This is my third reading of a Bradley novel. I can’t say that I enjoyed it like the first two. His characterization of President Teddy Roosevelt and Teddy’s views, I found disturbing. It may be historical but it seemed very opinionated on the part of the author.
We American’s may be guilty of always thinking our solution to a World problem is the correct one. We do tend to step in too quickly as was in the case of Iraq, Viet Nam and probably in Afghanistan. We always believe that we are helping a situation. This is the same reason we go to the aid of so many people in disasters around the globe. We feed the hungry and care for the sick. We make mistakes like humans do. We don’t always understand other viewpoints. Mostly, our policies are good ones.
Teddy believed his diplomatic mission to the far-east was being helpful. His narrow views may have been normal for the time period yet we expect a higher standard from our leaders. The story of the SS Manchuria and it’s delegation of political representatives included William Howard Taft and Teddy’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt. Roosevelt had sent this delegation to the Pacific to promote his ideas. It shows us another side of history that we may not have previously considered. Did this peaceful mission really have such a negative bearing on world history? It seemed a stretch to me to blame so many future events on this former President’s policies. This book may change how you view history. I doubt that this novel could ever be made into a movie as the previous two had been.
William Howard Taft, Roosevelt’s right-hand man and his successor as president is the delegation’s leader and spokesman. Alice Roosevelt and her romantic association with Congressman Longworth as well as being the American “Princess” onboard add color to the story. Did we really want to colonization the Pacific? Did the Philippines, China, Korea, Japan and Hawaii have a reason to resent our policies? You be the judge. I’m not so sure what the reason was. Bradley did his homework perhaps but missed something and tries to change our opinion. The theories of Aryan supremacy and Alice’s relationship with her father may be incorrect. Were the Japanese, the “honorary Aryans” of the East? Did we really think of them as such? Did they think of themselves in this way? Finally, was the attack on Pearl Harbor caused by TR? I don’t blame him for that piece of history. I like to think of Teddy Roosevelt as one of our great Presidents and worthy of his place on Mount Rushmore.
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