January 12, 2016

I was looking forward to James Bradley’s book The Imperial Cruise, a story about a political mission undertaken during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency by his Secretary of War William Taft and his daughter Alice, among others, to reinforce Roosevelt’s world view and design in Asia, as a result of his previous works, Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys, both of which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, instead of a careful and serious look at a lesser-known aspect of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, I got instead an endless diatribe about the evils of American imperialism and how our entire history and worldview is based solely on Anglo-Saxon racist imperialism and that, basically, we deserved everything we got when it came to World War II. Uh huh.

Now, maybe there’s more then a shred of truth in that. But it’s also possible that the people we have conquered and subjugated since our founding were just as ruthless to the people they themselves displaced over prior centuries. Human nature is human nature. Only technology and the culture of any given time changes. I don’t know, I’m just raising that possibility. Which, by the way, Bradley could have tried to do as well, except that he was far more interested in “history as harangue”. Most certainly, our country could have learned lessons from our experiences in the Philippines insurrection and applied them so as to avoid what happened in Vietnam six decades later. And maybe it is true that Roosevelt’s double-dealing with Japan set the countries on a track towards war less than four decades hence. But then again, maybe Japan and its newly-acquired thirst for Asian domination wouldn’t have resulted in anything different. And anyone who knows the history of Hawaii knows all about the tragic circumstances that resulted from its discovery by the white man. Like, I get it, OK?

But there’s no point in crying over spilled milk, and here Bradley just lost me. If the point of his book was to make America the villain in just about everything that ever happened since the colonies came about, well, that’s his view. If the point of his book was to show folks how evil the U.S. is and what a racist bully TR was, well those were different times. I really tried to fight my way through Bradley’s screed, but after a while it just got tiresome. Which turned the book into what I call a “bad book” – one not worth the space it would take in my book case. So do you know where bad books go in the Richard household?

Like, I suppose, TR in a way, Peach has a rather uncompromising view when it comes to new books he finds in his area. Books are for scratching, chewing, and subjugating in his own bunny way. Covers, especially, are a favorite – they are pulled, tugged, ripped off, and then unmercifully shredded. To me it’s a win-win situation: I don’t have an overabundance of bad books, and Peach get a new play toy.

Sorry, James, better luck with your next book.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
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