Monday, January 25, 2010

The Imperial Cruise *Review* + Audio Book Giveaway!

In the summer of 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched the largest diplomatic mission in American history. Led by Secretary of War (and future president) William Howard Taft, the group traveled thousands of miles across the Pacific, docking in Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China and Korea. Along for the ride was Teddy's daughter, Alice, a media darling known for her wild behavior. She was not there by accident: her father knew that Alice would be an effective distraction for the reporters covering the journey. And Roosevelt had very good reason to keep his true motives concealed.

During this trip, Taft on Roosevelt's behalf, would negotiate a series of secret- and wholly unconstitutional- agreements that would lay the groundwork for America's Pacific engagement. These invisable treatises- brokered with the sliver of Asians that Roosevelt deemed "civilized" by virtue of their adoption of Western ways- would lead to World War II in the Pacific, the triumph of communism in China, the Korean War, and, within decades, tens of millions dead. The full details and implications of Roosevelt's illicit pacts would remain largely unknown until his own death, and then be effectively erased from the textbooks.

A century later, James Bradley, traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's imperial cruise, finally rediscovering what had actually transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing, and Seoul. What he found will forever change the way you think about American history and the origins of war and empire in Asia.

Before reading this book all I really could tell you about President Roosevelt was what I learned from watching A Night at the Museum. As I'm sure I've said before- history, or rather recent history, is not my thing. But even being up on the history books would not have taught me that President Roosevelt was considered the "war" president, that he created a public persona that was totally different then who he really was, and that he was sharply biased when it came to race.

I find it amazing on how far we have come in the last 100 years on the race issue. I know many would argue that we haven't come far enough (and we haven't) and we still have a long way to go (which we do). But the myths and lies that Roosevelt and the group on his diplomatic mission perpetuated were unbelievable. President Roosevelt thought of the Philipino peoples as "dog eaters" and set up a recreated village at the World's Fair to help the American people "understand" how barbaric these aboriginals were. He believed they were stupid, illiterate, and unable to be educated because they could not read, write, or speak English. In his mind this justified the killing of countless people in the Phillipines in a few short years.

On the other hand, the Japanese people were considered to be more like the American people then any other race he encountered because they so readily embraced the American culture.

Author James Bradley spent years researching the Teddy Roosevelt that nobody knew about. he read over 300 books and traveled to multiple countries to uncover what really happened on what the author has deemed The Imperial Cruise.

Because of all the dates and geographical locations this audio book encompasses I sometimes had a hard time following it. I am more of a visual person so seeing the dates and facts printed on a page would have stuck with me better. This book would make an excellent PBS miniseries or special and the narrator Richard Poe would be the just the person to bring it to life on the screen.

I did enjoy this audio book although I felt it was a bit long and I feel like I have a lot better understanding of this period of our nation's history. Anybody interested in history, Roosevelt, or wars would appreciate this book and that is why I'm giving one lucky reader a chance to win this audio book!

To enter the giveaway leave a comment below with which President you find most intriguing or one you would like to learn more about.

+1 entry for following By Book or By Crook (let me know in a seperate comment)

Open to U.S. and Canada only.

Please include an email address in your comment and you will be entered to win- it's that easy! Winners will be randomly selected February 6th. Good luck!

The Pearl *Review*

Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the Gulf beds that once brought wealth to the kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull's egg, as "perfect as the moon." With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security...

A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man's nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.

This classic novel by John Steinbeck was mentioned in my Bible study class last Thursday. Jeff Cavins, in his Adventures in Matthew 24-part study, was explaining some of the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13.

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Kino, instead, gets overcome by greed and dreams of all the things he can buy after selling his pearl. He hides it in different areas of his hut. Men, jealous and greedy as well after seeing the size of the pearl, try to break in and steal it. Kino starts to get paranoid that his every movement is being followed and starts across the mountains to go to the capital to try to sell it where he can get more money from it. Kino's wife Juana sees the evil this pearl has brought into their lives and begs Kino to get rid of it. This tragic folk story shows what can happen when wealth comes before everything else in our lives.
The Kingdom of Heaven is worth more than any pearl in the ocean and all other notions should be set aside as we strive to become a part of it.
I enjoyed this book very much and have recommended my son read it as well. It's a short book at 90 pages but it's message is very powerful.