LITTLE BROWN BROTHER by Leon Wolff
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“Except for a major rupture with adjacent Mexico at mid-century,” writes Leon Wolff of the fateful year 1898, “…America’s international conduct generally consisted of minding her own business…. All these principles were suddenly and spectacularly violated by the Philippine embroilment.” Although nearly forgotten today, the U.S. annexation of the Philippines came at the end of a bloody and highly controversial war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, cost six hundred million dollars, and set America firmly on the path of imperial expansion. In Little Brown Brother, Leon Wolff tells the full story, revealing how and why the U.S. went from aiding Filipino independence to forcefully annexing the islands for themselves.
“The country needs a war”
Combining his rich historical knowledge with a compelling narrative style, Wolff offers a masterful portrait of the insurrection, including revealing sketches of key figures such as U.S. governor-general William H. Taft and Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo. In addition, he provides a memorable look at the fierce debate raging back home. On the side of empire were the nation’s leading Republicans, including President William McKinley, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and New York’s famously pugnacious governor, Theodore Roosevelt, who declared that “the clamor of the peace faction has convinced me that the country needs a war.” On the opposing side stood an equally influential group, including labor leader Samuel Gompers, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and celebrated author Mark Twain, all of whom joined the Anti-Imperialist League. “…I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines,” Twain informed the New York Herald. “I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
The victors and the vanquished
In the end, those talons would exact a terrible toll. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers lay buried in the Philippines while hundreds more died back home from service-related disease. For the Filipinos, however, the cost would be far worse. The death toll among rebel forces was over 16,000 while some 200,000 civilians were dead from pestilence and disease. The caribou population—essential for meat, transportation, and agriculture—was reduced to a tenth of its prewar numbers. A powerful new American bureaucracy, moreover, was in complete political and economic control. “The islanders,” Wolff writes, “had been conquered in every sense of the word.”
Winner of the 1962 Parkman Prize and now available in this handsome edition featuring an exclusive introduction from Johns Hopkins University Professor Paul Kramer, the acclaimed author of The Blood of Government: Race and Empire Between the United States and the Philippines, this landmark work presents an unforgettable portrait of America at the dawn of her global empire. 384 PAGES • 6" x 9" • B&W PHOTOGRAPHS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leon Wolff authored the classic World War I history, In Flanders Field: Passchendaele 1917. His articles and stories appeared in the New York Times Book Review, American Heritage, Down Beat, and the New Mexico Quarterly.
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