Recently, I read The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire by Stephen Kinzer. It’s a nice book about the Spanish-American War that is very well written. It is written like a novel and you become entranced into the story. You forget that you are reading a history book.
The story at times seems to go by real slow, and very little, if any, ground breaking information is given. If you want some well researched ground breaking information regarding the Spanish-American war then you can listen to this podcast episode of the Tom Woods Show which unveils a lot of information. I had already listened to that podcast before I read the book, so I was disappointed to have no mention of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
That is largely forgiven as the topic of the book is not about the dubious ‘attack’ on the Maine which gave the US a reason to fight Spain. Rather, the book is about the imperialist arguments and the anti-imperialist arguments that were made at the time and their implication. The anti-imperialists were quite the odd bunch. Among their ranks included the titan of industry Andrew Carnegie, the labor leader (((Samuel Gompers))), populist and twice democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, author Mark Twain, and many other figures.
Despite several near victories for the anti-imperialists, the imperialists won each and every time. I wrote earlier about one here. America became an empire with the acquisition of the various remnants of the Spanish Empire.
The last chapter is another redeemable quality about the book. It shows how since America became an empire and colonization/imperialism/foreign policy became an acceptable and popular position, every president since then has intervened around the globe militarily in some way. Kinzer shows the effects of the Spanish-American war on the current US foreign policy and how the same problems of then exist now. When the US occupied the Philippines the natives rose up to fight the Americans. When the Americans invaded Afghanistan the same occurred.
I’d recommend the book if you have little knowledge about the Spanish-American war and or you wish to know about the debates between the anti-imperialists and imperialists of the time. Over all I’d rate the book a 7/10.