cover image The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

Evan Thomas, Author . Little, Brown $29.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-3

America acquired an empire in a fit of neurosis, according to this shrewd, caustic psychological interpretation of the Spanish-American War by well-known. Newsweek editor and bestselling author Thomas (Sea of Thunder ). The book focuses on three leading war-mongers—Teddy Roosevelt, his crony, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, whose fanciful New York Journal coverage of the Cuban insurrection and the sinking of the USS Maine fanned war hysteria. Ashamed of their fathers’ failure to fight in the Civil War, according to Thomas, these righteous sons trumped up a pointless conflict with Spain as a test of manhood, conflating the personal with the national. To Thomas they represent an American ruling elite imbued with notions of Anglo-Saxon supremacy over alien races and lower orders, but anxious about its own monied softness. As foils, Thomas offers Thomas Brackett Reed, the antiwar speaker of the House, and philosopher William James, who advanced an ethic of moral courage against the Rooseveltian cult of physical aggression.Thomas’s thesis is bold and will undoubtedly be controversial, but his protagonists make for rich psychological portraiture, and the book serves as an illuminating case study in the sociocultural underpinnings of American military adventurism. 45 b&w photos, 2 maps. (Apr. 27)