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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War Lovers, War Makers
"The War Lovers" introduces the reader to the remarkable handful of men who molded their country into a frame of mind which could not resist the siren call of war. Products of privilege, these three eccentric politicians each played a role in preparing the U.S. for its emergence into the Imperial Age. While Theodore Roosevelt, Cabot Lodge and William Randolph Hearst...
Published on 31 May 2010 by James Gallen

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficial TIme Magazine View of History
This book about the American war against Spain in the late 19th century in Cuba is described as "popular history", i.e. a superficial account of events of the past with the emphasis on characters and action and a lack of depth and rigor.

The book, written by a former Time magazine journalist, is an exercise in self-indulgence in which the reader finds himself...
Published on 3 Aug. 2011 by John Fitzpatrick


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War Lovers, War Makers, 31 May 2010
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 (Hardcover)
"The War Lovers" introduces the reader to the remarkable handful of men who molded their country into a frame of mind which could not resist the siren call of war. Products of privilege, these three eccentric politicians each played a role in preparing the U.S. for its emergence into the Imperial Age. While Theodore Roosevelt, Cabot Lodge and William Randolph Hearst played leading roles, supporting actors in this drama are Henry Adams, Thomas Reed and William McKinley.

Theodore Roosevelt reached maturity as an energetic young man bound to make America purer, stronger and more virile. While rising in public life, he fought official corruption while compromising enough to maintain his own political viability. Taking advantage of the relaxed work ethic of Navy Secretary Long, Assistant Secretary Roosevelt prepared the Navy for the war with Spain while his collaborators prepared public opinion. It was in this position that TR expanded the fleet, arranged for supplies of coal and ammunition, transferred his friend, Commodore Dewey to the Far Eastern Fleet and issued the order under which the Philippines were captured. After setting everything in motion, Roosevelt abandoned his post to follow the siren call to martial glory as colonel in the Rough Riders, the most colorful and best known unit of the Spanish American War. A substantial portion of the book recalls the unit's mobilization, training, transport to Cuba and its crowded hour of combat with the enemy.
The second leading character is Henry Cabot Lodge, the Boston Brahmin of the Senate. It was Lodge who befriended Roosevelt and guided his advancement in Washington. Lodge was the legislative wing of the War Lovers who guided the appropriations that enabled the Navy to grow and ready itself for the coming war. After victory Lodge was a participant in the debate about what to do with the newly conquered islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

The most eccentric of this war-loving trio was William Randolph Hearst. Hearst's role in the drama was to build, through the Yellow Journalism of his newspapers, popular support for American intervention to liberate Cuba. Although they worked to common ends, Hearst was the odd man out in this project. Although Roosevelt and Lodge were close friends, a mutual antipathy existed between Hearst and the other two. While Lodge sought national power and TR pursued personal glory, Hearst's goal was to increase profits. As incredible as it sounds, Hearst started a war to sell newspapers! Along the road to war, Hearst agents sprung a woman from a Spanish prison and made her a media heroine. When war did come, Hearst traveled to Cuba from which his byline brought the glory of war to the American home front. Like Roosevelt, Hearst would run for mayor of New York and Governor of New York although his elective career would be limited to undistinguished two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

An only slightly less significant character in this book is Henry Adams who served as the catalyst who brought together TR, Lodge and others for intellectual exchange in his home, just blocks from the White House.

In any good book, the protagonists need antagonists. In this work, the peace loving antagonists were President William McKinley and Speaker of the House Thomas Reed. This book points out how McKinley sought peaceful solutions, such as the purchase of Cuba, before being forced into war by the public opinion stirred up by Hearst congressional pressure shepherded by Lodge.
Reed had ruled the House with an iron fist until he tried to divert the train of war on to the track of peace. Losing control by defeats on the issues of war and the disposition of its territorial spoils, Reed's dream of living in the White House faded as he traded the glamour of public life for the relative tranquility of a law office.

"The War Lovers" tells the story of a few representatives of a segment of society who actually love war. In the contemporary world, the "hawk" is usually one who wants peace, but is ready to fight, if necessary. These men were different. They really wanted war. A negotiated peace would actually have been a disappointment which would have deprived America of the chance to earn its place in the family of nations by the virile trial of combat. On a personal basis, TR worked tirelessly to ensure that his Rough Riders would get to the front before the Spanish surrendered.

