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The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,098 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. The sinking of the Maine was just the provocation Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt was looking for. Along with his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his rival, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Roosevelt began stirring the public's desire for war against Spain. Roosevelt was soon ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published May 16th 2011 by Back Bay Books (first published 2010)
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The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 deserves 4 stars for the easy reading style and short, succinct chapters focused on a particular area. Thomas has an easy style and you can see his weekly magazine level of detail and rigor. This book gives a good overview of the times and players that lead to the Spanish-American War in 1898. You get a good, although not very deep, analysis of Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Speaker of the House Thomas “Czar” Ree ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography, war
I approached this one with some reservations. Thomas is an inside-the-beltway talking head (or was), who would often show for the Saturday and Sunday political gab-fests. As I recall, I tended to like him better than most, but that's not saying much. He seemed rational. A moderate liberal was my take. Anyway, a lot of these types crank out popular historical books that are generally surface level treatments, and to some extent The War Lovers is no different. What elevates the book is that Thomas ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opening book about the men and events that played a role in turning the U.S. into a world power. I have read several books about the Spanish-American War so I knew about Hearst and Roosevelt's machinations, but this book adds an overview of others such Henry Cabot Lodge who supported the war, and Thomas Reed who opposed the imperialism that seemed to be overtaking the country.

Why would a man love war? For T.R. it was partly to make up for what he saw as his father's shameful behavior duri
Andrew Canfield
The War Lovers is a spectacular vehicle for understanding the beginnings of the American age of imperialism generally and the Spanish-American War specifically. Evan Thomas should be commended for writing the book in a style that gets the readers hooked from the get-go and tells a true story in a way that keeps things flowing.

The main characters in The War Lovers are Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, president (the book largely takes place when he is Assistant Secretary of the Navy and then a colonel)
Jill Hutchinson
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Welcome to the Spanish-American War brought to you by our sponsors Roosevelt, Lodge, and Hearst! In this book, the author gives us a detailed look at the run-up to the war in Cuba and the Philippines in which the US took on the failing empire of Spain and was overcome with war fever in the name of Manifest Destiny which could also be defined as colonialism or as the poet Kipling said, "the white man's burden".

It was the time of yellow journalism and William Randolph Hearst was pushing hard for t
May 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The consequences of wars of choice as seen through the prism of the Spanish American War, and several of its most notable personalities - Theodore Roosevelt, the elder Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, the philosopher William James, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Thomas Brackett ("Czar") Reed.

Evan Thomas, author of a succession of best-selling political biographies, has created an exhaustively researched narrative that shows how wars often sta
Mar 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I understand an author's desire to link his or her historical study to modern events, on occasion the effort can feel either like over-reach or overwrought. Evan Thomas's "The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898" is a case on point - from the opening invocation of water boarding in the Philippines a hundred years ago, to the closing image of Scooter Libby toiling away to get his boss Dick Cheney the war he craved, we are supposed to recognize the threads that ...more
Patrick Sprunger
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Channel audiences
The War Lovers is not written for history students or professionals. This alone isn't a problem; understanding American history is not the property of any exclusive club. Both young adults and people who haven't been in a classroom in decades deserve access to history too. The question is whether The War Lovers succeeds among popular audiences, because as a technical achievement it fails.

Evan Thomas's thesis was to compare/contrast the careers of five American public figures, three hawks and two
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh golly. You’ve got to read this book (“The War Lovers,” Evan Thomas).

Here, in a starring role, is Theodore Roosevelt cast in a light other biographers have missed or neglected, TR, a war lover who avers he would leave his wife’s deathbed to answer a call to battle. Roosevelt stars opposite Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, an important, neglected figure in American annals and - as few have known - a close and constant friend of Roosevelt, as Roosevelt was also of Lodge. The third of the war lovers, a
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book from my dad, who told me that there was a great parallel to the Iraq War at the end of the book. I waited, waited, and waited and it did not come until the final paragraph. The book was 4 stars throughout, but the final paragraph pushes it to 5 (do yourself a favor and make sure NOT to read the paragraph before you've read the book or it will ruin the experience.)

