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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Military Members!
Disillusionment is at once a bitter pill, a feeling of loss, betrayal and abandonment, sadness, and yet...triumph, and hope for a new beginning.

This book literally changed my life. When I finished "A Century of War" I was shaken to the core. My entire political world view had been challenged, and the history I was taught as a child was insufficient to answer...
Published on December 29, 2009 by Ronald E. Jones

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3 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appallingly Bad
Revisionist Libertarian tripe that relies upon a great deal of discredited "scholarship", such as the notion that FDR knew in advance of the planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Published 15 months ago by A Customer


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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Military Members!, December 29, 2009
This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
Disillusionment is at once a bitter pill, a feeling of loss, betrayal and abandonment, sadness, and yet...triumph, and hope for a new beginning.

This book literally changed my life. When I finished "A Century of War" I was shaken to the core. My entire political world view had been challenged, and the history I was taught as a child was insufficient to answer that challenge. I was heartbroken and in tears.

Before you dismiss these claims as mere hyperbole, understand that just a few years before, I had separated from the United States Marine Corps after nine years of Infantry service. All Marines volunteer because they believe in something; for me, it was duty for my country, and my belief in that "shining city upon a hill" that Reagan spoke of in his farewell address; and I believed hard.

But all of that was about to change...

"A Century of War" is only 187 pages of actual text. Seven chapters, plus an appendix (and an extensive bibliography). All written by a mild-mannered Alabama lawyer named John V. Denson, a scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Montgomery, AL. It is incisive and without fluff. You can read it in just a few hours.

Chapter 1 - A Century of War. The twentieth century is identified as the bloodiest in all of human history, in which government killed more than 170 Million people. The context is established from which the rest of the narrative flows. This chapter can be summed up in the words of a German poet named Johann Christian Friedrich Holderlin: "What has made the State a hell on earth has been that man has tried to make it his heaven."

Chapter 2 - Abraham Lincoln and the First Shot. Gives an account of the chain of events leading up to the War for Southern Independence, as well as the words and deeds of the major participants. This chapter can be summed up in the words of Abraham Lincoln from his first inaugural address: "The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere."

Chapter 3 - The Calamity of World War I. WWI was (according to Oxford don Niall Ferguson) "nothing less than the greatest error in modern history." One which still haunts the British people to this day as a reprehensible waste of human lives.

Chapter 4 - Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First Shot. "The last good war" and American's favorite war. The author makes the case [convincingly] that WWII was merely a continuation of WWI, primarily because of the 'vindictive and fraudulent Versailles treaty' that ended the first war. Both wars, he continues, [like all wars] were begun out of economic interests. In short, money and power. This chapter can be summed up in the words of Secretary of War Henry Stimson on 25 Nov 1941 "The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves."

Chapter 5 - Lincoln and Roosevelt: American Caesars. A side-by-side comparison of the actions taken by Lincoln and Roosevelt, and the economic interests that influenced their decision. The author discusses those interests and draws a sharp distinction between 'private enterprise' and 'free enterprise.' This chapter can be summed up in the words of William Pitt on 18 Nov 1783: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants."

Chapter 6 - Another Century of War? American foreign policy will attempt to justify huge military budgets and draconian infringements of Liberty. But to what end? This chapter can be summed up in the words of George Washington from his farewell address "The strongest argument against one nation interfering with another does not have to be deduced from any doctrine, moral or otherwise; it is found by looking honestly at the history of past centuries."

Chapter 7 - The Will to Peace. A heart-rending look at the Christmas truce that occurred primarily between the British and German soldiers along the Western Front in December 1914; after which, strict orders forbidding such fraternization were issued. This chapter cannot be summed up by any one quote. However, it is enlightening to quote the author on nationalism: "A principle idea of nationalism was that the individual owed a duty of self-sacrifice to "The Greater Good" of his nation, and that the noblest act a person could do was to give his life for his country during a war..." Addendum - as a supplement to chapter 7, I recommend the movie All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal Cinema Classics), or the book All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

Every man's perception is colored by past experience. So I cannot say whether you will be as moved by this retelling of events as was I. But having been recently in the service, I found myself a bit indignant that a mere politician should contemplate expending life, infringing liberty, and destroying property in order to increase the profits of his friends, family, cronies and contributors.

Regardless of your political persuasion, it should force you to think, and to seek the truth for yourself. "A Century of War" was just the beginning for me...But the last few years have been an amazing learning experience. When you finish, I would strongly recommend you buy two copies of Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution--and What It Means for Americans Today. Read one, and give one to a friend.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very good, succinct introduction to revisionism., November 20, 2011
This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
I finished this book a few minutes ago and I have to say that I really enjoyed it for these reasons:

1) It's very short, easy to read, less than 200 pages.

2) The author quotes many of the leading revisionist historians on the particular subjects. Many of them being involved in academia.

