THE INCREDIBLE GREAT WHITE FLEET by Samuel III Carter

THE INCREDIBLE GREAT WHITE FLEET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1907 Teddy Roosevelt sent forth sixteen white battleships to impress the world with American sea power; he had had the idea since the Japanese naval victory over Russia in 1905 and a war scare stemming from friction with Japan provided the excuse. In reality -- and in Robert A. Hart's ""excellent"" (the bibliography) 1967 Great White Fleet -- this sizable undertaking was a big stunt that lost more than it gained and justified itself only as a technical achievement: Mr. Carter, however, would have it both momentous and successful (otherwise why a juvenile?). Citing instances of hysteria and ignoring concurrent conciliatory moves, he avers that ""in world opinion, war between Japan and the United States wax a foregone conclusion."" To this end, too, he revives the ""Yellow Peril"" without a mitigating perspective and fails to resolve, as T.R. had, the problem of Japanese exclusion from San Francisco schools. Besides, battleships were synonymous with glory: didn't Henry Wadsworth Longfellow say that ""A great battleship is the noblest work of man""? (He didn't -- the quote, found in Hart, is traced to Alice Roosevelt Longworth's autobiography.) The cruise was indeed The Greatest Show on Earth and Hart presents it as such without ignoring its domestic or international ramifications; the occasional interested young person will find him more entertaining and informative (typically, while Carter mentions that the appellation ""white"" came later, Hart tells why: thereafter ships were painted battleship gray) and much more to be believed.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Crowell-Collier