A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: The Imperial Cruise


I have decided to spread my book review out rather than clump them together. 

Today's book is "interesting" to say the least...

The Imperial Cruise, James Bradley.  If you don't have a copy of Flags of Our Fathers, I suggest you get a copy now.  Personally, I say get a copy of Flyboys too.  I won't say everyone needs a copy of The Imperial Cruise.

This book is about Taft's pivotal journey to the Pacific, and US relations with Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines.  If you are not aware, there are some significantly ugly chapters in American history during this period.  This book seems a natural extension for Bradley as it searches for the seeds of the war in the Pacific that was to come later (and involve his father).  If you are a fan of Theodore Roosevelt, Bradley will strip the veneer off of Teddy and expose some unpleasant truths.  Of course, none of this is a secret, or a surprise.

However, any time someone does this, there are cries of revisionist history, and selective history, and "it was the time".... you either buy into that or you don't.  Bradley is not fabricating truths here:  these things happened (maybe I can't substantiate every individual claim he makes, but he is definitely correct in general).  Its shameful ... even if other nations were just as bad, or worse, in some of their actions.

On the other hand... Bradley really meanders around.  I actually like the anecdotes about Alice Roosevelt, and the rest of the Roosevelt family.  Its just that its hard to remember exactly what story Bradley is trying to tell you as he bounces from one topic to the next.  The reader is left with the feeling that the story of Taft's trip is really just a backdrop to attacking Roosevelt... not that he doesn't deserve criticism!  Far from it.  Just that very little of the book is committed to discussing what I thought was the central point.

There are some charming bits in here, such as a negative opinion of Roosevelt, who apparently was accused by political rivals of "sucking the knob of an ivory cane"... which... if you don't understand, I am not going to explain to you. 

I found the book interesting, and some of this is obviously quite well researched, it just feels confused and disjointed.  If nothing else, its an attempt to shed light upon a very dark chapter of American history.  If this subject interests you, find a cheap copy for your library.  Don't pay full price for this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment