The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898
Evan Thomas. New York: Little, Brown, 2010. 470 pp. Illus. Notes. Index. $29.99.
Reviewed by Thomas B. Allen
Anyone who knows anything about the Spanish-American War knows that William Randolph Hearst's sensationalist press is rumored to have helped to start it and Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders are supposed to have helped win it. In his latest book, The War Lovers, Evan Thomas cites another contributor: Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who saw the war as the launching of an American empire.
Hearst's screaming headlines—REMEMBER THE MAINE!—stoked popular support of the war. And Roosevelt's back-channel moves as Assistant Secretary of the Navy added Manila Bay to the conflict (via a cable to Commodore George Dewey, unauthorized by the Secretary of the Navy). But, as Thomas shows, it was Lodge's quiet political maneuvering that led a reluctant President William McKinley to lead the nation into war by signing a congressional resolution calling for Cuban independence. "We are in it for all we are worth," Lodge wrote in triumph. "But it is a terrible business."