What all of the essays on this website have in common is a critical inquiry into the necessity and justness of wars. The starting point is an understanding that wars do not just happen like earthquakes and volcanoes, but are products of human decision-making and institutional design. People, and especially leaders, have choices, and by exploring those choices, lessons may be learned.
One of the goals of this website is the cultivation of critical evaluation skills, which may be considered part of, or an extension of, critical thinking skills. Thus, in addition to analyzing evidence, weighing arguments, comparing interpretations, and reaching logical conclusions, students of history should develop a facility for assessing such weighty issues as whether wars are necessary and just, and what constitutes “progress.”
We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it, depending on the questions we ask. Conventional framing of U.S. wars and foreign policies centers on “the rise of American power.” The alternative framework here asks how that power has been gained and used, whether for good or ill. Its standards for evaluation conform to established international norms against national aggression, genocide, and human rights abuses, which apply to all nations.
The judgments of authors herein can and should be compared to those of other historians and scholars as well as popular conceptions and myths. Debate is encouraged. What lessons, after all, should we draw from history?
- Introduction (8)
- Causes of the War of 1812 (22)
- Covert action against Spanish Florida (8)
- Costs and conduct of the War of 1812 (34)
- Domestic divisions, debates and opposition to the war (16)
- The Treaty of Ghent and beyond (11)
- Introduction (3)
- Origins of the U.S.-Mexican War (23)
- Costs and conduct of the war (31)
- Debate and opposition to the war within the United States (12)
- The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (4)
- Legacies, lessons, and perspectives on the war (14)
- Introduction (6)
- From continental to overseas expansion (11)
- The Cuban War for Independence (15)
- The War of 1898 (12)
- The spoils of war and the Treaty of Paris debate (9)
- The U.S.-Filipino War, 1899-1902 (26)
- Historical interpretations (9)
II. U.S. motives and rationales (8)
III. Overview of U.S. administrations (10)
IV. Case studies
• Cuba under the Platt Amendment (11)
• The creation of Panama (13)
• Brief occupations and battles in Mexico (4)
• Long occupations and guerrilla wars in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (19)
• The Sandino war in Nicaragua, 1926-1933 (7)
V. Lessons and legacies (4)
- Introduction: Contrasting views (8)
- Origins and causes of the Korean War (25)
- Military history of the war (23)
- Public opinion and antiwar dissent in the United States (22)
- The war’s costs, hidden dirty secrets, and legacies (24)
- Introduction (5)
- Origins of U.S. Involvement in Vietnam (58)
- The American War in Vietnam – conduct and costs (68)
- The American home front: Stopping the war (71)
- Lessons and legacies (9)
- Additional section: Associated wars in Laos and Cambodia (22)
- Introduction (3)
- Historical context: dictators, democracy, and human rights (11)
- El Salvador (15)
- Guatemala (8)
- Nicaragua (23)
- Domestic dissent: Central America movement (12)
- Crime and cover-up: The Iran-Contra affair (6)
- Lessons and legacies (4)
Ten good books
- Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1989 (316 pages, plus endnotes). Donald Hickey provides a well-organized and well-written overview of the war, addressing military and diplomatic developments and politics and protests within the United States. He offers insightful commentary throughout. Hickey’s abridged version, The War of 1812: A Short History (2012) covers the main points in only 122 pages but with less eloquence.
- Benn, Carl. The War of 1812. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2002 (92 pages, no endnotes). If a short history is desired, Carl Benn’s user-friendly overview may be the best. Written by one of Canada’s most knowledgeable historians, the book contains excellent maps and images, a chronology, Native American perspectives, personal stories, and Benn’s judicious interpretations.
- Taylor, Alan. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 (458 pages, plus endnotes). With broad knowledge of early American history, Alan Taylor examines the War of 1812 on the northern front, describing the experiences of civilians and soldiers as well as military campaigns. The stories entice the reader to consider the human side of war; which is to say, the inhumane nature of war. As the thematic organization of this book does not follow the usual chronological pattern, readers may do well to keep a timeline handy.
