Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Hemisphere: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Hemisphere: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America

Article excerpt

Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America BY PETER ANDREAS. Oxford University Press, 2013, 472 pp. $29.95.

Smuggler Nation is one of those rare books that compellingly reconstructs history by examining familiar events through an entirely novel lens. Andreas' subject is the long American tradition of turning a profit by illicitly evading overbearing rules and laws imposed for reasons of national security, revenue collection, or morality. Whenever authorities have sought to deny intense consumer demand or to impose prohibitive taxes on commerce, enterprising Americans have smuggled a remarkable range of unauthorized goods: from tea, rum, and hard drugs, to condoms and pornography, to industrial technology, skilled workers, and immigrant laborers. But Andreas is no mere collector of amusing tales from the underground: rather, in demonstrating that cross-border criminality is nothing new, he counters sensationalistic fearmongers who warn that globalization presents unprecedented dangers and requires more expansive policing. …

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