3) The author compares views with other prominent historians such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who also believed that Lincoln and Roosevelt set dangerous precedents. Though, John says that "He(Arthur) attempts to justify the actions of both presidents on grounds that they were acting during a "crisis" pertaining to the "survival of the American government". John then quotes Arthur's passage, the one which led Jon to that conclusion:

"Both presidents took their actions in the light of day and to the accompaniment of uninhibited political debate. They did what they thought they had to do to save the republic. They threw themselves in the end on the justice of the country and the rectitude of their motives. Whatever Lincoln and Roosevelt felt compelled to do under the pressure of crisis did not corrupt their essential commitment to constitutional ways and democratic processes."
- Arthur Schlesinger Jr

Though, I would like to point out from this quote, I don't see how one can be sure whether Arthur is expressing his opinion or whether he truly believes that Lincoln and Roosevelt really thought that THEY were doing what is best for the country. Note: I do have Arthur's book, from which this quote was taken, "Imperial Presidency", on my shelf, I just haven't had time to read it. Reading this may answer that question.

There are a few other minor instances of things like this...while I wholeheartedly agree with what John is saying as I share the same sentiments as him.

4) A brief account of the Christmas Truce in WW1, an event that I wasn't aware of. Those few pages really touched my heart.

5) The Recommended Reading List at the end is of good size, 2 & 1/2 pages.

6) It's clear to me that John has read an enormous amount of history books. I recently encountered an interview where he says he tries to read so many a year, I can't recall the number. He reviewed 5 anti-war books for the Lew Rockwell Show, an audio podcast, here's the interview:

I'd like to add a Woodrow Wilson quote I found in the book on WW1, the citation is below as well:

"Why, my fellow-citizens, is there any man here, or any woman-let me say, is there any child here, who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?...This war, in its inception, was a commercial and industrial war. It was not a political war."

[The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Arthur S. Link, ed. (Princeton, N.J..: Princeton University Press, 1990), vol 63, pp. 45-46.]

This quote seems to go right along with what the Socialist's were saying over and over again during WW1. I believe them to be right in that regard. But then again, they probably weren't the only ones pointing out these things.

That quote instantly made me think of words that I've heard in the movie "Reds" (1981). A very good, movie-like (historical fiction?) account of the Socialist movement's in the U.S. and in Russia.:

Overall, this book is very well worth your money and your time. It may change your life, your political views, or at the very least question most of the things you've been taught. I will be on the lookout for more material from John, it was a pleasure to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History not found in public school, January 30, 2013
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This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
What an eye opening account of what really happened during the three wars. And what is also eye opening is the fact that it is still going on today. Not once have we had to DEFEND this nation in any of the wars. Our military is used for offensive purposes only. Why do we even have a department of defense???? Great book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, March 14, 2013
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R. Humelbaugh (Washington State) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
This should be the standard of succinct honest history taught in schools. The fact that the three butchers in the title are held in high esteem is a travesty of the highest order. Can't recommend this book enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, May 20, 2013
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This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
This book is a very easy book to read and without question describes very clearly how all the wars could have been avoided and how much better off we all would be if they were. John Denson goes in great detail with facts explaining how Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt construed there opponents to fire the first shot to get us into a war that the majority of the public were against.

I suggest for all to check out all John Denson's other books. They are all exceptionally great books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read To Understand The Real History Of American Wars and Intervention, March 25, 2014
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This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
Although originally published in 2006, with the last few years’ agitation for war in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and now Ukraine, John Denson’s book, A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt, is as timely as ever for showing us the methods and lies politicians use as pretext for war.

The book is a combination of a lecture given at the Mises Institute and various articles published at Mises.org or LewRockwell.com. Although it is only a bit over 200 pages, it is packed full of revisionist history--the good kind. Each chapter stands on its own, but together they are quite powerful in making the case against interventionist war and empire.

Chapter one serves as the introduction to John Denson’s book and was originally given as a lecture at the Mises Institute.

Chapters two through four are about Lincoln’s war, WWI (briefly), and America’s entry into WWII.

Chapter five compares Lincoln’s “treachery” and Roosevelt’s political manipulation, both used to get their enemies to fire the first shot and thus legitimize starting or entering their own particular conflict.

Denson uses the last two chapters to discuss American foreign policy in the 21st century, 9/11, and the subsequent American invasions of the Middle East, and then to highlight the absurdities of war by discussing the Christmas Truce of 1914 between British and German troops on the Western Front.

Like any good scholarly work, A Century of War contains generous (10 pages) bibliography and recommended reading sections, ranging from Lord Acton to Fareed Zakaria.

Chapter 1 - A Century of War

The main thrusts of this chapter are two-fold. The first is that if we are to prevent interventionist war the power of the state must be limited.

