On February 15th, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. News of the blast quickly reached U.S. shores, where it was met by some not with alarm but great enthusiasm.
A powerful group of war lovers agitated that the United States exert its muscle across the seas. Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were influential politicians dismayed by the "closing" of the Western frontier. William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal falsely heralded that Spain's "secret infernal machine" had destroyed the battleship as Hearst himself saw great potential in whipping Americans into a frenzy. The Maine would provide the excuse they'd been waiting for.
On the other side were Roosevelt's former teacher, philosopher William James, and his friend and political ally, Thomas Reed, the powerful Speaker of the House. Both foresaw a disaster. At stake was not only sending troops to Cuba and the Philippines, Spain's sprawling colony on the other side of the world-but the friendships between these men.
Now, bestselling historian Evan Thomas brings us the full story of this monumental turning point in American history. Epic in scope and revelatory in detail, The War Lovers takes us from Boston mansions to the halls of Congress to the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of the Philippines. It is landmark work with an unforgettable cast of characters-and provocative relevance to today.
America acquired an empire in a fit of neurosis, according to this shrewd, caustic psychological interpretation of the Spanish-American War by well-known. Newsweek editor and bestselling author Thomas (Sea of Thunder). The book focuses on three leading war-mongers Teddy Roosevelt, his crony, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, whose fanciful New York Journal coverage of the Cuban insurrection and the sinking of the USS Maine fanned war hysteria. Ashamed of their fathers' failure to fight in the Civil War, according to Thomas, these righteous sons trumped up a pointless conflict with Spain as a test of manhood, conflating the personal with the national. To Thomas they represent an American ruling elite imbued with notions of Anglo-Saxon supremacy over alien races and lower orders, but anxious about its own monied softness. As foils, Thomas offers Thomas Brackett Reed, the antiwar speaker of the House, and philosopher William James, who advanced an ethic of moral courage against the Rooseveltian cult of physical aggression.Thomas's thesis is bold and will undoubtedly be controversial, but his protagonists make for rich psychological portraiture, and the book serves as an illuminating case study in the sociocultural underpinnings of American military adventurism. 45 b&w photos, 2 maps.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Good Read
A very good look at the men and events that led up to the Spanish-American War. Though the author does not dwell on the fact, I see eerie similarities between the actions described in this book and our most recent military conflict. Also, it is refreshing to see a point of view that acknowledges that there were other players in this conflict besides Roosevelt and Hearst. Well worth reading.
The War Lover
Smart conceit, compelling cast of characters, written with authority and clarity. Anyone who's read a lot about Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst will find himself reevaluating past impressions. William James provides a fascinating intellectual framework for the times, and Thomas Reed, the powerful Speaker of the House, struggles mightily against the bellicose passions of TR, his sidekick Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (who seems a tad overeager to prove his manhood), and Citizen Hearst, whose limp handshake, shy ways and envy of Roosevelt cast him in a less swashbuckling light than previous biographers. Thomas captures America just as it is coming of age, and he finds a gangly teenager who's been struggling to come to grips with his own strength ever since. He has produced one of those rare works of history that truly illuminates the present moment.
Really absolute crap.