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In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines [Paperback]

by Stanley Karnow
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 3, 1990 0345328167 978-0345328168 Reissue
/Stanley Karnow Karnow goes back 500 years to paint a fascinating portrait of Philippine history, ultimately focusing on the U.S.'s imperial experience in the islands. Here is the truth about America's attempt to remake the Philippines "in our image"--complete with American political, educational, and cultural institutions. "Authority and great insight."--Time. 16 pages of photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though Karnow claims that U.S. imperialism in its former colony, the Philippines, has been "uniquely benign" compared to European colonialism, the evidence set forth in this colorful, briskly readable history undercuts that prognosis. He shows that a succession of U.S. presidents and administrators coddled the archipelago's 60 or so ruling families, perpetuating the feudal oligarchy that continues to this day, and widening the gap between rich and poor. Karnow, whose Vietnam: A History is a standard account of the American venture in Southeast Asia, draws intriguing parallels: the U.S.-Philippine war of 1898, much like the Vietnam experience, dehumanized U.S. troops, who looted and annihilated villages; ex-President Marcos, like South Vietnamese ruler Diem, presented Washington with the problem of how to deal with a client state that squandered its credibility. In Karnow's assessment, the "new prosperity" under Corazon Aquino has not touched the Filipino countryside or slums. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Philippine history is often described as 300 years in a (Spanish) convent and 50 years in Hollywood. Karnow, who worked for 30 years as a journalist in Asia, narrates the careers of several individuals who influenced the Philippines. His treatment of the indecisiveness of President McKinley over the issue of empire and of the egotistical General MacArthur make the work a definite purchase for libraries. Weaker in treatment is the post-independence period, where Karnow concentrates upon Marcos and Aquino, both of whom he knows. Particularly revealing is his account of the White House coming to terms with the Aquino election victory. Those who love swashbuckling history will enjoy this work.
- Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (March 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345328167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345328168
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of history, the best of stories August 18, 1999
By A Customer
History writing rarely is this good... even Stanley Karnow's more famous book on Vietnam pales in comparison. The best part of this book is that it doesn't read like a dry history, but like a very rich and interesting novel. No wonder Stanley Karnow won the Pulitzer prize for writing this book.
The reality is this book details the wonderful, rich, benevolent, and sometimes tragic relationship that the US had with its one and only true foreign colony. And as someone who has traveled extensively and lived in the Philippines, this book is spot on.
As an American, I can only shake my head at President Clinton's sheer ignorance for not visiting the PI during the national celebrations of their Centennary of Independence from Spain in 1998, an independence that the US helped them get... and then took away for another 50 years.
Read this book, especially if you are American, and learn something important about America's involvement in Asia... some may argue even more important that America's involvement in Vietnam. To this day, the Philippines is the world's third largest english speaking nation behind the US and UK....
A monumental piece of history.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering Case Study of Exporting America January 2, 2004
From the valiant death of Ferdinand Magellan in the azure surf of Mactan in 1521 to the fall of Ferdinand Marcos at the hands of Cory Aquino and a disillusioned Reagan administration in 1986, Stanley Karnow, the venerable Asian correspondent for the Washington Post, traces the arc of the Philippines' long, tumultuous relationship with the West. Briskly-paced and engaging, "In Our Image" won the 1990 Pulitzer-prize for history and presents a balanced, yet sobering perspective on America's only traditional colonial experience.
Those looking for anti-American or anti-imperialist fodder will be sorely disappointed by Karnow's generally positive assessment of US policies in the archipelago. He praises the massive investment made in developing and improving the indigenous education system and industrial infrastructure, and frequently notes that American policies were far less exploitative and more politically liberal than any other colonial administration in history. Indeed, he argues that the Washington's voluntary grant of independence to the Philippines was nothing short of revolutionary at the time, and that the islands were actually more subject to American domination after independence in 1946 than before.
