Recipient of the American Association of Geographers Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography!

This book is about the U.S. military’s overseas operations, both recognized wars and clandestine campaigns. Or rather, it is about the labor required to sustain such operations, and the experiences of people from around the world that do it. For the present day U.S. military empire is profoundly dependent upon a global army of labor that comes from countries as diverse as Bosnia, the Philippines, Turkey, India, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, and Fiji.

Such a state of affairs represents a profound shift in how the U.S. fights its wars. Put simply, it is now dependent upon contracted labor, especially in the realm of logistics, to sustain overseas operations.


Empire’s Labor has four broad goals: First, to trace the development and practice of logistics outsourcing by the U.S. military over the past two decades, and situate it within the broader context of government contracting trends in the fields of defense and intelligence. Second, to illuminate the immense work involved in sustaining the U.S.’s overseas military empire. Third, to trace the recruiting routes and labor supply chains traversed by the military’s global workforce, as well as the specific histories and present day politics that shape them. Fourth, and finally, to give voice to the agency, aspirations and experiences of those who labor for the military—focusing specifically on foreign logistics workers and their families.

The book is available in both paperback and a free, open access electronic edition, thanks to the Toward Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME) initiative, and the generous support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and the UCLA Library. Cornell University Press’ webpage for Empire’s Labor can be found here.



“Empire’s Labor conveys powerfully the nature and importance of geography to audiences beyond  academic geography. Clearly written and accessible to readers without training in specialist theory and vocabulary, the book nevertheless shows how extensive fieldwork and a critical geographical imagination can re-map the abstract and violently inhuman logistics of war-fighting in a profoundly humanizing way. As former AAG President John Agnew noted: “[Moore’s book]… displays the very best qualities of contemporary geographical scholarship in its synthesis of first-person experiences, wide reading of specialized literature across a range of fields, and a sophisticated but clearly expressed theoretical framing, particularly with its emphasis on the transfer of risk onto the shoulders of foreigners even as the objectives pursued are defined in Washington DC.”

Further, the prominent use of maps in the book helps to document a global geography of military infrastructure that is commonly ignored or obscured. What is especially impressive is the way in which Empire’s Labor conveys the human geographies and voices of the workers who toil in ‘someone else’s war’. This is a book that geographers will be able to recommend to non-geographers with pride.”

~ American Association of Geographers (AAG), Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography Committee

“Based in intensive on-the-ground research, this rich and remarkable book gives us a new way to understand the current everywhere war through the lens of the contract labor and migrations from poor countries that makes it possible.  Acutely analyzed, Moore’s book will be a foundational text for understanding contemporary war and providing insight into labor’s pushback.”

~ Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of International Studies and
Professor of Anthropology at Brown University, director of the Costs of War project, author of Homefront, and editor of Bases of Empire.

Empire’s Labor is a beautifully written, essential book exposing the labor and labor exploitation underpinning the military industrial complex, U.S. empire, and the corporations fueling permanent war.”

~ David Vine, Professor of Anthropology at American University, author of Base Nation and Island of Shame.

“I can’t think of any book about America’s current global military conflicts that I’ve learned more from than Adam Moore’s Empire’s Labor. Moore combines geography, history, ethnography, and political science in a sophisticated and readable analysis about the role of everyday people from all over the world who support American military logistics.”

~ Jennifer Mittelstadt, Professor of History at Rutgers University, author of The Rise of the Military Welfare State.