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First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Powerby Warren Zimmermann
Synopses & Reviews
"We were sure that we would win, that we should score the first great triumph in a mighty world-movement."--Theodore Roosevelt, 1904
Americans like to think they have no imperial past. In fact, the United States became an imperial nation within five short years a century ago (1898-1903), exploding onto the international scene with the conquest of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and (indirectly) Panama. How did the nation become a player in world politics so suddenly-and what inspired the move toward imperialism in the first place?
The renowned diplomat and writer Warren Zimmermann seeks answers in the lives and relationships of five remarkable figures: the hyper-energetic Theodore Roosevelt, the ascetic naval strategist Alfred T. Mahan, the bigoted and wily Henry Cabot Lodge, the self-doubting moderate Secretary of State John Hay, and the hard-edged corporate lawyer turned colonial administrator Elihu Root. Faced with difficult choices, these extraordinary men, all close friends, instituted new political and diplomatic policies with intermittent audacity, arrogance, generosity, paternalism, and vision.
Zimmermann's discerning account of these five men also examines the ways they exploited the readiness of the American people to support a surge of expansion overseas. He makes it clear why no discussion of America's international responsibilities today can be complete without understanding how the United States claimed its global powers a century ago.
"Zimmermann...writes this year's version of The Metaphysical Club (2001) — this time in the realm of action, as that Pulitzer Prize winner was in the realm of thought....All in all, a major work that should garner attention among this year's book-judging panels." Allen Weakland, Booklist (Starred Review)
"In this fascinating and engaging account, Zimmermann does a brilliant job of showing how Mahan's views enabled the United States to bootstrap up to the status of world colonial power within the short space of just five years, from 1898 to 1903." Publishers Weekly
"A vigorous history of America's rise to global power....An intelligent, highly readable contribution to the historical literature, usefully updating such standard texts as Howard K. Beale's Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power (1956)." Kirkus Reviews
"Zimmermann admirably presents complex individuals and their extremely complex historical era in a manner accessible to the layperson. This readable, richly detailed, scholarly work...is rewarding to readers who want more than an introductory historical treatment of the origins of today's American foreign policy." Library Journal
"[B]rilliantly readable....Zimmermann wisely resists making heroes — or villains — of his central characters....Reflection on our imperial past and the history of our relations with the rest of the world may well be in order at this moment in our national history. Warren Zimmermann has provided us with an excellent place to begin." David Nasaw, The New York Times Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Although many still deny that the United States can be characterized as an empire, Zimmerman (formerly of the U.S. Foreign Service) argues that America's period of imperial expansion began in 1898, when the United States gained military possession of the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. He argues that five men—John Hay, Captain Alfred T. Mahan, Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Theodore Roosevelt—can be understood as the fathers of modern American imperialism. He separately profiles each of the men, exploring how their actions and preconceptions condition American empire then and now.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Warren Zimmermann spent thirty-three years as an officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in France, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, and as our last ambassador to Yugoslavia. He has taught at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities and is the author of Origins of a Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and Its Destroyers, which won the American Academy of Diplomacy Book Award in 1997. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Newsweek, The National Interest, and national newspapers. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C., area.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Rising Empire 3
Pt. 1 The Music Makers 15
1 The Expansionist Impulse 17
2 The Favor of Fortune 40
3 A Pen-and-Ink Sailor 85
4 A Lawyer's Duty 123
5 Dauntless Intolerance 149
6 So Brilliant and Aggressive a Man 188
Pt. 2 Imperial America 231
7 Island Fortress, Cuban Blood 233
8 The Supreme Triumphs of War 268
9 Jingoes and Goo-goos 313
10 The White Man's Burdens 362
11 The Imperial Presidency 418
12 America's Century 475
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