On the other hand, those seeking inspiration in how American democracy and industry can be successfully exported to different cultures will be equally disappointed with this case study. Most politicians today, liberal and conservative alike, bristle at the notion that some people or cultures are simply incapable of American-style democracy, and the freedom and justice that comes with it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Karnow produces classic work on Philippine-US relations December 24, 1997
By A Customer
The main complaint I have about this work is that it was for too long out of print or hard to find (a failing now apparently remedied). That's good, because Karnow has produced one of the definitive works on Philippine-US relations -- and one that I will use for classes I teach on the subject. While Karnow has been called a "nostalgic colonialist" for his sometimes slightly "White Man's Burden" view of Philippine history as, roughly, "better under the Americans than the Spanish," his criticism of turn-of-the-century American jingoism and broken promises to the Philippines redeems him in my eyes. All in all, a thorough, well-told tale of a too-invisible chapter in American history.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Historical Read July 11, 2001
Karnow has painstakingly crafted a rich, densly fact filled historical biography centering on America's forgotten involvment with it's only true colony, obtained through dubious pretenses from Spain in 1898. The book follows foreign involvement in the Philippines from Ferdinand Magellan's landing in 1521 to the end of the Regan era. Karnow's narrative provides expert and eye-opening insight into the inside workings of the Spanish and American colonial powers and their abusive, beneficial and at times comical consequences on the long-suffering Philippine people. An original book about a unique country with an even more unique history. An excellent read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the Philippines December 1, 2001
Most books on the Philippines are about American experiences there, mainly in World War II.
This is a well written, easily read history of that fascinating country.
It not only gives the history, but informs on the culture of the Philippines, and explains history that otherwise might be invisible or hard to understand. (For example, how Chinese immigrants influenced the richest families, the love/hate relationship of Filippinos with the USA, the reason why some Filippino politicians sided with Japan, etc.).
If you have to read just one book on this fascinating country, this is the one to read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fillipinos have their own history December 6, 1998
The average American knows little about the Philippines except for occasional news stories about tradgedies, and most Americans have visited this lovely country only as members of the armed services. However, Philippino history is more complicated and diverse than one would think from such contact. Stanley Karnow's book is a good introduction to the history and politics of this fascinating country, and his insight into the way the culture works, including the importance of family connections, is a good introduction to anyone who intends to visit this country and to understand it's ways and its people
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars America's Empire in the Phillipines
Stanley Karnow was an Asia expert who wrote one of the classic books on the Vietnam War. Here he tells the history of America's first colonial adventure in the Phillipines from the... Read more
Published 4 days ago by John R. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars
5 stars bc it is extremely informative. visited manila for business in February and going back in April. Helps to understand people
Published 1 month ago by zedillo99
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommend
A few things to note but given the lack of Philippines history books these aren't really a detriment:
The book was written in the late 1980s so history from 1990 to current... Read more
Published 1 month ago by James Hamill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, really informative
The author has a great style of writing. His experience in Asia and opportunity to speak to and know many of the people he wrote about makes the book even more informative. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW WOW WPW
If only all histories were this good! This book read like a well written novel. The events and people came alive with satisfying now realism. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Arthur
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview
Covers from Spanish colonial era through Aquino with emphases on American involvement from the 1898-1903 Wars through WWII. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Henry
4.0 out of 5 stars The Vietnam treatment comes to the Philippines
The late Stanley Karnow wrote ( for me) the definitive book on US in Vietnam. He almost surpasses himself if that is possible in this book, which sheds a bright light on the US... Read more
Published 6 months ago by friend of new orleans
5.0 out of 5 stars An episode of the American empire
A good companion to Sterling Seagrave's THE MARCOS DYNASTY. The whole story of the CIA/Pentagon-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos is truly a depressing one. Read more
Published 6 months ago by TLR
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Worthwhile Read....But
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for anyone with ties or a general curiosity about the Philippines. Read more
Published 7 months ago by FreeEric
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insite to the Philippines
After serving for three years in the Philippines at the behest of the U.S. Government, for me this is a retrospective and explanation of what I observed and learned during my time. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Disgruntled Customer
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