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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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