfolding story as they struggle to survive in exile and fight to return to their homeland. Tracing U.S. foreign policy from the Cold War to the war on terror, Vine shows how the United States has forged a new and pervasive kind of empire that is quietly dominating the planet with hundreds of overseas military bases.

Island of Shame is an unforgettable exposé of the human costs of empire and a must-read for anyone concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its consequences.The author will donate all royalties from the sale of this book to the Chagossians.

  • Princeton University Press; March 2009
  • ISBN: 9781400829972
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Island of Shame
  • Author: David Vine
  • Imprint: Princeton University Press

In The Press

"Provocative. This book is the first significant look at how the Chagossians' fate has been tied to the needs of empire. Vine convincingly connects the U.S. military's relocation of the Chagossians with a larger historic program of military imperialism and prolonged efforts to establish strategic bases in key geographical locations around the globe. This is a story that will find a wide audience."—David H. Price, author of Threatening Anthropology

About The Author

David Vine is assistant professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C.