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The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

COMPELLING GRIPPING FASCINATING FACTUAL IMPORTANT ASTOUNDING SHOCKING

I hate to admit that it has been several years since I have read through a book, cover to cover - non-stop, but I not only did that with Imperial Cruise, but I read it a second time. I have brought it around with me on a Thanksgiving trip and am sharing it with people, ...
I hate to admit that it has been several years since I have read through a book, cover to cover - non-stop, but I not only did that with Imperial Cruise, but I read it a second time. I have brought it around with me on a Thanksgiving trip and am sharing it with people, I am buying several for Christmas presents and got my local bookseller interested in it and they're going to carry it. Imperial Cruise is a riveting narrative non-fiction, it is recovered history, and it is as relevant to understanding contemporary American-Asian foreign policy as would be any State Department background briefing. It is also, I think, a "new" type of history that does not rely on some magic cache of a previously undiscovered trunk of letters. Instead, it gathers together for the first time bits and stray strands of material which is already available in archives and libraries - that has been studiously ignored or misperceived to be merely errant oddities. Like a wise attorney, Bradley assembles all the pieces in place, to not only make sense if a complicated puzzle but to also provide an unblinkingly factual context.

Imperial Cruise also proves just how consciously and vividly Theodore Roosevelt crafted and manipulated his public image. Some of Roosevelt's own words on white supremacy in Imperial Cruise are shocking as I've read them here for the first time, without the excisions made by earlier biographers and historians whose intention was to only glorify the legendary Rough Rider. I think people will be mistaken, however, if they take it as a wholesale degradation of T.R. It presents a darker human side of him, that will counterbalance, for example, his intentions to ensure safe food and drug standards and preserve natural environments for the masses, regardless of their race, as well as his advocacy for a more equitable society which he freshly espoused as the Progressive Party leader during the 1912 election. I am surprised to learn the extent to which Taft was compliant in all this, particularly in light of his genuinely enlightened words and deeds against anti-Semites and bigots. I hate to say it, but the book leaves one feeling that politics - in North America, Asia, anywhere, is a business more often driven by greed and ambition than altruism and generosity.

Finally, all of this "information" may never have been read by me had the quality of the writing not been so fluid and compelling. Even if one isn't necessarily interested in U.S. foreign policy, they will find Imperial Cruise to be a solid story, an adventure tale with a cautionary arc as its backbone. Bradley's decision to tell all of this against the ports of call on the historic voyage to Asia of the first American celebrity of the 20th century, presidential daughter Alice "Princess" Roosevelt, gives it a human dimension. And then, when one finishes it, one recognizes an implicit irony. There seems no more chilling evidence of Theodore Roosevelt's belief that some humans were more worthy than others than in the way he treated his own flesh and blood. Poignantly told by Bradley, Roosevelt emotionally strangulated his daughter Alice, who always loved him.

Carl Sferrazza Anthony, author of Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era; America's First Families; The Kennedy White House; Florence Harding: The First Lady...and the Death of America's Most Scandalous President; First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents' Wives; As We Reme

posted by Carl_Anthony on November 27, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

Extremely biased account

While I am acutely aware of American racial bias during the period this book covers, Bradley's strident account and historical inaccuracies leave much to be desired. His writing is certainly fluid and easy to digest but, undocumented statistics in particular, make me su...
While I am acutely aware of American racial bias during the period this book covers, Bradley's strident account and historical inaccuracies leave much to be desired. His writing is certainly fluid and easy to digest but, undocumented statistics in particular, make me suspicious that many of his quotes may have been taken out of context. An example might certainly be Stanford's remark concerning the Chinese and completion of the transcontinental railroad.

As to the statistics: several that come to mind include 1) the Philippine exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis Fair made up about 10% of the total fairgrounds, 2) total attendance was about 20 million not 90, 3) Japanese casualties in the Russo-Japanese War were about 106,000 killed not hundreds of thousands (twice as many as Russia incidentally).

Giving short shrift to the Boxer Rebellion was annoying and should have been included in Chapter 7. Also the lack of a formal bibliography was rather astounding. Not making use of Iris Chang's "The Chinese in America"
in discussing American immigration policy and hostility toward this segment of the population may be because it isn't strident enough for his agenda.

