The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

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by Evan Thomas
     
 

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On February 15th, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. News of the blast quickly reached U.S. shores, where it was met by some not with alarm but great enthusiasm.

A powerful group of war lovers agitated that the United States exert its muscle across the seas. Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot LodgeSee more details below

Overview

On February 15th, 1898, the American ship USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. News of the blast quickly reached U.S. shores, where it was met by some not with alarm but great enthusiasm.

A powerful group of war lovers agitated that the United States exert its muscle across the seas. Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were influential politicians dismayed by the "closing" of the Western frontier. William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal falsely heralded that Spain's "secret infernal machine" had destroyed the battleship as Hearst himself saw great potential in whipping Americans into a frenzy. The Maine would provide the excuse they'd been waiting for.

On the other side were Roosevelt's former teacher, philosopher William James, and his friend and political ally, Thomas Reed, the powerful Speaker of the House. Both foresaw a disaster. At stake was not only sending troops to Cuba and the Philippines, Spain's sprawling colony on the other side of the world-but the friendships between these men.

Now, bestselling historian Evan Thomas brings us the full story of this monumental turning point in American history. Epic in scope and revelatory in detail, The War Lovers takes us from Boston mansions to the halls of Congress to the beaches of Cuba and the jungles of the Philippines. It is landmark work with an unforgettable cast of characters-and provocative relevance to today.

