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The Imperial Cruise

A Secret History of Empire and War
Narrated by: Richard Poe
Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (198 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft on the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in history to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea. Roosevelt's glamorous 21-year-old daughter, Alice, served as mistress of the cruise, which included senators and congressmen.

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

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Tiresome

As a historian and history lover, this book was difficult to finish. There is no doubt that Roosevelt was a man of his time with the notions of race, etc. that many men of his own race, and more particularly his own class held. The author's view and modern notions make it tedious to slog through the story, though I do not dispute the facts that the author presents in the book. Since I was largely aware of the US depredations against the Filipinos over 100 years ago, and find it a dark, typically unknown chapter of US history, he lays blame on the US for Pearl Harbor.

When we do this with history, we might as well blame the Jutes and Scandinavian viking tribes for their rape and pillage of what became England, since that caused their decendants to start on their racists colonization project.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bradley is showing excellent promise was historian

If you could sum up The Imperial Cruise in three words, what would they be?

Thought provoking

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Imperial Cruise?

Discussion of the Philippines insurrection

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not a particular scene as much as the consequences that lay the history of WWII and the last half of the century.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

What Secret? This book?

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!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Demagoguery and repetition

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.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Over the Top - Why did I waste my time?

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.

25 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Biased Writing

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.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

understanding our relationship to the Asian world.

Loved it? No. But reading this book helps in understanding the mindset of those leaders and opportunists who would drag us, through lies, misdirecton and propoganda into conflicts on the far side of the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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provocative

I have read all of James Bradley's books and this one was different than the rest of them instead of telling his story cool story he provides a lot of opinion I don't believe his opinion as is as good as his research in this particular book and as per trails are a little bit on the side of this logical fallacy of a straw man argument but while he makes no attempt to represent both sides of the story the one side he is telling his so original that I highly recommend this book if nothing else to trouble you

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

a rant

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.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Misleading

This book is more about the authors' distaste of Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Taft than the eponymous cruise, which only appears briefly though the fogs of the authors' screeds. It isn't that the story he *does* tell isn't worth telling, as most may not be aware of the actual history, but it is the voice he uses to tell it that greatly diminishes it.
The constant, overbearing-childish-manner he uses nicknames (Big Bill, Princess Alice. Honorary Aryans...) as instruments of insult and derogation are something you expect to hear from a grade school playground or, apparently, the current crop of politicians we are now saddled with. This is not acceptable in a work purporting to be scholarly, rather it is churlish and unseemly.
To put into print imaginary thoughts of the subjects as though truths is a gross miscarriage of the responsibility of the author. It is something one would expect to read in a high school essay assignment, not in a a scholarly expose.
This may well be hard for many Americans to read, if unaware of our checkered political past. However, the inference and latent comparison of American Nazism, is far beyond the pale. His use of 'White Christian' and 'Aryan' which feels used more than in Mein Kampf is distasteful.
I cannot fully express my disappointment.