A rueful, disturbing account of a regrettable period of American imperialism.



The story of a forgotten diplomatic excursion inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s bigotry.

Bradley (Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, 2003, etc.)—who wrote about his father’s experience at Iwo Jima in Flags of Our Fathers (2000)—examines a little-known effort by Roosevelt to manipulate the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War and extend the Monroe Doctrine to Asia by encouraging Japan to act as a proxy for the West. In the summer of 1905, a party that included Secretary of War William Taft and Roosevelt’s rebellious daughter Alice set sail on the ocean liner Manchuria to their Pacific destinations of Hawaii, Korea, Japan, China and the Philippines. At the time, the voyage captured the public imagination. However, Taft was charged with an agenda that included maintaining dominance over American territories—the protests of America’s Hawaiian and Filipino “wards” notwithstanding—and promoting Roosevelt’s dream of an “Open Door” in Asia. Bradley argues that the mission was a result of the president’s adherence to a crackpot philosophy of “Aryan” racial superiority. “Like many Americans,” he writes, “Roosevelt held dearly to a powerful myth that proclaimed the White Christian as the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder.” In Roosevelt’s mind, this excused American brutality in subduing Filipino insurgents, and it furthered his public image as a wise Western warrior. However, the president made a major intellectual blunder when he decided the Japanese could be considered “Honorary Aryans,” due to “the Japanese eagerness to emulate White Christian ways.” This, coupled with his contempt for the Chinese, Filipino and Hawaiian peoples, inspired him to play nation-builder, with disastrous consequences. Bradley asserts that Taft and Roosevelt violated the Constitution by offering Japan a secret deal, characterized as a “Monroe Doctrine for Asia.” Arguably, Japanese pique over America’s unwillingness to acknowledge this subterfuge fueled their expansionist dreams and pointed the way toward the Pearl Harbor attack.

A rueful, disturbing account of a regrettable period of American imperialism.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-00895-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2009

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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