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Editorial Reviews

Ronald Steel
In his absorbing narrative of men who found duty or fulfillment or personal meaning in a war for empire—and of other men, like William James, who feared that such a quest would rot the nation's soul—Thomas has illuminated, in a compulsively readable style, a critical moment in American history. This is a book that, with its style and panache, is hard to forget and hard to put down.
—The New York Times
James McGrath Morris
Using a skill honed in several of his previous books…Thomas builds his narrative around a group of men…The scheme reenergizes a well-trod story and, more important, delivers revealing insights into the minds of the advocates…Thomas has delivered an innovative, frequently entertaining and valuable retelling of an episode that set the pattern for more than a century of foreign military adventurism. This timely book is a cautionary tale about how the psyche of powerful and ambitious leaders may matter more than fact—or even truth—when the question of war arises.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
America acquired an empire in a fit of neurosis, according to this shrewd, caustic psychological interpretation of the Spanish-American War by well-known. Newsweek editor and bestselling author Thomas (Sea of Thunder). The book focuses on three leading war-mongers—Teddy Roosevelt, his crony, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, whose fanciful New York Journal coverage of the Cuban insurrection and the sinking of the USS Maine fanned war hysteria. Ashamed of their fathers’ failure to fight in the Civil War, according to Thomas, these righteous sons trumped up a pointless conflict with Spain as a test of manhood, conflating the personal with the national. To Thomas they represent an American ruling elite imbued with notions of Anglo-Saxon supremacy over alien races and lower orders, but anxious about its own monied softness. As foils, Thomas offers Thomas Brackett Reed, the antiwar speaker of the House, and philosopher William James, who advanced an ethic of moral courage against the Rooseveltian cult of physical aggression.Thomas’s thesis is bold and will undoubtedly be controversial, but his protagonists make for rich psychological portraiture, and the book serves as an illuminating case study in the sociocultural underpinnings of American military adventurism. 45 b&w photos, 2 maps. (Apr. 27)
Library Journal
Rather than provide a strict history of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Thomas (asst. managing editor, Newsweek; Sea of Thunder) focuses on a half-dozen major players, including two who opposed it. Thomas has done yeoman research on America's first war after the Civil War (with the underlying influence of that war on the men in this story a leitmotif). The personal and political relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge takes up much space. A third character is media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who stirred popular war support through his yellow journalism. The main foil to these three imperialists was the powerful speaker of the house, Thomas Reed, who was eventually doomed by the frenzy that Hearst and others had whipped up. William James, the philosopher, and William McKinley were the proverbial men caught in the middle—James ambivalent about action heroes and war and McKinley a typical politician who caved to public opinion. VERDICT While most Spanish-American War histories focus on the military angle, this engaging book humanizes the conflict by also providing useful insights regarding the political and academic leaders of the time, allowing the war to resonate with later American adventures abroad and with the dilemma of reconciling American ideals with a new global world. Highly recommended.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
A dynamic examination of America's rush into the Spanish-American War. On Feb. 15, 1898, a mysterious explosion destroyed the U.S.S. Maine off the coast of Cuba, killing more than 250 American crewmen. Though the cause is still unknown, many in the United States, including some powerful political figures, wanted a war-even one waged on false pretenses. Longtime Newsweek editor Thomas (Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945, 2006, etc.) focuses on three men who were especially eager: Theodore Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley; Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and Roosevelt's close friend; and William Randolph Hearst, the wealthy publisher. The author ably sketches the personalities of all three men and the hawkish beliefs that they, and a large part of the American public, shared. They saw the United States as the world's protector, a nation that had a moral right to intervene in other countries' affairs, or even seize other countries' territory. Thomas also profiles two major dissenters: the powerful, dovish Speaker of the House Thomas Reed, who lost his best friend in the Civil War, and philosopher William James, who viewed the country's policy of foreign conquest as a betrayal of the American value of self-determination. The author goes beyond politics as well, delving into the psychology of his principals. Roosevelt's preoccupation with violence and physical toughness were certainly related to his warlike policies; Lodge's reserved manner disguised a fierce determination; Hearst's hawkishness seemed inextricably linked to his desire to boost circulation numbers. Thomaswisely keeps these engaging figures front and center, and his multifaceted portraits lend the book a sweeping, almost cinematic quality. A lively, well-rounded look at politics and personalities in late-19th-century America. Agent: Amanda Urban/ICM
Tina Jordan
What can Theodore Roosevelt teach us about President George W. Bush and the post-9/11 thirst for war? Plenty, says Evan Thomas in this finely crafted book about the Gilded Age, when America's desire for empire building fueled the Spanish-American War. A
Entertainment Weekly
David C. Acheson
This very interesting book, well written, with vivid description, personality portraiture and excellent historical depth, has several dimensions...The War Lovers sets us to thinking about these larger aspects of the war with Spain at a time when Iraq and Afghanistan have made our minds receptive.
The Washington Times
Drew DeSilver
[Thomas] generally (and wisely) leaves it to the reader to draw parallels between the two wars. Those parallels are striking: As both conflicts demonstrate, even a short, militarily successful war has the power to make or break careers, wreck old friendships and change the course of a nation's history.
Seattle Times
Steve Weinberg
Thomas takes some risks in his biography of Theodore Roosevelt and his cohorts, trying to get not just inside their actions, but inside their heads. The result is an intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Bob Hoover
[Thomas's] insights into Lodge...and Reed...are a fresh and fascinating view of American politics....[The War Lovers is] a subtle, nuanced history of the country and its leaders as they entered the 20th century.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
W.M. Akers
A rollicking account of the build-up to the Spanish-American War...the pace is breathless, and a glance at the introduction had us hooked.
The New York Observer
Claude R. Marx
Thomas's historical analogies help bring the past to life....[Thomas] is a masterful writer and analyst and those skills make reading The War Lovers an eminently worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
The Boston Globe
Jon Rosenberg
[Evan Thomas] engagingly conveys what happened in this consequential period....Thomas offers an action-packed narrative replete with vivid descriptions of key events and deft character sketches.
Christian Science Monitor
Walter Isaacson
What causes the eternal pull of war on men? It's one of history's most important questions. Evan Thomas provides fascinating insights in this gripping narrative of America's rush to war in 1898. With a colorful cast of characters led by Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst, it's a tale filled with lessons for today.
author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Jon Meacham
No biographer at work today has a surer feel for the human dimension of history than Evan Thomas...The War Lovers is as good as popular history gets.
author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
Michael Beschloss
Evan Thomas is a national resource, and this utterly compelling book reminds us why. In The War Lovers, he takes a crucial historical moment, shows its importance to our own time and recreates its main characters with such insight and blazing color that they seem as if they are alive today. Most of all, Thomas's book suggests vital lessons for our generation of American leaders and citizens to take very seriously as we confront some of the same public challenges that faced Theodore Roosevelt and his contemporaries.
author of The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945
Jay Winik
In The War Lovers, a masterful book with uncanny resonance for today's challenges, Evan Thomas provides a haunting case study of how America cascaded into war in 1898. In his trademark prose, we vividly see the human dimension of the ineluctable push and pull of war, not to mention a poignant story of friendships ripped apart and a nation torn at the seams. This work is a triumph.
author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
Geoffrey C. Ward
The War Lovers is a vivid, fast-paced and irreverent look at an era most Americans would just as soon overlook. It is also a multiple portrait of some fascinating Americans, but inevitably its central figure is the young Theodore Roosevelt, portrayed with all his eloquence and energy, absurdity and raw aggression.
author of A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt
The Economist
"The War Lovers provides an excellent account of how America's declaration of war after the blowing up of the Maine hastened the demise of the once mighty Spanish empire, and of how within a year Spain had lost the Philippines as well as Puerto Rico and Guam."
James McGrath Morris - The Washington Post
"Thomas has delivered an innovative, frequently entertaining and valuable retelling of an episode that set the pattern for more than a century of foreign military adventurism. This timely book is a cautionary tale about how the psyche of powerful and ambitious leaders may matter more than fact-or even truth-when the question of war arises."
Ronald Steel - New York Times Book Review
PRAISE FOR THE WAR LOVERS:

"In his absorbing narrative of men who found duty or fulfillment or personal meaning in a war for empire-and of other men, like William James, who feared that such a quest would rot the nation's soul-Thomas has illuminated, in a compulsively readable style, a critical moment in American history. This is a book that, with its style and panache, is hard to forget and hard to put down."