- Bickham, Troy. The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012 (280 pages, plus endnotes). Troy Bickham, a British-educated American historian, examines the parties and pressures that pushed for and against war in the United States and Great Britain. This four-part medley dispels the cardboard stereotypes of Great Britain in American popular history and reveals the contentious political debates in both countries.
- Latimer, Jon. 1812: War with America. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007 (410 pages, plus endnotes). Jon Latimer’s study is advertised as an authoritative, compelling, and complete account of the War of 1812 from a British perspective. It generally lives up to its billing, synthesizing a wide variety of information. Its main entertainment, however, is the British point-of view, which is nevertheless less nationalistic than other British accounts, such as Brian Arthur’s How Britain Won the War of 1812 (2011) and Andrew Lambert’s The Challenge: America, Britain, and the War of 1812 (2012).
- Cusick, James G. The Other War of 1812: The Patriot War and the American Invasion of Spanish East Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003 (310 pages, plus endnotes). James Cusiak weaves a fine tale in what is often considered a side story to the American-British conflict. His study offers a mix of personal stories, sociological descriptions, and military and political developments in the so-called Patriot War. Descriptions of the suffering caused by the American invasion translate the real politick of this war into human terms.
- Ellis, James H. A Ruinous and Unhappy War: New England and the War of 1812. United States: Algora Publishing, 2009 (273 pages, including footnotes). James Ellis meticulously describes the great debates over the war in New England. He catalogues the activities and pronouncements of both advocates and opponents, and shows how the former put great pressure on the latter to end their dissent and join the military bandwagon. He also chronicles the economic hardships that befell New England, first as a result of President Jefferson’s embargo, then as a result of Mr. Madison’s war.
- Smith, Gene Allen. The Slaves’ Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 (216 pages, plus endnotes). Gene Allen Smith highlights the plight of African Americans in the War of 1812. He provides background on black soldiers in North America prior to the war, tells the story of how slaves were turned into British soldiers in the Chesapeake region, and explains how free blacks were sometimes accepted – mainly in the U.S. Navy – and often rejected on the American side. He includes the Patriot War in Florida in his story, noting the key role blacks played in the defense of Spanish Florida.
- Benn, Carl. The Iroquois in the War of 1812. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998 (200 pages, plus endnotes). There is no single book that covers all Native American tribes involved in the War of 1812, but there are a number of excellent studies regarding particular tribes and tribal groups. Carl Benn’s study probes the history and inner workings of the Iroquois and recounts the important role of the Grand River faction in the War of 1812. Other works on Native Americans in the war include Adam Jortner’s The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier (2012), Kathryn E. Holland Braund’s edited volume, Tohopeka: Rethinking the Creek War and the War of 1812 (2012), and Robert S. Allen’s His Majesty’s Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada 1774-1815 (1993).
- Graves, Dianne. In the Midst of Alarms: The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812. Cap-Saint-Ignace, Quebec: Robin Brass Studio, 2007 (438 pages, plus endnotes). Dianne Graves paints a finely-grained portrait of social life and the lives of women during the War of 1812, mainly in Upper Canada. Like the women she writes about, Graves’ approach to the war has an undercurrent of disenchantment. She concludes with a quote from a British army wife: “as long as ambition is the idol of men, so long will the sword continue to be the scourge of the world, and drive peace and contentment from the valleys of the earth” (p. 413). Graves’ husband, Donald E. Graves, is Canada’s foremost military historian on the War of 1812.
Also worthy of consideration are Donald R. Hickey’s Don’t Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812 (2006), Julius W. Pratt’s Expansionists of 1812 (1925), J. C. A. Stagg’s The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent (2012), and Spencer C. Tucker’s 3-volume reference work, The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History (2012).
A few interesting articles
- Cusick, James G. “The Significance of the War of 1812 in the American South.” Southern Studies, 20 (Fall–Winter 2013), 65–96.
- Gilje, Paul A. “’Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights’: The Rhetoric of the War of 1812.” Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring 2010): 1–23.
