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How did some of the most savage and desolate islands in the world, scattered across the Pacific and Caribbean, become U.S. territories? The Great Guano Rush describes the fascinating and little-known history of this earliest example of American overseas expansion.
"Guano" (bird droppings) was the 19th century's most important fertilizer and in 1856 Congress, believing that American farmers were being gouged on guano sales by foreign monopolists, authorized U.S. citizens to claim and exploit unowned guano-rich islands around the world. The legacy of this decision is a strange group of American "appurtenances," ranging from Haiti to the central Pacific and with a highly diverse subsequent history, from the notorious near-slavery on Navassa Island to the contemporary issue of the Johnston Atoll chemical weapon destruction plant.
The Great Guano Rush is an important book for its insights on both 19th century America and the history of a key commodity. But it is also important in establishing that, contrary to the American free enterprise myth, the success of this country has always been based on a close cooperation between business and government.
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Jimmy M. Skaggs is Professor of Economics at Wichita State University.From Library Journal:
Guano, the dried excrement of sea fowl, was one of the most efficacious fertilizers available in the 19th century and was in great demand in America and Europe. Under pressure from American farmers, Congress pased the Guano Act of 1856, which permitted U.S. citizens to claim uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and Pacific for the mining of guano. Skaggs (economics, Wichita State Univ.) views this development as a move toward "activist public economic policy," not "evidence of laissez faire." He describes in detail the history of the guano industry, including the "guano war" of 1852 and the riot of guano workers on Navassa Island in 1889. Skaggs includes much information on the technical side of mining and the occasional drollery: Chapter 11 is entitled "Guano Happens." Recommended for large public and academic libraries.
- W. L. Wuerch, Micronesian Area Research Ctr., Univ. of Guam
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Palgrave Macmillan, 1995. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110312123396
Book Description Palgrave Macmillan, 1995. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312123396