A SHIP TO REMEMBER by Michael Blow


The Maine and the Spanish-American War
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 A popular history of the ship whose sinking propelled the US into the Spanish-American War--and into a new, uncomfortable role as an overseas empire. The Spanish-American War is usually recalled as an unexpectedly short and resounding conflict, brought on by atrocity stories about a demonic enemy--not unlike the Persian Gulf War. But was it really the ``splendid little war'' hailed by Secretary of State John Hay? Hardly. As chronicled dispassionately here by Blow, former book editor at Reader's Digest (and grandson of one of the Maine's 85 survivors), the conflict was messy and ambiguous for Americans from start to finish: The Maine explosion in February 1898 blamed on a Spanish mine despite lack of conclusive proof; an American army bedeviled by logistical difficulties, stifling heat, and disease; a commodore who almost let the enemy slip away at the battle of Santiago; and, in the wake of the peace settlement, a bloody, three-year insurrection by Filipinos against Americans who had exploited their help in overthrowing the Spanish. Fortunately, Spain responded with ineptitude, and when not dismissing the effectiveness of America's immigrant-filled navy, the Spanish were squandering their chance to break through the American blockade at Santiago. Blow narrates the events surrounding the Maine sinking and the controversial rush to war in the subsequent weeks through a gallery of participants, including Theodore Roosevelt (who asked reluctant hawk and Republican kingmaker Mark Hanna, ``Now, Senator, may we please have war?''), Admiral George Dewey, Winston Churchill, Frederic Remington, Clara Barton, William Randolph Hearst, Stephen Crane, and Richard Harding Davis. Not very incisive in analyzing the war's military significance, but highly colorful in depicting Americans in the blood-roar of nationalism. (B&w photos, maps--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-09714-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1992