The fact that Bradley is not a professional historian is no excuse for these glaring errors.

Overall,however, this was an interesting and worthwhile read but should be taken with a large grain of salt.

posted by 1106189 on December 18, 2009

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    WAS TEDDY ROOSEVELT RESPONSIBLE FOR WWII?

    The premise of this book is that US foreign policy at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century was one of the major causes of WWII, and that it was was rooted in racism. The racial superiority theme is thumped home by the author's tendentious repetition of the charge that the American "Aryans" (as he labels them) were bent on pushing "Christian civilization" on Asian cultures (China, Korea, the Philippines). The defacto US alliance with Japan, cemented by Theodore Roosevelt's midwifing of the end of the Russo-Japanese War, does not neatly fit the author's conspiracy among "Aryans" to dominate East Asia, so the author creates the category of "Honorary Aryan" to make Japan fit his rhetorical Procrustean bed.

    Using the provocative and emotionally-charged theme of racial superiority to link the US historically to Nazi Germany, the author sets out to prove that TR's strong tilt toward Japan was a root cause of the rise of Japanese imperialism a quarter century later, and thus was a major contributing factor to WWII. This theory ignores the many intervening events that led to Pearl Harbor, and, in effect, faults TR for lacking the powers of prophecy. Thus, despite the author's efforts, he fails to make a convincing case.

    The author does usefully expose many sordid details of US policy in East Asia in the decade following the Spanish-American War, particularly the brutal suppression of the Philippine Insurrection. Yet he does not break any new ground, and the story is told without balance, perspective or historical context.

    The book includes a number of obvious errors, such as claiming that Panama was severed from Venezuela, rather than Colombia, as any high school student knows (or should know), and as any casual glance at a globe would reveal. There is also opinion masquerading as fact, such as the author's assertion that the Cuban natives could have expelled their Spanish masters in 1898 without a US invasion. That may well be true, but no source is given, so we are left to ponder its provenance.

    In summary, this book is more polemic than history. It will appeal mostly to those who are given to a view of history in which all is explained by blaming America first.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Awful - Don't Waste Your Time & Money

    A horrible, sloppy one-sided account of American history giftwrapped for those who love to hate America - that's the only way I can describe this book. Page after page of ranting about the United States and it's "racist warmongering" and it's policies of self-interest. The lamb taken to the altar is President Theodore Roosevelt and from the way that Bradley writes his narrative you would think the man raped his great grandmother or something. It's just awful and doesn't even come close to an impartial account of events that transpired over a hundred years ago.

    You can't use today's morality to judge people from an entirely different era - especially if the behavior you are judging was being practiced by every developed nation around the world at the time. Despite Mr. Bradley's rant, Teddy Roosevelt & America certainly didn't hold the monopoly on racism in the early 1900s. Before the 21st century and the ability for people to interact globally like we do today, all countries of the world used race as a method of conjuring up martial spirit. You can go to the beginning of recorded history to find this, yet Bradley ignores that and goes on like Teddy Roosevelt was the 19th Century Heinrich Himmler or something.

    Save your money...I wouldn't even use the pages of this book to line the bottom of my parakeet's cage.

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    disappointing

    after reading flags of our fathers, this book was a major disappointment.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2010

    Avoid This Book Unless You Like Revisionist History

    This book was terrible!!! Poorly written, VERY left-leaning... LOTS of opinion with a definite agenda of running down America.... Actually the title and the cover premise were misleading as to what a majority of the book was about... A hundred years of blaming America, and Teddy Roosevelt, for everything bad that happened in Asia and the Pacific.... The "author" is a hack who's only qualification to write anything was that his father was unfortunate enough to be on Iwo Jima and helped raise the flag....

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    great story

    well written and entertaining worth a look for certain

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

    Half-truths and outright deceit

    Mr. Bradley is capitalizing on not only his own fame, but also his father's fame as one of the flag-raisers at Iwo Jimo to peddle this book as a scholarly work that blames Teddy Roosevelt and Taft for not only WWII, but seemingly all other problems in Asia, notably the Korean peninsula. By using such charged language as "Aryan Americans," he is clearly trying to get the reader to associate Roosevelt and Taft with the ideals that Hitler popularized in Germany during the 1930s and 40s.