Denson states:

We should learn from the war and welfare century that the greatest discovery in Western civilization was that liberty could be achieved only through the proper and effective limitation on the power of the state. It is this limitation on the power of the state which protects private property, a free-market economy, personal liberties and promotes a noninterventionist foreign policy, which, if coupled with a strong national defense, will bring peace and prosperity instead of war and welfare. It is not democracy per se which protects freedom.

Denson’s second point is that it “will be more important than ever for intellectuals of the future to have a correct understanding of the philosophy of individual freedom and of free-market economics in order to fight collectivism in the twenty-first century.”

To the second point, I readily agree. Educating people in these principles is why Aaron and I blog, podcast, and engage with people in conversations about these important topics.

To the first point, however, I would dissent on the “strong national defense” piece. There is no limiting a state to defense only. Any state with a sufficiently “strong national defense” will eventually do what John Quincy Adams said America should not--go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” Even the act of providing said defense can only be had at the expense of the individual freedoms of those it is supposedly protecting.

Chapter 2 - Abraham Lincoln and the First Shot

The essence of this chapter will be no surprise to anyone who has read some real history (like Tom DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln) concerning Lincoln and the so-called Civil War.

But Denson hones in on the details around the firing on Fort Sumter by the confederacy and provides such damning evidence of Lincoln’s duplicity and “treachery” that not even Jon Stewart and his panel of “experts” could refute the case.

Beginning in December 1860 and using primary sources, Denson gives us an almost daily chronicle of events leading up to the firing on the fort on April 12, 1861. Along the way he refutes the “mythology which has surrounded Lincoln”, particularly that he wanted to free the slaves and that he tried to prevent the war, by quoting Lincoln’s own words.

From Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

And then to this part of the speech which the South considered to be a declaration of war:

The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.

Denson continues by examining Lincoln’s acts as “America’s first dictator”, including his suspension of habeas corpus and the arrest and deportation of many of his opponents.

He ends with this, emphasis in original:

In summary, Lincoln brought about the “American System” envisioned by his hero Henry Clay, which included extremely high tariffs to protect Northern industry from foreign competition, internal improvements for Northern business from tax revenues collected primarily in the South, and a centralized federal government strong enough to be “aggressive abroad and despotic at home” as stated by Lee. None of this could have been achieved without destroying the American Republic created by the Founding Fathers, and this could not have been done without a war that excluded the South from Congress and then left this region prostrate from 1865 until the middle of the twentieth century--a century which saw Lincoln’s nation involved in two world wars with the German nation, which Bismarck had created.

Chapter 3 - The Calamity of World War I

If I have any major criticism of Denson’s book it would be about this chapter, which is a mere three pages dealing with “the war to end all wars”.

Instead of giving us some of his excellent revisionist history about WWI, Denson points us to Oxford professor Niall Ferguson’s book, The Pity of War, as an “iconoclastic attack on one of the most venerable patriotic myths of the British, namely that the First World War was a great and necessary war…”

I was quite disappointed in this chapter as a prelude to chapter four on the second world war, especially in light of the fact that Denson says in chapter four that “This unfair treaty [The Treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI] led directly to the resumption of war in 1939 between Germany, France, and Great Britain which evolved into WWII.”

Although Denson does include details about Wilson and WWI in chapter four, it is mostly about the end of the war and Wilson’s role in the Treaty of Versailles as a lead up to WWII.

This seems to be a bit of a cop out since Wilson’s name is on the cover.

Chapter 4 - Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First Shot

Denson comes out swinging in this chapter, combating the idea that WWII was a “just” or “noble” war because it was supposedly defensive, Pearl Harbor was supposedly unprovoked, and America was fighting Nazism and fascism.

He points out the hypocrisy in the “fact that Stalin and Soviet Russia were our allies and that we aided them with their oppression of millions of people during the war and thereafter is ignored.”

Denson documents how Roosevelt first tried to provoke a war directly with Germany by the passage of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 which provided Britain, the USSR, and other Allied nations with war materiel.

Having been unsuccessful at getting Hitler to fire first on this front, Roosevelt turned to his backup plan: Japan.

The evidence of Roosevelt’s deception about Pearl Harbor is so overwhelming that “apologists” for him and his war are forced to argue thusly (p.103):

Typical of such apologists is Professor Thomas Bailey, a Stanford University historian of diplomatic relations, who declares.

Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor…. If he was going to induce the people to move at all, he would have to trick them into acting for their own best interests, or what he conceived to be their best interests. He was like the physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient’s own good….The country was overwhelmingly noninterventionist to the very day of Pearl Harbor and an overt attempt to lead the people into war would have resulted in certain failure and an almost certain ousting of Roosevelt in 1940, with a consequent defeat for his ultimate aims.

