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Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898

This isn’t the Teddy Roosevelt that you studied in high school. Teddy Roosevelt, you know the guy that said, “speak softly and carry a big stick” and called everything “Bully”. Teddy, was the Rough Rider that went on safari to Africa after his presidency, bringing back loads of game that are still stored in the Smithsonian. You see a completely different side to dear old Teddy in The War Lovers.

You see, T.R. was a product of his time and at that time, society and even most scientists still believed that all races were not equal. Both Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge regarded blacks as inferior, but they fought for them to get equal rights as citizens. Honorable for the time? Sure, but totally self-serving when it came to invading Cuba in 1898, which is the subject of this book.

Roosevelt, Lodge, & William Randolph Hearst were all after the same thing in 1898, freeing Cuba from Spain. The difference is that they were war crazy for different reasons and honestly, it is debatable whether any of their reasons were good for the future of America. Flying the flag of Manifest Destiny, these three concocted, finagled, went behind peoples backs, and just plain conned America into a period of Imperialism that really hasn’t ended to this day.

What’s amazing about The War Lovers was the interactions. The people knew how to talk with beautiful language, even when they are busy putting you in your place. Many of the quotes made me laugh out loud. It was so full of their words that it was like living history. It is what made the book special, the intimacy that Thomas develops by using letters back and forth to each other and speeches from the stump.

The book was shocking in its portrayal of Roosevelt. I was disgusted when I read his views on people of color until I really started to put it in the context of the day. That attitude was the norm, it would have been strange for him not to be a racist then.

Should you read it? Well, like I mentioned, the quotes made this book not only interesting, but entertaining. It was thought provoking and I couldn’t help compare that period to the time right before we invaded Iraq the second time. The whole country was stirring, we wanted revenge, we were arrogant enough to think that the people of Iraq rather have us rule than Sadaam. Only future historians will be able to responsibly judge us and I fear what their verdict will be.

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031600409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316004091

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