- Graves, Donald E. “’Every horror committed with impunity . . . and not a man was punished!’ Reflections on British Military Law and the Atrocities at Hampton in 1813,” The War of 1812 Magazine, Issue 11 (June 2009), http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/Warof1812/2009/Issue11/c_hampton.html.
- Hickey, Donald R. “Small War, Big Consequences: Why 1812 Still Matters” [book review]. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 91, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 2012): 150-155.
- Jobb, Dean. “New Ireland: How Maine almost became part of Canada at the end of the War of 1812.” Special to National Post (Canada), September 3, 2014, http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/new-ireland-how-maine-almost-became-part-of-canada-at-the-end-of-the-war-of-1812.
- Jung, Patrick J. “Toward the Black Hawk War The Sauk and Fox Indians and the War of 1812.” Michigan Historical Review, 38 (Spring 2012), 27–52.
- Kaplan, Lawrence S. “France and the War of 1812.” The Journal of American History, Vol. 57, No. 1 (June 1970): 36-47.
- Trautsch, Jasper. “Whose War of 1812? Competing Memories of the Anglo-American Conflict.” Book Reviews in History, Review no. 1387 (extensive critique of recent books on the War of 1812), http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1387.
Ten informative websites
- “War of 1812,” sponsored by Parks Canada and other Canadian historical associations, http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng. Includes an interactive timeline and map, information about all military campaigns and battles in Canada, overviews of the war on land and at sea, information about First Nation allies of British Canada, short biographies of leaders, learning resources for teachers, and even a trivia game. Excellent displays and relatively short essays make this the “go to” site for learning about the War of 1812.
- “War of 1812,” Historica Canada, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/war-of-1812. A succinct review of the war in Upper Canada with film vignettes and links to other articles embedded in the main narrative. Easy to navigate.
- “The War of 1812,” Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/explore/online/1812/index.aspx. This Canadian site contains excellent primary documents related to the war in Upper Canada; also a host of informative articles on many less well-known aspects of the war, such as “Loyalty and Treason” in Canada. The site lists “Important Places” in the northern theater of the war, with links to local websites.
- “War of 1812,” Indiana University Lilly Library collections, http://collections.libraries.indiana.edu/warof1812/. Offers a superb collection of overviews and documents related to the war. Categories in the first section include Trade Disputes, Sailors’ Rights, Territorial Ambitions, War Hawks, War or No War? and Readiness. The reader has access to documents such as Elijah Parish’s antiwar sermon on April 11, 1811, and John Lowell’s pamphlet, “Mr. Madison’s War” in mid-1812.
- “A Guide to the War of 1812,” U.S. Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/1812. “The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the War of 1812, including manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, and government documents. . . . In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the War of 1812 and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.” Of special interest is the collection of images from the War of 1812.
- The War of 1812 Magazine online, http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/c_warof1812.html. “The aim of the Magazine is to provide a variety of articles, book and other reviews, commentaries, documents and other material related to the War of 1812, an oft-neglected aspect of the Napoleonic Wars…” Editors include three of the most knowledgeable and prolific writers on the war, Carl Benn, Donald Hickey, and J. C. A. Stagg. Articles cover military operations, diplomacy, and the civil dimension of the war. In contrast to articles in academic journals, the articles in this magazine are relatively short and written for the public. (The box at the bottom of the page has links to issues.)
- “War of 1812,” United States National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/subjects/warof1812/index.htm. Includes information about historical sites related to the war (Chesapeake Bay, St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, Niagara Region, Lake Ontario, the Old Northwest, the Southeast, and the Atlantic seaboard); short biographies of important people – Americans, British/Canadians, and Indigenous peoples – personal stories, short historical narratives, and resources for teachers. See, for example, the story of the Canadian heroine Laura Secord, who was born in Massachusetts (http://www.nps.gov/people/laura-secord.htm).
- “War of 1812 Virtual Exhibition,” http://www.warmuseum.ca/war-of-1812. This unique website describes the war from four different angles: Americans, British, Canadians (including Canadian First Peoples), and Native Americans. “Using historic objects and images, this virtual exhibition allows you to draw your own conclusions and share your own perspective on a major historical event.” A variety of images from the war accompany short narratives. Great teaching resource.