The last twenty pages of this chapter rely heavily on Robert Stinnett’s book Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor to paint the picture of Roosevelt deceiving the commanders in Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, the subsequent cover-up, and the scapegoating of Kimmel and Short after the fact. Stinnett relies on personal diaries as well as previously hidden documents which were kept secret in the Navy’s vault for over fifty years.

Denson concludes:

Stinnett’s book reveals the ugly truth of the crimes, if not treason, of President Roosevelt and leaves no doubt about how Roosevelt provoked the Japanese into firing the first shot and how he withheld essential information from his Pearl Harbor commanders that would have allowed them either to prevent the attack or protect themselves.

Chapter 5 - Lincoln and Roosevelt: American Caesars

In this chapter Denson compares Lincoln and Roosevelt on several fronts. Both men maneuvered their enemy into firing the first shot, so as to legitimize starting or entering a war, even though they had both already essentially, if not explicitly, declared war by other means.

Both men had ample time leading up to the “first shot” in which to negotiate with the enemy and avoid hostilities.

Both men had plenty of opportunity to present the case for war to the Congress and ask for a declaration of war. Neither did.

Denson also points out the economic interests and factors which played a role in both Lincoln and Roosevelt’s decisions to instigate war. In Lincoln’s case it was to “prevent the South from establishing a free-trade zone with a low tariff” which would would compete with Lincoln’s Union special interest groups. Denson correctly labels this as the “essence of fascism and the cause of many wars.”

In Roosevelt’s case, he was almost completely under the control of businessmen and bankers like Morgan and Rockefeller who wanted protection from their German and Japanese competitors.

Denson concludes:

Americans need to oppose and destroy the “imperial presidency” because of what it has already done and will do to our country and to our individual freedom. The first step toward that goal is to recognize Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt for what they really were: American Caesars.

Chapter 6 - Another Century of War?

The title of this short chapter is taken from professor Gabriel Kolko’s 2002 book, Another Century of War?. Denson quotes Kolko exclusively to make the point that America’s global interventionism since 1947 has had the opposite effect to its stated goal.

It has only brought instability, death, destruction, and chaos to the world in general and those countries which America has invaded and occupied specifically.

Denson commends Kolko’s book to us as:

...a powerful warning to the politicians of “American Empire” about the dangers of hubris, or the arrogance of power, showing that we should abandon our interventionist foreign policy or suffer the same consequences as other empires (e.g., Athenian, Roman, Spanish and British) before us.

Chapter 7 - The Will To Peace

This chapter is only eight pages, but in my opinion, the most compelling and moving of all of them, and a perfect ending to this book.

Denson shares the story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 between British and German troops through passages from Stanley Weintraub’s Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce.

The truce began on December 19th, 1914 when German troops left their trenches to recover their wounded. The British followed suit and ended up engaging in conversation with the Germans and then they both helped each other bury their dead.

Of course this type of “fraternization” was forbidden by, at least, the British commanders, but it did not deter the men.

On Christmas Eve, the Germans began putting up Christmas trees and offered a cease-fire, an offer taken up by the British. They sang Christmas carols together, recited the 23rd Psalm, played soccer together, and exchanged Christmas gifts. The truce continued for two weeks.

Weintraub quotes a soldier speaking of the activities of the truce: “Never...was I so keenly aware of the insanity of war.”

It is a shame that some men must first experience war before coming to this realization.

My Conclusion

This is a fantastic book. That I disagree with Denson’s advocacy of a strong national defense in no way takes away from the rest of his research and analysis. To the contrary, I suppose the fact that I’m miffed about the lack of his own content on WWI is perhaps an indication of the quality of his workmanship.

Denson’s book has been added to the standard reading curriculum in the Clark house.

It seems only fitting to end the review of a book rebuking the ideas of empire, war, and statism with thoughts from someone who witnessed the horrors of war firsthand and died needlessly in the midst of them.

In the final chapter, Denson quotes from part of famed British soldier and poet Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est. Part of the title is taken from the ancient Roman poet Horace’s Odes. The entire line reads “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” and is roughly translated as “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.” Owen was shot and killed on November 4, 1918 attempting to cross the Sambre canal in northern France, one week before the signing of the armistice. Here is his entire poem.

DULCE ET DECORUM EST by WILFRED OWEN

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read and very thought provocative, November 23, 2013
By 
Mike Lofton (Phoenix, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
A must read for anybody who's tired of the popular political rhetoric and myths about our "heros" who place our young people in harm's way for reason they don't dare speak about. This should be a required reading in grade school but the same people who send our kids to war are also the same people who directly or indirectly dictate what our kids learn in public school.
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3 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appallingly Bad, August 19, 2013
By 
A Customer (North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt (Paperback)
Revisionist Libertarian tripe that relies upon a great deal of discredited "scholarship", such as the notion that FDR knew in advance of the planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
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A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt
A Century of War: Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt by John Denson (Paperback - June 16, 2006)
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