's book Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific
(University of California Press, 2018) focuses on the role of Asians who worked within the making of U.S. global power after 1945. Man argues that the Cold War divide between communism and liberal democracy cast Asians into either bad or good—the bad being the Communists and Viet Cong, and the good being military servicemen channeled into American war zones. Following the labor circuits of Asian military workers and soldiers as they navigated an emergent Pacific world, Man reframes Asians as both U.S. citizens and as people from Asian countries like the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan. Doing so, Man writes, allows us to understand how U.S. empire took hold through a murky process of decolonization that on its surface sought to create an “Asia for Asians” but actually legitimated and obscured U.S. state violence. At the same time, Man traces other forms of decolonization by Asian soldiers who sought freedom and self-determination beyond the nation-state form, and saw decolonizing projects as permanently suspended and incomplete.
Christopher B. Patterson
teaches at Hong Kong Baptist University and is the author of Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific.