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New Release: The War Lovers

51iDoGHTJHL._SL160_By Evan Thomas
Little, Brown and Company | 480pgs
Release Date: April 27, 2010

The unexplained explosion of the USS Maine, near the coast of Cuba on February 15, 1898, put the gears of war in motion and inflamed relations between the United States and Spain. Evan Thomas examines the confluence of events that triggered the Spanish-American War, and studies the characters of the key players in the U.S’s push to battle, in his new book The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898. Though the cause of the explosion was never determined, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge whipped the public into a war mongering frenzy with the help of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his yellow journalism. Hearst’s outlandish accusations in his New York Journal that the USS Maine was destroyed by Spain’s “secret infernal machine” (WMDs anyone?) helped Roosevelt and Lodge convince a compliant President McKinley, and the country as a whole, that war was the answer. Thomas theorizes that the men’s hawkish behavior stemmed from the shame of their fathers’ lack of participation in the Civil War, and the inherited sense of Anglo-Saxon superiority of the upper class.

Set in diametrical opposition to the bloodlust of Roosevelt, Lodge and Hearst were Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed and philosopher William James. These men took a vehement anti-war stance and argued that the fight with Spain betrayed the core values of America. Thomas draws some poignant parallels between the Spanish-American War and the current War in Iraq. Though more than a century separates these conflicts, the behavior of the presidential administrations and the press share some interesting similarities.

An Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, Thomas has written several non-fiction books including the best selling Sea of Thunder. Early reviews for The War Lovers have been very favorable. Ronald Steel of the The New York Times praises: “…Thomas has illuminated, in a compulsively readable style, a critical moment in American history. This is a book that, with its style and panache, is hard to forget and hard to put down.”

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