- “The Official War of 1812 Bicentennial Website: Celebrating 200 Years of Peace,” http://www.visit1812.com. Lists local sites and museums in the U.S. and Canada commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
- For a clever moving map of major battles of the War of 1812, see: http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/sswetw/index.html.
- For President James Madison’s speeches, see: http://millercenter.org/president/madison/speeches/speech-3614
- For a sampling of newspaper editorials and political speeches in the debate over the war, see http://webs.wofford.edu/byrnesms/1812.htm
- For a mix of commercial memorabilia (army uniforms and weapons) and historical information, and an excellent chronology of the war, see “The War of 1812 Website,” http://www.warof1812.ca
- For primary documents such as the U.S. Declaration of War, Treaty of Ghent, and Amendments to the Constitution Proposed by the Hartford Convention, see: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/br1814m.asp.
- If you know the names of primary documents, you may be able to find them on google.com/books; for example, David Osgood’s A Solemn Protest against the Late Declaration of War (1812), and Northern Grievances, Set Forth in a Letter to James Madison (1814).
- “The War of 1812.” Produced by the American Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary (1 hour, 54 minutes), http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/film/the-film-pt-2. Makes a admirable attempt to capture American and Canadian perspectives and experiences; also addresses blacks in the war, military battles, the British blockade, military medicine, the Treaty of Ghent, and legacies of the war. See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gunLm3is3Uc.
- “A Question of Identity: War of 1812.” Produced by the National Film Board of Canada (28 minutes), https://www.nfb.ca/film/question_of_identity_war_1812. “This short film explores the effect the war of 1812 had on pioneer settlements of the Upper St. Lawrence and Niagara regions.” Dramatically portrays the ambivalent responses of Canadians to the war and U.S. invasion. Also shown at: http://www.militaryheritage.com/videos.htm.
- “The War of 1812,” from Canada: A People’s History: Part One, “A Mere Matter of Marching” (19 minutes); Part Two, “Tecumseh’s Last Stand” (24 minutes), http://www.militaryheritage.com/videos.htm. Well constructed narrative of the northern front in 1812 and 1813.
Ten good books
- Greenberg, Amy S. A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico. New York: Vintage Books, 2012. Greenberg skillfully weaves the tales of five personal lives into the larger story of the U.S.-Mexican War. It reads like a novel while covering key developments in the war.
- Christensen, Carol and Thomas. The U.S.-Mexican War. San Francisco: Bay Books, 1998. This large, picture-laden history of the war gives both U.S. and Mexican viewpoints. It is the companion book to the Public Broadcasting Television series on the war (see films below). Easy to read.
- Brown, Brig. Gen. John S. “The U.S. Army Campaigns of the Mexican War: The Occupation of Mexico, May 1846 – July 1848.” Center of Military History, United States Army, 2006, online book: http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/occupation/occupation.htm. General Brown emphasizes the nature of the occupation rather than battles in this excellent and brief review of the war. This should be of prime interest to citizens as well as military personnel in consideration of current and future foreign occupations.
- Brack, Gene M. Mexico views manifest destiny, 1821-1846: An essay on the origins of the Mexican War. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975. Brack provides a needed balance to the many stories of the war told from the official U.S. vantage point. Readers will be interested to read the statements of Mexican leaders and the Mexican press as well as Brack’s critique of bias in Justin Smith’s nationalist study (The War with Mexico, 1919).
- Price, Glenn W. Origins of the War with Mexico: The Polk-Stockton Intrigue. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967. Price examines the Polk administration’s strategy with a critical eye, recognizing the various subtle and surreptitious ways in which expansionists pursued their goals and explained their actions to the public.
- Pletcher, David M. The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973. Pletcher’s 611-page study of the diplomacy of the war provides enough detail to answer many questions about the particulars of the war, albeit from an American point-of-view.
- Jay, William. A review of the causes and consequences of the Mexican War. Published in 1849, available online. Jay’s classical work contains many primary sources on the war, including excerpts of newspaper articles and official orders that bear witness to the difficulties and abuses of the American occupation of Mexico. For other books published around 1850, see online versions at http://www.dmwv.org/mexwar/resources.htm.