    What he claims as fact are politically charged newspaper and periodical articles in a time when such institutions were blatant in their political leanings and posters that are borderline propaganda. He also uses quotes and other facts that are taken out of context to back up his position which seems to be nestled in the leftist America-bashing camp. The telling history should attempt to be as unbiased as possible to create a clear picture of events, something that Mr. Bradley is clearly unable to do.

    For those history buffs that have read extensively about the period in question, skip this book as it will do nothing but incense you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Incredibly brave and insightful description of US Imperial diplomacy.

    As can be seen from the majority of reviews posted here, this book will be very difficult for most Americans to read. The Imperial Cruise tells the truth about US imperial ambitions, US foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries related to the Pacific theater, and the marriage of American racism with American missionary religion and capitalism. Plain and simple, this isn't the history that we're taught in school. And the truth hurts, clearly.
    For those who are interested in the truth, for those who agree that a clear understanding of facts is the only basis from which real progress can be made, and for those who use our past failings as a rallying cry to improve our future endeavors, this is a must read.
    For those who want to keep their heads in the sand, filled with flag-waving drum-beating lies ... exit, stage right.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    So happy it was over...couldn't stand it anymore!!

    I thought this book was amateurish, disjointed, and very, very lacking in any historical depth at all. Bradley takes one brief period of Western relations with Asia and boldly directs blame for WWII (35 years after the book's period) and all future American-Asian tension on Roosevelt, as if there were no other contributing factors. Interesting thesis, but a book seriously attempting to prove it would be a little longer than 300 pages, and absolutely have more historical data than a few lifted quotations from Roosevelt biographers. 3rd and last read of Bradley for me, every time he gets a little worse. This is my first rating, this book made me so mad I felt compelled to write. Skip this one please.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    very enlightening and provocative

    This book hits hard since I am a Filipino by birth and my father was a WW2 Veteran. Maybe he didn't have to go thru all that, as well as thousands of other Filipinos, if Teddy Roosevelt didn't think of himself as the White savior of the world.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Imperial Cruise is a ship worth taking!

    I enjoyed The Imperial Cruise. As a History major I found it well written and enlightening. The T Roosevelt years were not one of my specialties as an ungrad, and I found the information both informative and stimulating

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    I've been robbed

    Mr. Brady cashed in on his two previous books to sell this terrible stinker. It's a diatribe, but not a good one. It's internally inconsistent, based on questionable research, and it treats the author's silly assertions as fact.

    Example - Was the Japanese goverment niave or canny? Mr. Brady claims both.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    Teddy Roosevelt's actions set the stage for World War 2 in the Pacific

    The author enlightens the reader on events, many of which were related to Teddy Roosevelt, that set the stage for Pearl Harbor and our battle with Japan in World War 2. The average reader with only a superficial knowledge of Teddy Roosevelt will never thing of him in the same light.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Teddy Roosevelt a fraud?

    James Bradely has done it again. He has provided the reader with the very insightful & thought provoking look at late 19th, early 20th century politics and how the US ultimately entered WWII with Japan.

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to further explore American history like you never learned in school.

    Rick

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    This is a muckraking account of Teddy Roosevelt and the United States leaders of the early 20th Century. Apparently the author is intent on labeling all American leaders as racist, white supremacists.

    The book is a rant about Aryans thoughts entering in to every facet of leadership and power in the United States from its beginning through WWII.

    The author dredges up Indian wars and other activities to support his view that the policies and views of American leadership were based on Aryan and white supremacist theories.

    Teddy Roosevelt who is revered by most Americans as a hero, is treated as a deceitful cold character, bent on war at every turn and conquest and subjugation of any non-white peoples of places that either were US territories or ceded to the US after a war.

    There are numerous declarations by the author without supporting documentation. Apparently his conclusions regarding situations which don't square with other historical references are supposed to be believed at face value.

    While there certainly were racist policies and a sense of entitlement (manifest destiny) that our ancestors had, it would be appropriate to judge people in the context of their time of existence. This author apparently does not understand context at all.

    This was a truly awful book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An eye opener for T.R. fans and history buffs

    My country right or wrong? This book answers the question of why the United States isn't loved around the world like we have all thought we were. It sets the stage for Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific theatre. Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. I had read Bradley's "Flags of our Fathers" and enjoyed it. I bought "Flyboys" when it first came out but never read it. After reading "Imperial Cruise", Flyboys will be my next read. Bradley's writing style makes history easy to read.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Only History that's new it that you don't know!

