Imperial by William T Vollmann - review by David Worth

David Worth

Trials of the Borderlands



Alma Books 1,306pp £20

Ever since the United States assumed the mantle ‘leader of the free world’, in the acrid carnage of the Second World War, there has been a debate as to whether America is an empire in all but name, as Great Britain, France or even that mother of all empires, ancient Rome, had been before. If you look at Europe and NATO, at the World Bank and the IMF, there is no clear, irrefutable answer. 

But look to the Western hemisphere and there is no room for doubt, at least historically, that Yanqui imperialism, with its Marines and gunboats and waving banners, was very real indeed, nowhere more so than in relation to America’s closest neighbour, Mexico. The saga began in 1846, when

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