Being a big history nerd, I really liked this book. It focuses on Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Will
Apr 28, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The ennuyé masculinities of the WASP power elite seeking in war the ultimate test of their regime: whether capable of reinvigoration, or deserving of destruction. William James is the presiding shrink, Henry Adams the sarcastic chorus; both Anglo-Saxon neurotics of the Old School, Adams likening the "war lovers" to the southerners who cockily sallied forth to their enveloping doom a generation earlier. Leaders are often sick puppies addicted to the all-too-temporary erectile rush that accompanie ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Teddy Roosevelt is totally one of my historical boyfriends, but even I have to admit, the man was a bit war-mad. I wouldn't go so far as to argue that the Spain-American War wouldn't have happened without his involvement and role in encouraging the tensions, but he did nothing to prevent that war, indeed did everything he could do encourage it.

That he wasn't alone in this is the subject of this book. America has a somewhat dubious track-record of 'inventing' causes for war or manipulating situat
Suppression of the truth, the outmaneuvering of the president by war-hungry subordinates, and the incessant publicity [...] were having an effect. A great welling-up of patriotism, mixed with a desire for revenge, spread from coast to coast.

Having very recently read Miller's The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century and Morris' The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and since the book focuses a lot on Theodore Roosevelt, there was a quite a bit of
Dick Tatro
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On page 168. Thomas writes. On memorial Day 1896 William James was asked to speak at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston. Shaw was the white commander of the famous all black 54th Massachusetts. He was there to speak about the bravery of the 54th and Shaw but he took a different turn than most such speachs about bravery in war. He said that in battle bravery is not uncommon, it is our nature to fight when confronted. The real bravery was that a person like Shaw who was rich, white and privi ...more
Thom Dunn
I don't recall ever hearing the word "Imperialism" in high school in the 1950s, certainly not in connection with America. Perhaps the biggest "lies my teacher told me" are all the events and terms s/he left out of the curriculum. In Cuba Libre, Elmore Leonard gives an up-close account of the sinking of the Maine.
Christopher Carbone
War Lovers is a matter-of-fact look at the American vision in the post-civil war world, how the Spanish-American War was a by-product of this attitude, and how it effected journalism, the military, intellectualism and politics at the very end of the 19th century. The book classically details this growth through the actions and lives of Henry Cabot Lodge (Sen. Massachusetts), William Randolph Hearst (yellow journalist), William James (Harvard Professor and intellectual giant) and Theodore Rooseve ...more
Gerry Connolly
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The War Lovers Evan Thomas chronicles how three men TR, Henry Cabot Lodge and Wm R Hearst pushed the US into war w Spain in 1898 making us an imperial power. The war made TR a hero and propelled him into the White House. It was his "crowded hour".
Darryl Mexic
This is a non fiction book exploring the character of American jingoism in general and the titled characters, specifically, during the run up to and during the Spanish American war of 1898. Teddy Roosevelt and his best friend Henry Cabot Lodge, were Brahmins of Boston and believed strongly in social Darwinism, which was popular among the upper classes of that time. Basically, they believed that the most fit species of humanity, that being the English speaking Anglo-Saxons, were meant to lead an ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a great read as well as informing (educational). I was looking for a book on the Spanish-American War period for some time and chose this one due to my great interest in Theodore Roosevelt. I have read at least 3 other historical or biographical books about our very charismatic president, we fondly call Teddy.

