Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America

Peter Andreas. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-19-974688-0
In this captivating new history, Brown University political science professor Andreas documents smuggling in America from the colonial “golden age of illicit trade” through the Industrial Revolution and on into the current “war on drugs.” Over the years, sundry contraband has ranged from ammunition and people to jewelry and drugs, and all have had an enormous impact on the American economy and culture: Dutch gunpowder proved a crucial import during the Revolutionary War; the 19th century saw countless Africans brought over as slaves, and women were kidnapped and sold to brothels; in the early 1900s, wealthy individuals snuck jewels through customs to avoid paying tariffs; today, South American cocaine producers rely on suspiciously large-scale imports of American chemicals to create the valuable narcotic, “most of which... end[s] up in the noses of American consumers.” Throughout the riveting text, Andreas also discusses the sociopolitical climates that gave rise to these storms of illicit commerce. Far from romanticizing or condoning illegal trade, Andreas convincingly argues that the flow of illicit goods has defined and shaped the nation, both in terms of who and what goes in and out, and how society reacts with regulatory policies. A valuable and entertaining read for historians and policymakers 43 b&w halftones. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, the Rafe Sagalyn Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/17/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
Paperback - 454 pages - 978-0-19-936098-7
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