Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another book meme -- and more questions

Shelby hit me with this book meme two weeks ago or so; now Patti has asked me to do it again.

Here are the rules, lifted this time from Late Bloomer Boomer:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.
I'd prefer not to tag anyone -- but I'm on a different book at the moment, so I can still play along.

At the moment, I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's "The Proud Tower," a "portrait" of Europe and America between 1890 and 1914. On page 123 Tuchman is writing about Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated President McKinley. Czolgosz was "troubled by the conduct of the American Army, which, after liberating the Philippines from Spain was now engaged in war upon the Filipinos." The next three sentences:
"It does not harmonize with the teaching in our public school about our flag," said Czolgosz worriedly.

As flags were a matter of no respect to Anarchists, [an anarchist named Emil] Schilling became suspicious of him and published a warning in Free Society that the oddly behaved Polish visitor might be an agent provocateur. This was on September 1, 1901, and was wide of the mark.
Czolgosz shot McKinley five days later.

Anarchists weren't the only ones concerned about America's role in the Philippines: Large sections of what might be termed the American Establishment were adamantly opposed to this foreign adventure. Some of this opposition was grounded in racism. There was considerable opinion, however, that America was selling out its uniqueness, its very soul, to join the European powers in the scramble for imperial possessions.

Forget Vietnam: The Filipino insurrection provides many closer parallels to our current experience in Iraq. The locals welcomed the Americans as liberators -- we deposed their Spanish overlords -- but when the Americans gave every indication of settling in, the insurgents began targeting Americans. The newspapers reported American military atrocities that distressed American readers. And the war dragged on... seemingly forever.

It's funny. I've read a number of Tuchman's books over the years, but not this one -- even though I've had it since undergrad. I must have faked my way through the test on that unit. I found the entire period boring and irrelevant. And Tuchman crammed too many names on every page.

Well, there's still a lot of names... but 30 years down the road, I know a lot more of them. And the era doesn't seem irrelevant at all.


Jeni said...

Sounds to me like an early warning for sure that we needed to make changes in our methodology from what you wrote about this book and the author. And, if you think about it, doesn't it all make perfectly good sense too? Why do WE (I use that term loosely here) feel our way is the ONLY way and we need to get every nation on earth in line, in our column? Granted, the US has done many great things in terms of assisting many, many countries - if not all at one time or another - around the world, but that still should not give us the right to take over and try to reform everyone else either. Hope what I'm trying to say here comes through - makes sense. Too many Americans think since we are supposedly the richest, strongest, etc., etc., that we can and should lord that over all others and I just don't believe that's the way things should be done perhaps is a more simplistic interpretation of my thoughts there.

Patti said...

Great job, Mr. Curm, I appreciate you playing along again, after playing along 2 weeks ago.

Agreed, it certainly doesn't seem irrelevant in today's climate.

History doth repeat itself.

Ellee Seymour said...

I read so little now, I spend too much time blogging, this is a regret of mine, I haven't found a balance yet. Also, my eyesight is very poor, our lounge is painted a dark red and my husband won't lighten it up, I really need a good light to read, as natural as possible.