The War Lovers added the other people involved with the thirst for war and making America a world power but also like many other powers - abuse of the position throu
Bookmarks Magazine
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sept-oct-2010
Thomas exposes the reasons for and the consequences of this "war of choice" by carefully constructing his narrative around the men who masterminded it. As a result, he reinvigorates the familiar tale with little-known facts and fresh observations. In addition to describing fierce battles and behind-the-scenes political intrigues, Thomas adds dramatic tension by recounting the acrimony and violence that erupted between such men as Roosevelt, Lodge, and Hearst, and, on the other side, Reed and Jam ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American history fans and students
Recommended to Ed by: I heard author give a lecture on it at National Book Festival.
I heard Evan Thomas speak of his history title at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. So, I thought I'd check out his book. He has a conversational prose style that makes for pretty easy reading. If you're like me, most History classes never got to cover the Spanish-American War of 1898. The War Lovers does a good job of filling in that blank. The book is largely about Teddy Roosevelt with a lot of pages devoted to his famous charge up San Juan Hill leading the Rough Riders in Cuba. Y ...more
Lauren Albert
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-american
Excellent telling of the story of the Spanish-American War--how some powerful and/or strong willed men helped make it inevitable, how it was fought, and what were the consequences. This is the war that made Theodore Roosevelt's name and that started him on his path to the presidency at age 42 in 1901 after McKinley's assassination (as the youngest president ever).

It is also amazing to read about the antics of Hearst and what he got away with (openly manipulating public opinion, showing up at ba
Mark Mortensen
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are many books written on the life of Theodore Roosevelt and many books also cover the Spanish-American War. “The War Lovers” is a fine complement to the group. Basically Roosevelt, Lodge and Hearst were searching for American expansion and lusting for war, any war. As it turned out the Spanish-American War would fill the void.
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If your primary interest is either with Teddy Roosevelt or the Spanish-American War, you won’t be disappointed; they dominate the story.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"War fever" takes on a whole new meaning when you read about the attitudes that infected so many Americans in the last decade of the 19th century. While today we may have those who want to send troops to the Middle East, just as previous generations sought to see America involved in Vietnam or Korea or Western Europe, in all those cases there was some perceived threat to our country's national security. In contrast, in the 1890s there were those who just wanted to go to war on principle--and it ...more
Herb Hastings
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellence example of well written narrative history. The author brings to life the central characters and places them in their proper context. The author covers the run up to the Spanish American War and the group of men who championed that coming conflict. They saw war as a good, even necessary thing to shake the accumulated rust of too much civilization from a society growing weak. War was the fiery furnace that forged men into MEN.

Like current modern wars, there was no real p
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
An interesting part of our history which I knew very little about. Of course, the iconic photo of TR as a Rough Rider is well known, but how we came to be in Cuba as well as The Philippines and Puerto Rico was not familiar to me. The terms, jingoist, mugwumps and others are covered in this story and the cast of characters is amazing. Roosevelt, McKinley, Hearst, William James, Thomas Reed, (never heard of him before, but he was pretty fascinating) are all principal characters. The racism and eli ...more
Tom Rowe
Well, I wish I had paid more attention while listening to this one. I had a lot of other things to think about. But It was good even if it did fail to keep me in rapt attention. Basically, this is a look at some of the American personalities involved in promoting and opposing the Spanish-American War. Some interesting insights into Teddy Roosevelt and Speaker of the House Reed sounds very interesting. I'd like to learn more about him.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
More than I knew before about the Spanish-American war! I thought there'd be something more visceral about it, I guess, either on the Yellow Press side or on the war chronicling side. Pretty dry when not discussing the war itself.
Kim Myers
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the book. I learned a lot that I never knew or was never taught during my education. It certainly stimulates thought of what we are currently going through in national politics and international affairs. I highly recommend this book for any fan of Theodore Roosevelt or American History.
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Evan Thomas has been assistant managing editor at Newsweek since 1991. He is the magazine’s lead writer on major news stories and the author of many longer features, including Newsweek’s special behind-the-scenes issues on presidential elections and more than a hundred cover stories. Thomas was pivotal in spearheading Newsweek’s award-winning coverage on the war on terror from the Washington burea ...more
More about Evan Thomas...
“...insults were exchanged, but never conversation" (p.17).” 5 likes
“Roosevelt and Lodge operated by a fairly straightforward and sensible credo: reform without power is meaningless, and power without scruple is corrupt.” 1 likes
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