author: James Bradley
average rating: 3.47
book published: 2009
read at: 2010/03/03
date added: 2010/03/10
shelves: history, non-fiction, politics
Excellent book — uses the far east trip of (at the time Secretary of War) Taft and Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter Alice as a structure to talk about American involvements in Asia in the late 19th & early 20th century. It’s not pretty. Amazing use of primary sources to show the specific elements of racism and imperialism at work.
The author got interested in the subject after writing a book about his father’s experiences in WWII, and so a large portion is devoted to the Americans’ encouragement (development?) of imperial ambitions in Japan, and when push came to shove and the Japanese fought the Russians, how the Americans were quick to go back on whatever they’d said to the Japanese. He also makes the explicit connection — as the Japanese did — between the Monroe Doctrine in the Americas and the Japanese’s view of their dominance in Asia.
A similarly large section covers the Americans’ colonization of the Philippines (and Hawaii as well) — the same combination of confidence & naiveté that you see again in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. You’d think we could learn from the disasters of the past, but apparently not.