Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley

In 1905, members of the United States government embarked on a cruise that took them throughout the Asian countries of Hawaii, the Phillipines, Korea, Japan and China.  The cruise was a mission created by the President, Theodore Roosevelt.  Not going himself, he sent his Secretary of War, William Taft, numerous members of Congress, and to make the occasion seem like a pleasant trip to renew ties and honor allies, his daughter Alice.  Alice was known as "The Princess", the Jackie Onassis of her time.  The press couldn't get enough of her, her clothes and her antics.  She provided the perfect cover for the true purpose of the trip.

For there was a hidden purpose.  Roosevelt, as was the case with many others in that time, felt that the white Christian male had a destiny to rule the world.  America, along with England and the other European powers, felt it was their right to take over the Oriental nations and to carve them up into so many prizes on a poker table. 

This is not the cuddley Theodore Roosevelt of the Teddy Bear and the Rough Riders legend.  This is the Roosevelt who time after time, in writing after writing and speech after speech, evangelized his belief in his race's superiority over all others, and his firm decision that God was on his side as he gathered nations and trade tokens to his country.  This was the Roosevelt of the motto, "Speak softly but carry a big stick" who believed that might made right, and that anyone who stood in his way should be put down brutally.

It is the author's belief that Roosevelt's shortsightedness and prejudice laid the cornerstone of the catalysm that was World World II.  The United States had entered into a secret treaty with Japan that gave them permission to take Korea and as much of China as they could bite off.  The shock was decades later when this favored nation turned against their champions.  Bradley puts the blame for WWII squarely in Roosevelt's lap.

Readers of history will find this book interesting.  While I don't personally believe that Roosevelt's policies were the sole source of the second World War as they don't account for Hitler and the Nazi atrocies, it is a spotlight into a hidden side of American history.  I was shocked to hear how openly prejudice was expressed, not only by politicians but by other revered American figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers.

1 comment:

Willow said...

Very interesting--I'd never heard of the cruise, the prejudice, or the secret treaty with Japan!