He then began his career in journalism as Time correspondent in Paris in After covering Europe , the Middle East , and Africa where he was North Africa bureau chief in , he went to Asia, where he spent the most influential part of his career. Present in Vietnam in July when the first Americans were killed,  he reported on the Vietnam War in its entirety. This landed him a place on the master list of Nixon political opponents. It was during this time that he began to write Vietnam: A History His other books include Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution, which was nominated for a National Book Award ; and Paris in the Fifties , a memoir history of his own experiences of living in Paris in the s.
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Mar 16, Brian rated it it was amazing I grew up in the Philippines, but I feel like I learned more about Philippine history reading this book than I picked up in 12 years in the country. That said, it is definitely not just a book for people interested in Philippine history. While using the Philippines as its focus, the book walks the reader through turn of the 20th century US foreign politics, which could perhaps best be described as fumbling towards a semi-benevolent American empire.
The lives and careers of Taft, Teddy Roosevelt, I grew up in the Philippines, but I feel like I learned more about Philippine history reading this book than I picked up in 12 years in the country. The lives and careers of Taft, Teddy Roosevelt, and other important US figures are examined, often in a less than flattering light.
Fascinating book. They noticed Spain was losing control of its empire and saw an opportunity to take the territory for the United States. The Spanish-American war barely lasted a month, and all the USA did was punch Spain as it was already falling, declaring glorious victory and asserting the United States as a global power. Spain had ruled Cuba and the Philippines for centuries through the Catholic In , certain people came to power in America who believed the time had come for America to become a global power.
Spain had ruled Cuba and the Philippines for centuries through the Catholic Church, setting it up as a series of fiefdoms controlled by the local friars. The crown allowed Spanish citizens to purchase land and set up plantations, but not the natives. Spanish colonists often intermarried with the local peoples, and their land became handed down over the centuries and formed a landowning gentry that controlled everything while the peasants worked for subsistence on land they could never hope to possess.
The idea of equality with their Spanish rulers began to take root in the landowning class, some of whom were tired of being treated as inferiors when they had education and wealth and light-colored skin. Independence movements began to take root among these classes as early as the s.
When Cuba revolted against Spanish exploitation, some in the Philippines took up arms as well, and they might have overwhelmed the ailing Spanish forces had the United States not pounced on the opportunity. Long after Spain was defeated, rebels continued to fight for self-determination, and the US fought a brutal campaign to assert their authority over the islands.
The rebel forces were eventually forced to surrender, and now the US had finally become a global power. Motivations varied, and the issue divided the nation. Some wanted the territory as a gateway to trade with China and India. Others desired to convert the people into Americans, spreading civilization and reason to people who, in their eyes, desperately needed saving.
Some businessmen saw opportunity to establish overseas operations for cheap. Different people in favor of America becoming an imperial power had different ways to justify it. Anti-imperialists still held enormous sway in the government. From the beginning, the US coddled the landowning class, who switched loyalties whenever it suited them, doing anything to preserve their status and influence while the rest of the people lived in abject poverty. Because of this, and a culture the Americans could not understand, little changed.
Family is the modern continuation of tribal identity, which was how society functioned in precolonial times: the village chief had absolute authority, and his family was exempt from menial labor.
Catholicism helped extend these ties to both blood and ritual associations. Family functions take precedence over school and work, leaving many teachers frustrated the children did not attend school regularly, and leaving US governors frustrated their Filipino officers regularly used their stations to enrich themselves and their friends and families. Government, the police, and industry became crony institutions existing to elevate the social and financial status of the people in them and punish their enemies.
Under the US control, the Philippines was not permitted to begin business ventures that might compete with US businesses. They had to accept goods imported from the US without any price discrimination, effectively making the Philippine market captive to large US corporations, eliminating any chance the islands might have had to build up their own industry and commerce.
They were economically dependent on the USA, and the only people who benefited from this arrangement was the landowning class—some sixty families who owned all of the land, government, and industry, and the rest of the people remained indentured to this nobility.
The US pledged to grant the nation autonomy, but with a catch: the economic arrangement would continue. The islands had to allow US goods in and could not charge tariffs or differentiate between a product made in the Philippines and one imported from the US. Quotas would eventually be instated, but by then the Philippines was completely reliant on US goods. During the Japanese occupation of the islands after their attack on Pearl Harbor, the landowning class often collaborated with the Japanese to retain their status and power.
After the war, the US did not prosecute these collaborators, despite promises to hold them accountable as enemies of the United States. The US restored them to power, and this only confirmed the US did not care about the people at large but was only looking out for the interests of the upper class.
The gentry had become richer under US dominance, and the poor saw only empty promises. The people began to rise up and fight back.
He and his family ran the country as their own personal piggy bank for twenty years while the US was preoccupied in Vietnam. The US looked the other way for the sake of the military bases, vital to the war in Indochina. Marcos was eventually overthrown by an impromptu election he himself called for. His successor, however, could do little but pick up the pieces of the country Marcos had driven into crippling debt.
Instead of dismantling the system that had led to such unrest, she merely reestablished the system that had kept landowners in power and the peasants in the mud, looking out for those of her own social class. The United States hoped to change the Philippines into a bastion of Western civilization in the East, but failing to force change on the established gentry, who controlled land, industry, politics, and all other aspects of the nation, ensured nothing would ever improve for anyone but the rich minority.
All promises of land reforms to improve the condition of the poor never happened due to the landowners fighting every attempt at meaningful change. Cronyism still runs the country, and it remains a practically feudal society to this day. The US may look down on their corrupt democracy, but cronyism and nepotism run the world.
It just happens to be less of a secret in the Philippines.
In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines
In Our Image