First-rate history of American involvement in the Philippines, by the author of Vietnam: A History; Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution; and Southeast Asia. As Cory Aquino nears completion of her third year as Marcos' successor, Karnow provides a historical perspective to America's long relationship with the Philippines, that sprawling archipelago of disparate languages and cultures. He offers a neat summation of the past 350 years of Philippine history--first under Spain, then the US: "Three centuries in a Catholic convent and fifty years in Hollywood." The US-Philippine saga began during McKinley's administration. McKinley himself couldn't find the islands on a map, but some Americans dreamt of acquiring the archipelago, and their dream held sway. Karnow tears the mask away from some of our more cherished misconceptions. For example, what our history books have always referred to as "the Philippine Insurrection" was in actuality "an unalloyed American conquest of territory," in which 200,000 Filipinos were killed. Karnow presents a balanced picture overall, stating that the American performance vis-†-vis the Philippines "was neither as brilliant as their publicists claimed nor as bleak as their critics contended." Our failure, in the author's eyes, was in neglecting to establish an effective and impartial administration--as did Britain in India (yet Americans are held in considerably more respect by Filipinos than are the English by Indians). Sweeping history--and companion to a forthcoming PBS series--that leaves no stone unturned, sacrificing neither historical detail nor personal intensity.