In this work, as in life, it seems that experience brings wisdom. A youthful TR, ashamed of his father's purchase of a substitute in the Civil War, lusted for the strife and glory of battle. His two antagonists, McKinley and Reed, who fought for peace, had been tempered by their service in the Civil War. An older and wiser Theodore Roosevelt would later serve as president for seven and one-half years during which the American military fired no shots in anger.

Author Evan Thomas has done an excellent job in bringing to life his subjects, their moment in history and the unique character traits which made them "The War Lovers."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but a little light on historical depth and legacy..., 16 Sept. 2013
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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Teddy Roosevelt is totally one of my favourite historical figures, but even I have to admit, the man was a bit war-mad. I wouldn't go so far as to argue that the Spain-American War wouldn't have happened without his involvement and role in encouraging the tensions, but he did nothing to prevent that war, indeed did everything he could do encourage it.

That he wasn't alone in this is the subject of this book. America has a somewhat dubious track-record of 'inventing' causes for war or manipulating situations to create a cause - 'Remember the Maine!' can sit quite comfortably alongside the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, or indeed September 11th if one wants to be truly controversial. There were definitely parties in America that wanted Spain out of Cuba; whether because they truly desired freedom for Cuba or freedom for America to operate in Cuba is almost immaterial. Certain individuals in America, the American press and a large portion of the American public wanted a war - one almost gets the sense that almost any war would have done.

This admirable book concerns the activities of three individuals in encouraging the declaration of war - Teddy Roosevelt, for one, in his role of Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Henry Cabot Lodge, TR's great friend and Senator for Massachusetts; William Randolph Hearst, editor of the New York Journal and one of the fathers of 'yellow journalism', or what we might today think of as the tabloid press; and three who fought across the war-fever sweeping the country - President McKinley, who was easily influenced and gave into pressure to declare war after the explosion of the Maine in Havana Harbour, blamed on the Spanish but almost certainly an accident; William James, brother of Henry James, a lecturer at Harvard and influential philosopher and psychologist; and William Reed, Speaker of the House.

The Spanish-American War wasn't quite the start of America as an imperial power (arguably that came with a similarly trumped up war against Mexico in the 1840s) but it brought with it Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico as American possessions, and it paved the way for the expansion of America's armed forces and served as a demonstration of its armed might, which came in handy roughly a decade later with WW1. It was a small war, 'a splendid little war', as a friend of TR's put it, but it served as an important point in America's history and deserves to be remembered for more than the making of Teddy Roosevelt, with his Rough Riders and charge up San Juan Hill.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book - although I'd argue any book featuring Teddy Roosevelt is enjoyable, simply he was such a larger than life figure - but it doesn't go into a huge amount of depth on the politics or historical legacy. The latter is a particular shame, given this war's influence on America's position regarding Cuba and its latter angst over imperialism, expansionism, not to mention the parallels with the Iraq war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficial TIme Magazine View of History, 3 Aug. 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This book about the American war against Spain in the late 19th century in Cuba is described as "popular history", i.e. a superficial account of events of the past with the emphasis on characters and action and a lack of depth and rigor.

The book, written by a former Time magazine journalist, is an exercise in self-indulgence in which the reader finds himself in the hands of an author who sets his own rules.

The fact that not a single work in Spanish is mentioned in the bibliography shows that the author did not even try to see how the Spaniards - and the Cubans - saw the conflict.

Even though he constantly criticizes the condescending and "racist" approach to the Cuban conflict by Americans at the time, he does not seem to have made any effort to do some original research and find out how Spaniards and Cubans felt about what was going on.

The result is little more than a series of connected articles which are presented through the lives of five influential figures - Theodore Roosevelt, William Randoph Hearst, philosopher William James and Senators Henry Cabot Lodge and Thomas Reed.

As Roosevelt and Hearst and are the only interesting characters, the other three become bit players of little relevance.

There is plenty of action and gossip - and it is quire enjoyable at times - but no historical depth and the writer makes no real attempt to link the war with the resulting strained relationship between the US and Cuba.

This is a pity because there are probably many Americans who do not even know that the US helped Cuba gain independence and then ran the place almost as a colony thereby losing its credibility and leading to the rise of Communist dictator Fidel Castro. The parallels with Iraq are obvious.
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