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The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War Paperback – November 8, 2010
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Theodore Roosevelt steers America onto the shoals of imperialism in this stridently disapproving study of early 20th-century U.S. policy in Asia. Bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Bradley traces a 1905 voyage to Asia by Roosevelt's emissary William Howard Taft, who negotiated a secret agreement in which America and Japan recognized each other's conquests of the Philippines and Korea. (Roosevelt's flamboyant, pistol-packing daughter Alice went along to generate publicity, and Bradley highlights her antics.) Each port of call prompts a case study of American misdeeds: the brutal counterinsurgency in the Philippines; the takeover of Hawaii by American sugar barons; Roosevelt's betrayal of promises to protect Korea, which greenlighted Japanese expansionism and thus makes him responsible for Pearl Harbor. Bradley explores the racist underpinnings of Roosevelt's policies and paradoxical embrace of the Japanese as Honorary Aryans. Bradley's critique of Rooseveltian imperialism is compelling but unbalanced. He doesn't explain how Roosevelt could have evicted the Japanese from Korea, and insinuates that the Japanese imperial project was the brainstorm of American advisers. Ironically, his view of Asian history, like Roosevelt's, denies agency to the Asians themselves. Photos, maps. One-day laydown.(Nov. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Bradley’s first books, Flags of Our Fathers (2000) and Flyboys (2003), were sensationally popular World War II combat stories. His new one, about U.S.-Japanese diplomacy in 1905, represents a departure. Asserting a causal connection between diplomatic understandings reached then and war 36 years later, Bradley dramatizes his case with a delegation Theodore Roosevelt dispatched to Japan in the summer of 1905. Led by Secretary of War William Taft and ornamented by the president’s quotable daughter Alice, it sailed while TR hosted the peace conference between victorious Japan and defeated Russia. As he recounts the itinerary of Taft’s cruise, Bradley discusses attitudes of social Darwinism and white superiority that were then prevalent and expressed by TR and Taft. They modified their instincts, Bradley argues, in dealing with nonwhite Japan, and secretly conceded it possession of Korea. This is what Bradley asserts was a prerequisite to Pearl Harbor in 1941, a dubious thesis when the tensions of the 1930s stemmed from general Japanese aggressiveness, not its control of Korea per se. Bradley does fine on 1905 but falters when predicting the future. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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You can't put this book down. It reads almost like a novel, although a few things are repeated several times (like Teddy Roosevelt's career as a best-selling writer). I was shocked to learn about the massacres that the US did in the Philippines, the water boarding torture that we practiced on a widespread basis, our deposing of the Hawaiian queen. History books have certainly whitewashed our behavior. It makes me ashamed; I no longer can feel anger towards the Turks for their treatment of Armenians when my own country indulged in wholesale slaughter in the Philippines, for no justifiable cause.
What impressed me most, however, was the way that this book showcased how our thinking has changed since the turn of the 19th century, when whites assumed that it was impossible for non-whites to attain civilization or achieve democracy. The arrogance is almost unbelievable -- until one remembers how unquestioned this worldview was. What similar arrogances do we currently indulge in, which will seem equally reprehensible a few generations from now?
As soon as I finished this book, I bought copies for numerous people, and signed up to give a summary of it to a book group. That's how important the message is.
I had always known about our "somewhat" imperialistic tendencies toward the end of the 1800s that was clearly a follow on to our slaughter of the "native" Americans. I'm not sure I buy their having any more claim to the Americas than the white man. Though it is certainly true we brutally, unjustly dispossessed them of land they did occupy. Understanding they were as brutal as the white man given the opportunity. We grabbed everything in sight and laid down the Monroe Doctrine. Our treatment of them after conquest being another matter.
Bradley essentially concerns himself with our Pacific adventures in imperialism. But certainly not to the total exclusion of other grabs at the same time like Cuba. Our duplicitous assistance especially to the Hawaiians and Filipinos is quite detailed. A good deal of the book deals with Teddy Roosevelt's dishonest broker's hand along with accomplices like Big Bill Taft.
I had always thought Commodore Perry was a great American who opened the doors of Japan. In reality he was an armed intruder who ushered in the end to 400 years of relative tranquility in Japan, truly did awaken a sleeping giant and taught it to be as aggressive and savage as we were. A quote from Mark Twain that was included in the book: "There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage then the other savages." We clearly demonstrated our infinite capacity for savagery.
Myths frequently don't stand up to honest revelation. Teddy was not quite the rugged outdoorsman he portrayed himself to be. He was if anything an excellent spin doctor. The Panama canal was built explicitly in adherence to Thayer Mahan's plan for projection of naval sea power. Which of course Teddy used to further the white man's expansion. Without giving too much away one can see from Teddy's machinations in Asia all the way to our failed adventures in Korea and Vietnam.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I looked the book up on Amazon and checked out the reviews. So many people were giving it one star with the epithet that it was just left wing liberal propaganda I had to read it. Honest history is not propaganda. It is reality and who we are.
I would rather know our history as it truly was/is then subscribe to a fantasy world that never existed. Bradley's book has the ring of well researched authenticity. I very highly recommend it to anyone genuinely interested in modern American history. Its a great backdrop to how we got here. The phrase "little brown brother" takes on a whole new meaning to me now. It is not an altogether pleasant read, but certainly one of the most enlightening books I've ever read.