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The Imperial Cruise


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About the Author

James Bradley is the author of the NYT bestsellers Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers and the son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He lives in New York.


Bradley (Flags of Our Fathers) has written a compelling book on a forgotten diplomatic mission. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt sent Secretary of War William Howard Taft on a cruise to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea, a diplomatic mission that also included Roosevelt's daughter, Alice. The mission was to solidify a secret U.S.-Japanese agreement to allow Japan to expand into Korea and China, with the irrepressible Alice distracting reporters. This agreement, resulting in the Treaty of Portsmouth, ultimately helped spark not only World War II in the Pacific but the 1949 Chinese Revolution and the Korean War. Bradley describes Taft and Roosevelt as firm believers in the White Man's Burden: since Japan embraced Western culture, Roosevelt wanted it to spread that culture to the rest of Asia. However, their policies backfired because anti-American feelings grew in China, the Philippines, and Korea as America turned its back on these countries, while America and Europe did not check Japanese aggression. Ultimately, Bradley reminds readers in well-cited detail of Roosevelt's often overlooked racist attitudes. Bradley's writing style will appeal to the general reader, with its good mix of letters, newspapers, and sound secondary sources. VERDICT Anyone interested in American history will want to read this book, especially those who want background on the foreign policy of this first sitting President to win the Nobel peace prize. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/09.]-Bryan Craig, MLS, Nellysford, VA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Theodore Roosevelt steers America onto the shoals of imperialism in this stridently disapproving study of early 20th-century U.S. policy in Asia. Bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Bradley traces a 1905 voyage to Asia by Roosevelt's emissary William Howard Taft, who negotiated a secret agreement in which America and Japan recognized each other's conquests of the Philippines and Korea. (Roosevelt's flamboyant, pistol-packing daughter Alice went along to generate publicity, and Bradley highlights her antics.) Each port of call prompts a case study of American misdeeds: the brutal counterinsurgency in the Philippines; the takeover of Hawaii by American sugar barons; Roosevelt's betrayal of promises to protect Korea, which "greenlighted" Japanese expansionism and thus makes him responsible for Pearl Harbor. Bradley explores the racist underpinnings of Roosevelt's policies and paradoxical embrace of the Japanese as "Honorary Aryans." Bradley's critique of Rooseveltian imperialism is compelling but unbalanced. He doesn't explain how Roosevelt could have evicted the Japanese from Korea, and insinuates that the Japanese imperial project was the brainstorm of American advisers. Ironically, his view of Asian history, like Roosevelt's, denies agency to the Asians themselves. Photos, maps. One-day laydown. (Nov. 24) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

PRAISE FOR THE IMPERIAL CRUISE: "Incendiary...[The Imperial Cruise] is startling enough to reshape conventional wisdom about Roosevelt's presidency." -- New York Times "A provocative study...What is fascinating about Bradley's reconstruction of a largely neglected aspect of Roosevelt's legacy is the impact that his racial theories and his obsession with personal and national virility had on his diplomacy. Engrossing and revelatory, The Imperial Cruise is revisionist history at its best." -- New York Times Book Review "[Bradley's] ingenious narrative thread is to track an across-the-pacific 1905 goodwill voyage by Roosevelt's emissaries...[his indictment of Roosevelt] raises tantalizing questions." -- American History "For readers under the impression that history is the story of good guys and bad guys...this book could be useful medicine." -- USA Today "A page-turner." -- Associated Press

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