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Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War…

Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the…

by Gregg Jones

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This easy-to-read and intelligent nonfiction work focuses on the Spanish-American War with an emphasis on American behavior and abuses in the Philippines. I have read many books on Theodore Roosevelt, and while works on his early presidency mention the public relations disaster out of the Philippines, none went into detail. This one does. It's disturbing and thought-provoking.

Jones is a Pulitzer-Prize finalist journalist with years of firsthand experience in the Philippines. The events in his book took place over a hundred years ago but remain incredibly relevant today as the United States engages in war, holds prisoners, and confronts issues of confessions arising from torture. America entered the Philippines in 1898, boasting that it would save the benighted people from Spanish abuses... and within years, ended up doing many of the same things as the Spanish. The American takeover was fairly straightforward, but when the Americans allowed the Filipinos no representation (not even in the peace talks with Spain) and treated citizens as subhuman, a brutal guerilla war began. American soldiers and marines engaged in terrible acts, including "water cure" torture. War trials took place and the media and public were appalled by what happened, but the only soldier to really be punished was a whistleblower.

Roosevelt's role in everything was complicated, as he was a very complicated man. His pushed for an American empire abroad, one with high ideals, and his administration did whatever it could to cover up what really happened in the Far East. He didn't approve of brutal tactics but also excused what happened as part of war. At the same time, he was still a progressive who wanted to see American blacks treated as full citizens; he called out his critics who railed against him about actions in the Philippines, even as the United States dealt with horrible lynchings of blacks across the South.

I found this to be a fantastic book for my research, and one I think more people should read. It's part of American history that is almost entirely ignored due to its shameful nature, and as a country, we should face what happened and actively seek to do better. ( )
  ladycato | Apr 1, 2016 |
The book was a Goodreads.com First Read contest win.

Great book about the history of 2 separate wars America fought. The Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. This book even goes into detail about how Guantanamo was started. This author did his research very well. He included notes and a bibliography for each chapter of the book citing where he got the information. I was very impressed.

This is a great read for any one interested in war history.

The bunnies and I give this book4-Carrots. ( )
  kybunnies | Oct 19, 2014 |
If for the knowledgeable Operation Iraqi Freedom generated the spark of recognition of parallels with an earlier colonial war, with its mix of self-promotional bombast, protestations of good intentions, and the all-too-often ghastly results of an unwanted occupation, the author here doesn't have to invoke the previous decade once in this tale of America stepping onto the world stage as a major player to make his points; even if the rationales for 1898 and all that are more difficult to recapture now.

Rather more of a general study of the Spanish-American War and the follow-on conflict in the Philippines, the particular virtue Jones brings to his book is a better understanding and appreciation of the Filipino people then one usually sees in the standard accounts of the war. Jones also turns a more critical eye than is normal to the foibles of the American military leaders who directed operations, and not just the politicians who launched the war. I felt this was about the best overall narrative that I've read of this conflict, and I've read a lot of the modern studies that have come out in the last generation.

What surprises me somewhat is that there is actually less of Teddy Roosevelt in this book than I expected; again, this is much more of a general study of the period than the subtitle suggests. Though perhaps that is an additional illustration of Jones' observation of how Teddy sanitized the record of his personal feelings when the going got really rough. Also, Jones could have perhaps dealt a bit more with the notion that the United States reaching out for world empire was an exercise in re-union, which possibly explains why Roosevelt and his fellow imperialists found it relatively easy (at least in retrospect) to overcome public dissension when it became clear what a hard-handed war the U.S. was waging in the Philippines; few really wanted to break the golden moment of unity.

However, few also hungered for more imperial adventure the way that Teddy did, showing the ephemeral nature of the whole project; at least prior to America's rise to "globalism" after World War II. ( )
2 vote Shrike58 | Feb 1, 2013 |
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The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. - Abraham Lincoln
To Don and Betty Edmonds
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(Prologue) November 27, 1900I'm going to die.The terrifying realization seized the slight, middle-aged man as he lay pinned to the convent floor by two light-skinned soldiers.
As the battleship USS Maine steamed into Havana Harbor, Cuba, on a muggy January night, even the lowliest sailor could see that this would be no ordinary port call.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451229045, Hardcover)

On the eve of a new century, an up-and-coming Theodore Roosevelt set out to transform the U.S. into a major world power. The Spanish-American War would forever change America's standing in global affairs, and drive the young nation into its own imperial showdown in the Philippines.

From Admiral George Dewey's legendary naval victory in Manila Bay to the Rough Riders' heroic charge up San Juan Hill, from Roosevelt's rise to the presidency to charges of U.S. military misconduct in the Philippines, Honor in the Dust brilliantly captures an era brimming with American optimism and confidence as the nation expanded its influence abroad.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:21 -0400)

Describes the political events leading to and during the war in the Philippines, highlighting Theodore Roosevelt's role in initiating the war in order to claim an American empire in the Pacific.

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