- Schroeder, John H. Mr. Polk’s War: American Opposition and Dissent, 1846-1848. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973. Shroeder’s examination of the opposition to the war focuses mainly on the Whigs He sees contradictions in their lauding of military leaders and judges their efforts to be relatively unsuccessful, but nonetheless shows their prominence in the public debate over the war.
- DeLay, Brian. War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008. DeLay places the U.S.-Mexican War in the context of the many Indian wars – with Mexicans, Texans, and Americans – in northern Mexico (Texas and the American Southwest). The U.S.-Mexican War is covered in the last one-quarter of the book.
- Reilly, Tom. War with Mexico! America’s Reporters Cover the Battlefront. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2010. Reilly’s book is not really about the war but about the various correspondents who covered it. It nonetheless offers snippets of reports on battles and the American occupation, and reveals the prejudiced attitudes of most of the reporters.
Five useful websites
- A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War. A joint project of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the Library at the University of Texas at Arlington, this website contains essays, biographies, a timeline, background information, and primary sources, including proclamations, letters, diaries, images, maps, music, and poetry. See, for example, 42 documents under “U.S. Political Opposition to the War: Speeches & Orations.” http://library.uta.edu/usmexicowar.
- U.S.-Mexican War. Public Broadcasting Station comprehensive site, in English and Spanish. American-centered view of the war, with a few notable exceptions. http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar.
- The Mexican-American War and the Media, 1845-1848. Contains three dozen articles from five newspapers and other primary documents, including a list of memoirs published after the war. http://www.history.vt.edu/MxAmWar/Newspapers/Niles/Nilesf1847MarApr.htm.
- Library of Congress. Numerous primary documents, links, and resources. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/mexicanwar.
- Online Resources for Students of the U.S.-Mexican War. Entire antiquarian books from Google Books (PDF format, can be downloaded), from 1850 to 1917. http://www.dmwv.org/mexwar/resources.htm.
Ten good books
- Tompkins, E. Berkeley. Anti-Imperialism in the United States: The Great Debate, 1890-1920. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1970. Superb review of the political debates surrounding the American quest for overseas territorial expansion and influence.
- Tone, John Lawrence. War and Genocide in Cuba, 1895-1898. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. A well-researched, sobering narrative of the Cuban rebellion against Spain, with extensive use of Spanish sources; covers the American intervention in 1898 in the last chapter.
- Foner, Philip. The Spanish-Cuban-American War and the Birth of American Imperialism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972. A down-to-earth account of the origins of the War of 1898, incorporating official correspondence and newspaper articles. One of the first American authors to integrate Cuban views and experiences into the narrative.
- Pérez, Louis A. The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Pérez critiques the significant omissions and biases of American authors, challenging the dominant view that U.S. intervention in Cuba in 1898 was intended to liberate the Cuban people. An insightful work of historiography.
- Hoganson, Kristin L. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998. Hoganson examines how war supporters used prevailing notions of masculinity and gender to manipulate and build public support for war. A ground-breaking inquiry.
- Miller, Stuart Creighton. “Benevolent Assimilation”: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1982. A well-rounded examination of different aspects of the U.S.-Filipino War. Miller makes it clear that the “benevolent assimilation” promised by President McKinley was an empty promise with cruel results.
- Mojares, Resil B. The War against the Americans: Resistance and Collaboration in Cebu, 1899-1906. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1999. Focusing on the war in one island of the Philippines, Cebu, Mojares reveals much about the dilemmas, hardships, and ambivalence of Filipinos confronted with a new imperial power.
- Storey, Moorfield, and Marcial P. Lichauco. The Conquest of the Philippines by the United States, 1898-1925. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1926. Time has not diminished the insights afforded in this critique of the U.S.-Filipino War. The authors poke holes in the various justifications for war and empire put forth by the expansionists, concluding that the conquest of the Philippines was unnecessary and counterproductive to American interests.
- Kramer, Paul A. The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. Kramer provides a history of the U.S. nation-building project in the Philippine and examines how racial identity and prejudice played a key role in the conflict’s brutality.
