On this trip, Taft concluded secret agreements in Roosevelt's name. In 2005, a century later, James Bradley traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's mission and discovered what had transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing, and Seoul.
©2009 James Bradley; (P)2009 Hachette
Bradley's sloppy so-called history is either revisionist history or cheap propaganda. It is page after page of deliberate truth bending, cherry-picked facts, inaccurate details, and out of context quotes. Its conclusions are not sustainable when contrasted to factual history. It was not worth my time and money.
Bradley has an agenda that is dishonestly left out of the publisher's summary. Early in the book you hear about white "Aryan" racism setting the theme for Western Civilization. Those who want to believe could easily come away from his discussion believing that America was founded on white "Aryan" racist principles instead of those of Judeo-Christian tradition. He suggests the founding fathers were white "Aryan" racists who set in motion American westward expansion because it was the destiny of the master race. Bradley over-uses the term "Aryans" throughout. The passages on the "Aryan American Army"; and "Aryan Admiral Dewey" challenged me to find the intestinal fortitude to continue reading.
This read like Bradley had a personal axe to grind with Theodore Roosevelt. He took every opportunity to be critical of Roosevelt. Negative information was frequently used without the context of relevant positive information. Professional historians don't succeed using the cherry picking methods used by Bradley. Those who have read much about Roosevelt will find this treatment grossly unbalanced.
This book is a continuous political rant. The writing is more at home in an extreme leftist blog or a juvenile freshman essay, but it continues for hundreds of pages. Don't waste your time.
Bradley presents a picture of 19th century Americans as racist imperialists. And nothing but racist imperialsts. While that description certainly has some truth, Bradley repeats the same charge over and over for such a long time that he loses credibility... and starts boring the listener to death. He does not try to conceal his disdain for the Anglo-Saxon Americans of the late 19th and early 20th century, characterising them as genocidal imperialists out to eradicate all other people from the earth with no redeeming qualities. This could have been an interesting tale, but the interminable and very biased preaching makes it very difficult take if you are a listener with a more balanced perspective. Even without the bias, the repetitive demagoguery just gets quite boring very quickly.
For an author known for excellent research he violates his own "let the facts" speak for themselves by adding biased condemnations such as Teddy's goons or Teddy's thugs. Clearly Teddy R was a racist but this should have been presented factually rather than through the filter of our current views on the evils of racism. It made all the historical ramifications appear to be solely race motivated as opposed to power hungry or empire creating. And what happened to the Imperial Cruise, hardly ten paragraphs even discussed Princess Alice and Taft's trip.
Rarely do I ever not finish a book, but I just couldn't take this one. A one-sided rant. No balance or context. The conclusions drawn are bizarre. A very anti-American leftist bent. Not even American missionaries are spared damnation by this author.
Discussion of the Philippines insurrection
Not a particular scene as much as the consequences that lay the history of WWII and the last half of the century.
I truly enjoyed the author's two previous efforts, so wondered how he went so far astray in this history with the basic facts. The entire book is written from a 21st century perspective and attitude, judging a 19th century man's, (Teddy Roosevelt), beliefs and actions. If that weren't bad enough, the author then cherry picked which beliefs and actions to present for his interpretations. All of this justification and rationalization is to support a hypotheses that in 1905, TR gave Taft the go ahead to behind the scenes, to abrogate a commercial treaty with a Korean government that ceased to exist in 1897. The hypotheses following is that Japan then invaded Korea, with TR's approval, thereby starting a domino effect - for both WWII and the Korean War in 1905. (This is the same theory which a minority opposition party in South Korea has espoused for years to prove that the United States can't be trusted if the North invades). That Revelation comes after much proof of how much of a racist and overall butthead TR really was. I'm not saying that the "social evolution" theories that the societies on both sides of the Atlantic took so near to their hearts, nor the proposition of Kipling's "white man's burden", hold a lot of water in the 21st century, but they surely did in the 19th. TR's desegregation of New York state public schools as governor is ignored, having Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House is omitted, his appointing of African-Americans to Federal positions and the appointment of the the first Jewish Cabinet member are all completely left out of a book that paints the most progressive president in US history as an opportunist bigot.
The other two leading characters in the book don't come out unclean either. Taft, the then Secretary of War, comes off as simply going through life to make his wife happy. Her dream job is that of First Lady. The other thread is 21 year old, Alice Roosevelt, TR's eldest daughter who accompanied Taft on the "imperial cruise", who comes off as a misunderstood brat. One of the primary reasons for sending Alice was so that all public attention focused on her, as she crossed the Pacific, while her father was hosting the Portsmouth peace negotiations between Japan and Russia, in relative privacy. The fact that Alice and her step-mother didn't get along is a well known fact, but there is much revisionist history here as to 'why' Alice turned out to be such a brat - it was all her parents' fault!
The narrator did a great job. He took the material and ran with it with great gusto. One of the reasons the book irked me so much was the good presentation of bad material!
Bradley vents his hatred of Roosevelt and Christianity unabashedly in this book. It feels like he is looking for a place to vent his venom for the Pacific Theater in WWII. This period of history is much more complex than he portrays it... and the bias is so obvious as to be funny at times. He tends to portray all empire building as Aryan and/or Christian in roots, which is frankly rubbish... one almost feels like he is one step from saying Roosevelt is like Hitler and America is like Nazi Germany in its following of the leadership.
A great 'listen' full of amazing aspects I was unaware of. I gave it to my wife I liked it so much.
I love when some of the hidden truth comes out about American history. We all learned the sanitized version of christian American history, when we were too young to think and question authority. Many of our presidents were incompetent to lead our nation, but the presidential bureaucracy like the Chinese Imperial bureaucracy enabled an arrogant and incompetent leader to lead the country into generational quicksand. Poison-Ivy league education, the curse of excessive wealth, and/or being born into a political dynasty has allow too many men in the US and around the world to step into positions of unlimited power where they cause suffering and death to millions of poor souls under their dominion.
I was unfortunately born a christian, but am in recovery. Christians have been the most arrogant and barbaric believers in history, killing, stealing, and torturing in the name of god.
America has two personalities and exports: democracy and faux christian/capitalism. like Jekyll and Hyde betraying those who trust them.
I look forward to reading more books that tell the truth about American history and our disgrace and ignorance.
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