Review of James Bradley’s The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

“Would the history of the twentieth century be different if the American Aryan had not made the Honorary Aryan his civilizing surrogate in Asia? Maybe my father didn’t have to suffer through World War II in the Pacific. Maybe the world would be more peaceful if Teddy hadn’t initiated an American foreign policy that relied on a benevolent big stick.”

James Bradley’s book The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War was not what I expected but it caused me to think. Bradley whose father was one of the Marines that raised the flag on Iwo Jima in World War 2, and wrote of it in Flags of Our Fathers, makes a case that the jingoistic foreign policy of one Roosevelt, Theodore, made the military task of a second Roosevelt, Franklin a reality.

A hard hitting indictment of a “White Christian” attitude that shaped both foreign policy and race relations with Japan and China at the turn of the 20th Century, Bradley tells the story of William Howard Taft and Alice Roosevelt’s, lengthy journey to the Far East in 1905 against the back drop of a secret mission to allow Japan to have Korea while at the same time, treating Asian civilization (including the Philippines) as second class savages who were destined to be either Christianized or hopelessly damned.

Bradley argues that Roosevelt’s racial attitudes were covered underneath a veneer that was part and parcel of his desire to be seen in a favorable light. And when coupled with secret agreements that would have been unconstitutional, a different light is shed on early 20th century American foreign policy. Using both American and Asian sources of the time, The Imperial Cruise is a personal and intense 21st century assessment of events and decisions over just over a century ago that reverberated down through the length of the 20th century.

A reader may strongly disagree with Bradley’s assessments and initial conclusions. However, The Imperial Cruise is a book that fills in some details about a period of American history that would have far-reaching consequences throughout the 20th Century.

(Note: This book was a gift for Christmas and I wrote this review solely for the benefit of my readers to use in assessing their thoughts for and/or against the book.)

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Jim Kane

I am a hubby to my wife of over 30 years, dad to two university students, caregiver to his mom, a minister, cat dad to Hanna who we adopted from our local animal shelter, a life-long aviation fan, and a reader and blogger. I began this blog in 2008 and post my book reviews, messages to my congregation, prayers, and other things as well. Thank you for stopping by!

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