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The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898by Evan Thomas
Synopses & Reviews
On February 15th, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. News of the blast quickly reached U.S. shores, where it was met by some not with alarm but great enthusiasm.
A powerful group of war lovers agitated that the United States exert its muscle across the seas. Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were influential politicians dismayed by the closing of the Western frontier. William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal falsely heralded that Spain's secret infernal machine had destroyed the battleship as Hearst himself saw great potential in whipping Americans into a frenzy. The Maine would provide the excuse they'd been waiting for.
On the other side were Roosevelt's former teacher, philosopher William James, and his friend and political ally, Thomas Reed, the powerful Speaker of the House. Both foresaw a disaster. At stake was not only sending troops to Cuba and the Philippines, Spain's sprawling colony on the other side of the world-but the friendships between these men.
Now, bestselling historian Evan Thomas brings us the full story of this monumental turning point in American history. Epic in scope and revelatory in detail, The War Lovers takes us from Boston mansions to the halls of Congress to the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of the Philippines. It is landmark work with an unforgettable cast of characters-and provocative relevance to today.
"America acquired an empire in a fit of neurosis, according to this shrewd, caustic psychological interpretation of the Spanish-American War by well-known. Newsweek editor and bestselling author Thomas (Sea of Thunder). The book focuses on three leading war-mongers — Teddy Roosevelt, his crony, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, whose fanciful New York Journal coverage of the Cuban insurrection and the sinking of the USS Maine fanned war hysteria. Ashamed of their fathers' failure to fight in the Civil War, according to Thomas, these righteous sons trumped up a pointless conflict with Spain as a test of manhood, conflating the personal with the national. To Thomas they represent an American ruling elite imbued with notions of Anglo-Saxon supremacy over alien races and lower orders, but anxious about its own monied softness. As foils, Thomas offers Thomas Brackett Reed, the antiwar speaker of the House, and philosopher William James, who advanced an ethic of moral courage against the Rooseveltian cult of physical aggression.Thomas's thesis is bold and will undoubtedly be controversial, but his protagonists make for rich psychological portraiture, and the book serves as an illuminating case study in the sociocultural underpinnings of American military adventurism. 45 b&w photos, 2 maps." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Journalist Thomas revisits the 1898 Spanish-American War through the perspectives of Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge and William Randolph Hearst, as proponents and instigators of the war. He contrasts them with their contemporaries, William James and Thomas Brackett Reed, Speaker of the House. In lively style, Thomas recreates these dynamic personalities, drawing on letters, memoirs and archival documents. Thomas sees the Civil War as instrumental in shaping the attitudes of the men. He also feels that their eagerness for war with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines was accepted by the American people out of a need to see itself as a unified nation again. This was exacerbated by economic and social uncertainties. There are many parallels to the recent invasion of Iraq but this is more a story of a mindset in which only conquest can define masculinity. Thomas sheds light on a period in our history generally ignored or trivialized but which was essential in creating the nation we are today. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the bestselling author of "Sea of Thunder" comes a riveting narrative about America's ferocious drive towards empire during the Gilded Age, and the uncanny resemblance of the Spanish-American War to the Iraq War of today.
On February 15th, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. That the explosion was almost certainly a self-inflicted accident, mattered not to warmongers such as Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. Along with newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, they fabricated evidence of a Spanish attack and, as they had long hoped, President McKinley soon declared war. That war would turn out to a bloody quagmire that would come at tremendous cost. It would transform Roosevelt into an American hero, but would shatter friendships among Roosevelt, Lodge and their close friends and former allies philosopher William James and the powerful Speaker of the House Thomas Reed.
A book with uncanny resonance with the recent invasion of Iraq, The War Lovers is a thrilling war story, as well as a powerful chronicle of friendships torn asunder by an invented enemy and a rush to battle.
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History and Social Science » Military » US Military » General