- Welch, Richard E. Response to Imperialism: The United States and the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. Welch provides a useful overview of the war. Of particular interest, he considers the atrocities committed by American soldiers and the Roosevelt administration’s response.
A few interesting articles:
Brewer, Susan. “Selling Empire: American Propaganda and War in the Philippines.” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 40, No. 1 (October 7, 2013), reprinted online by Global Research News. Insightful critique.
“A Guide to the Spanish-American War.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/spanishwar. Provides links to numerous resources.
“American Anti-Imperialist League.” http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/American_Anti-Imperialist_League
Arnaldo Dumindin’s “Philippine-American War, 1899-1902.” http://www.filipinoamericanwar.com/thelastholdouts.htm. Detailed and rich history of the war, divided into sections, with well over 100 photographs.
“The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War.” Library of Congress, Hispanic Division: https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/chronology.html. Chronology of War of 1898.
“Timeline of the Philippine-American War.” http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php/Timeline_of_Philippine-American_War. Chronology of the U.S.-Filipino War.
- Aguinaldo y Famy, Emilio. “True Version of the Philippine Revolution.” Originally published by Tarlak, Philippines Islands, 1899. Online: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12996/12996-h/12996-h.htm
- “American Soldiers in the Philippines Write Home about the War,” History Matters (The U.S. Survey Course on the Web), http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/58.
- Anti-Imperialist League Platform, 1902, http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/the-spanish-american-war-and-the-anti-imperialism-league-1902
- McKinley, President William B. “Message to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War with Spain, April 11, 1898,” The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=103901
- “Secretary Root’s Record: ‘Marked Severities’ in Philippine Warfare: An Analysis of the Law and Facts bearing on the Action and Utterances of President Roosevelt and Secretary Root” (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1902), http://www.humanitiesweb.org/spa/nl/ID/26. Report of the anti-imperialist Philippine Investigating Committee formed in April of 1902, by Moorfield Story and Julian Codman (legal counsel for the Philippine Investigating Committee).
- “Treaties and Proclamations related to the Philippine-American War,” http://www.msc.edu.ph/centennial/philam-documents.html. Philippine proclamations.
Useful overviews of the era:
On Panama, Mexico, and Nicaragua (Central America):
On Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic:
On opposition to U.S. interventionism:
Critical studies of “Yankee imperialism” during the era:
Key Books and Scholarly Resources
For a cogent response to recent international developments, see Jeremy Kuzmarov, “A Call For Empathy Towards North Korea” Huffington Post online, January 3, 2018.
Armstrong, Charles K. Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013. A compelling analysis of the ideology of the North Korean regime and its international relations.
_____. The North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003. An important book for understanding the North Korean revolution, drawing on captured U.S. documents.
Burchett, Wilfred G. This Monstrous War. Melbourne, Australia: Joseph Waters, 1952. Account of the war’s dark side written from the viewpoint of North Koreans and Chinese by the legendary Australian journalist.
Casey, Steven. Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950-1953. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Monograph focused on the manipulation of public opinion by the Truman administration.
Cumings, Bruce. The Korean War. New York: New American Library, 2010. A synthetic overview of the war from the dean of Korean War historians.
_____. The Origins of the Korean War, Part I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-1947. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.
_____. The Origins of the Korean War, Part II: The Roaring of the Cataract. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. Detailed monographs on the origins of the war that brilliantly captures the Korean perspective and provides critical insights into U.S. policy and its pitfalls.
Ehrhart, W.D., and Philip K. Jason, editors. Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993. Valuable collection of stories, poems, and other writings about the Korean War.
Endicott, Stephen, and Edward Hagerman. The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Exposé of American support for biological warfare in Korea corroborated by new evidence that has since emerged.
Fast, Howard. “Korean War Lullaby.” Online: http://www.trussel.com/hf/korean.htm. Antiwar poetry by novelist Howard Fast.
Fehrenbach, T.R. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, 50 Year Anniversary. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2001. History by a soldier participant that offers raw, first hand insights.