David C. Acheson - The Washington Times
"This very interesting book, well written, with vivid description, personality portraiture and excellent historical depth, has several dimensions...The War Lovers sets us to thinking about these larger aspects of the war with Spain at a time when Iraq and Afghanistan have made our minds receptive."
Tina Jordan - Entertainment Weekly
"What can Theodore Roosevelt teach us about President George W. Bush and the post-9/11 thirst for war? Plenty, says Evan Thomas in this finely crafted book about the Gilded Age, when America's desire for empire building fueled the Spanish-American War. A"
Drew DeSilver - Seattle Times
"[Thomas] generally (and wisely) leaves it to the reader to draw parallels between the two wars. Those parallels are striking: As both conflicts demonstrate, even a short, militarily successful war has the power to make or break careers, wreck old friendships and change the course of a nation's history."
Steve Weinberg - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Thomas takes some risks in his biography of Theodore Roosevelt and his cohorts, trying to get not just inside their actions, but inside their heads. The result is an intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men."
Jon Rosenberg - Christian Science Monitor
"[Evan Thomas] engagingly conveys what happened in this consequential period....Thomas offers an action-packed narrative replete with vivid descriptions of key events and deft character sketches."
Bob Hoover - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"[Thomas's] insights into Lodge...and Reed...are a fresh and fascinating view of American politics....[The War Lovers is] a subtle, nuanced history of the country and its leaders as they entered the 20th century."
Claude R. Marx - The Boston Globe
"Thomas's historical analogies help bring the past to life....[Thomas] is a masterful writer and analyst and those skills make reading The War Lovers an eminently worthwhile and enjoyable experience."
W.M. Akers - The New York Observer
"A rollicking account of the build-up to the Spanish-American War...the pace is breathless, and a glance at the introduction had us hooked."
Walter Isaacson - author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
"What causes the eternal pull of war on men? It's one of history's most important questions. Evan Thomas provides fascinating insights in this gripping narrative of America's rush to war in 1898. With a colorful cast of characters led by Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst, it's a tale filled with lessons for today."
Jon Meacham - author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
"No biographer at work today has a surer feel for the human dimension of history than Evan Thomas...The War Lovers is as good as popular history gets."
Jay Winik - author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
"In The War Lovers, a masterful book with uncanny resonance for today's challenges, Evan Thomas provides a haunting case study of how America cascaded into war in 1898. In his trademark prose, we vividly see the human dimension of the ineluctable push and pull of war, not to mention a poignant story of friendships ripped apart and a nation torn at the seams. This work is a triumph."
Geoffrey C. Ward - author of A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt
"The War Lovers is a vivid, fast-paced and irreverent look at an era most Americans would just as soon overlook. It is also a multiple portrait of some fascinating Americans, but inevitably its central figure is the young Theodore Roosevelt, portrayed with all his eloquence and energy, absurdity and raw aggression."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE WAR LOVERS: "

In his absorbing narrative of men who found duty or fulfillment or personal meaning in a war for empire-and of other men, like William James, who feared that such a quest would rot the nation's soul-Thomas has illuminated, in a compulsively readable style, a critical moment in American history. This is a book that, with its style and panache, is hard to forget and hard to put down."—Ronald Steel, New York Times Book Review"

Thomas has delivered an innovative, frequently entertaining and valuable retelling of an episode that set the pattern for more than a century of foreign military adventurism. This timely book is a cautionary tale about how the psyche of powerful and ambitious leaders may matter more than fact-or even truth-when the question of war arises."—James McGrath Morris, The Washington Post"

Thomas takes some risks in his biography of Theodore Roosevelt and his cohorts, trying to get not just inside their actions, but inside their heads. The result is an intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men."—Steve Weinberg, Minneapolis Star Tribune"

No biographer at work today has a surer feel for the human dimension of history than Evan Thomas...The War Lovers is as good as popular history gets."—Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316087988
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
04/27/2010
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
271,513
File size:
6 MB

What People are saying about this

Jay Winik
War can be horrific yet sublime, unnecessary yet seemingly needed, and too often seductive. In The War Lovers, a masterful book with uncanny resonance for today's challenges, Evan Thomas provides a haunting case study of how America cascaded into war in 1898. In his trademark prose, we vividly see the human dimension of the ineluctable push and pull of war, not to mention a poignant story of friendships ripped apart and a nation torn at the seams. This work is a triumph. (Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval)
Jon Meacham
No biographer at work today has a surer feel for the human dimension of history than Evan Thomas. In this remarkable and original work, he has painted a portrait of a world at once remote and immediate, describing with grace and skill the conflicting passions and politics that created American imperialism. From Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst to Henry Cabot Lodge and William James, Thomas has brought an incomparable cast of characters to vivid life. The presidency and the press of a century ago will strike most of us as awfully familiar, and it is safe to say that no one who wants to understand the America of the 21st century can afford to miss this landmark book on the defining drama of the last dying moments of the 19th. The War Lovers is as good as popular history gets. (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House)
Walter Isaacson
What causes the eternal pull of war on men? It's one of history's most important questions. Evan Thomas provides fascinating insights in this gripping narrative of America's rush to war in 1898. With a colorful cast of characters led by Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst, it's a tale filled with lessons for today. (Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life)

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