    I stumbled upon the reviews of "The Imperial Cruise" and found that a great many of them give a misleading negative description of the book. I read James Bradley's other two books and found this one to be in line with the progression of his detailed research. One reviewer states that "T. Roosevelt was the first US President to entertain a black at the White House (Booker T. Washington, October 16, 1901.)" In "Team of Rivals" Frederick Douglass paid visits to Lincoln in the White house. I'm not an academic historian just a middle class guy who has always been interested in US history. I'm open minded enough to believe past government policies and actions were not really as clean as what we were taught in school. Credit should be given any author giving us more details to our very Complex past. I'm the direct descendant of a "Salem Witch" and Col. Harmon who lead a bloody attack on Maine's Abenaki village and their French Jesuit Priest. (Read Mary R. Calvert's "Dawn Over the Kennebec"). These were two dark periods in our long history. Each side had their own narrow view of the times. Things are not always easy to stuff into a box. Bradley does a good job making us see a view from those living in another time and connecting the dots between generations. When I read the reviews with a very pointed tone I wonder who really has the axe to grind. Bradley's writing is far less opinionated than Joseph Ellis, Edmund Morris, or David Halberstam. He's more of a history reporter like David McCullough, Doris Kerns Goodwin, or Carlo D' Estes. If you want the over simplified cleaned up pop version of US history see who Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck recommend.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    Do our leaders read or understand the constitution?

    One of my first thoughts after completing the Imperial Cruise was to question do our presidents ever read the single line in our constitution
    that states "All men are created equal with certain rights". When they accepted the office they swore to support, protect, and defend this our most precious historic document. Apparently the creators of the document that we hold dear to our freedom was not meant to provide guidence to those that pursue a government leadership role.

    The research that Mr. Bradley compiled and presented in this publication would lead the reader to beleive that the pursuit of individual goals by those chosen to lead this country takes precedent over all issues.

    I'm sure that in light of todays political power Mr. Roosevelt would
    perhaps have a change of heart.

    My views of the 1900 to 1950s has forever been altered as a result of
    reading The Imperial Cruise.

    Hopefully, it will be read by those that assume the most powerful roles in our government and they chose to support the US Constitution and abide by the wisdom of our founding fathers.

    Thanks to Mr. Bradley we now have a clearer picture for many of this nations constant conflicts with other countries.

    Not to mention that the information was well presented as both enlighting
    entertaining.

    Thank you James

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2010

    disappointing

    a one trick pony

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Poorly Researched, One-sided, PC Revision of American History

    In addition to the author peppering conclusions from "modern day scholars" throughout the book, several supposed facts were voiced opinions of politicians and journalists of the time who were in opposition to Roosevelt. Newspapers were a joke back then (even by today's standards) and were more like soap boxes forwarding their adopted political agendas. Yet the author repeatedly uses newspaper headlines and political speeches taken out of context to make his points.

    From Bradley's wording throughout the the book, the reader gets a feeling of seething animosity and anger towards early 20th century America. The venom was so thick at times that I had to literally put the book down and return to it later. Bradley was clearly offended by the history of American expansionism and early 20th century racial morality, but he fails to put it in the perspective of common social behavior during that era. Most Americans then were rural farmers with no experiences of the world as we have today. Roosevelt merely reflected the culture and understandings Americans had of themselves at that time. Even so, contrary to what I can only describe as the author's amazing fantasy, the American people of the early 1900s were not hell-bent on exterminating all the non-whites from here to the caucuses (p.29, paragraph three). Their racial beliefs back then were ignorant yes, but they were not uniquely so.

    It seemed to me from the opening of the first pages that Bradley had a point to make (which was mostly a hatchet job on TR) and sought to find the facts that would match his pre-determined conclusion, which is fine for a novel but not so much for nonfiction.

    For a more honest and well written account of American imperialism during the turn of the 20th century I would point to BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION by Stuart Creighton Miller. Miller is completely factual about the ugly side of America's approach in the Pacific during the Philippine-American War and his work is written without a politically-correct axe to grind.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Changed my view of america

    Singelhandedly changed my view of america more than 24years of svjooling

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