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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 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in the Havana Harbor. Although there was no evidence that the Spanish were responsible, yellow newspapers such as William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal whipped Americans into frenzy by claiming that Spain's "secret infernal machine" had destroyed the battleship. Soon after, the blandly handsome and easily influenced President McKinley declared war, sending troops not only to Cuba but also to the Philippines, Spain's sprawling colony on the other side of the world.
As Evan Thomas reveals in his rip-roaring history of those times, the hunger for war had begun years earlier. Depressed by the "closing" of the Western frontier and embracing theories of social Darwinism, a group of warmongers that included a young Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge agitated loudly and incessantly that the United States exert its influence across the seas. These hawks would transform American foreign policy and, when Teddy ascended to the presidency, commence with a devastating war without reason, concocted within the White House--a bloody conflict that would come at tremendous cost.
Thrillingly written and brilliantly researched, THE WAR LOVERS is the story of six men at the center of a transforming event in U.S. history: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, McKinley, William James, and Thomas Reed, and confirms once more than Evan Thomas is a popular historian of the first rank.
On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. The sinking of the Maine was just the provocation Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt was looking for. Along with his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his rival, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Roosevelt began stirring the public's desire for war against Spain. Roosevelt was soon charging up San Juan Hill in Cuba with his Rough Riders in a tragi-comic campaign that marked America's emergence as an empire abroad. Through the perspective of five larger-than-life characters--war lovers Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and two prominent doves, House Speaker Thomas Reed and philosopher William James--Evan Thomas portrays a pivotal chapter in American history.
An intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men, THE WAR LOVERS is moving saga of courage, ambition, and broken friendships with a provocative relevance to today.
About the Author
Evan Thomas was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek for more than 30 years. He has frequently appeared as a commentator on TV and radio and teaches writing at Princeton. He is the bestselling author of six works of nonfiction: Sea of Thunder, John Paul Jones, Robert Kennedy, The Very Best Men, The Man to See, and The Wise Men. He lives in Washington D.C.
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