Haruki, Wada. The Korean War: An International History. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013. Looks at the war in the broader context of Cold War international rivalries.
Hanley, Charles J., Sang-Hun Choe, and Martha Mendoza. The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War. New York: Henry Holt, 2001. Investigation into an atrocity in the Korean War by Prize winning journalists.
Harden, Blaine. King of Spies: The Dark Reign of America’s Spymaster in Korea. New York: Viking, 2017. Biography of Donald Nichols, a Distinguished Cross recipient who served as a key adviser to Syngman Rhee despite being a high school drop out. Nichols witnessed and committed numerous atrocities during the war, a real-life Lieutenant Kurtz. He was later branded by the army as a schizophrenic and given electroshock treatments, which he says were designed to erase memory of the horrors he had presided over. Harden’s book tells this remarkable story based on considerable archival research, interviews with Nichols’ family members and colleagues in the army, and survivors of the secret teams he ran.
Hwang, Su-Kyoung. Korea’s Grievous War. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press (Studies in Human Rights series), 2016. Focuses on the U.S. occupation of southern Korea and its sponsorship of a far-right regime that slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians. According to one scholarly review, the book “insists also on restoring the reality and dignity of the massacred Koreans, whose deaths remained ‘ungrievable’ under the relentlessly anti-communist South Korean dictatorships” (American Historical Review, December 2017).
Katsiaficas, George. Asia’s Unknown Uprisings I: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century. San Francisco: PM Press, 2012. History of South Korean social movements from the 1940s through the Kwangju demonstration uprising and pro-democracy movement of the 1980s.
Kim, Dong-Choon. The Unending Korean War: A Social History. Translation by Sung-ok Kim. Larkspur, CA.: Tamal Vista Publications, 2000. Draws on Korean sources to depict the brutality of the war.
Kim, Hun Joon. The Massacres at Mt. Halla: Sixty Years of Truth Seeking in South Korea. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014. History of the massacres at Cheju-do and Yesou-Sunchon and effort to uncover the truth after many years.
Kim, Suzy. Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013. Builds on Armstrong’s work in providing a detailed account of the North Korean revolution from the viewpoint of ordinary North Koreans.
Kuzmarov, Jeremy. “Police Training, ‘Nation-Building,’ and Political Repression in Postcolonial South Korea.” The Asia Pacific Journal, July 1, 2012, online: http://apjjf.org/2012/10/27/Jeremy-Kuzmarov/3785/article.html. Account of American police training programs and their link to political repression in South Korea.
Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964. New York: Laurel, 1978. Classic biography of the American General that provides an excellent overview of MacArthur’s experience in Korea and recall by Truman.
Masuda, Hajimu. Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. International history based on multi-archival research includes an interesting analysis of the global conservative upsurge in the 1950s.
Matray, James I. “Captive of the Cold War: The Decision to Divide Korea at the 38th Parallel.” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 50, No. 2 (May 1981): 145-168.
_____. “Mixed Message: The Korean Armistice Negotiations at Kaesong.” Pacific Historical Review, 81, 2 (May 2012), 221-244. Authoritative account of the breakdown of peace talks at Kaesong and American government responsibility for prolonging the war.
_____. “Revisiting Korea: Exposing Myths of the Forgotten War” (parts 1 and 2). Prologue Magazine (National Archives), Summer 2002, Vol. 34, No. 2, https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/summer/korean-myths-2.html#nt9.
Salmon, Andrew. Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Britain and Australia in the Korean War. London: Aurum, 2011. Salmon beautifully recreates the harrowing experience of British and Australian GIs and offers important insights into the nature of the war.
Thompson, Reginald. Cry Korea: The Korean War – A Reporters’ Notebook. London: Reportage Press, 2010. Account by British journalist that captures the horrors of modern machine warfare.
Young, Charles S. Name, Rank and Serial Number: Exploiting Korean War POWs at Home and Abroad. New York: Oxford, 2014. A well-researched account of the abuses in POW camps run by the U.S.-UN including at Koje-Do and politicization of the POW issue at the end of the war.
*There are many other valuable works listed in the notes.
LINK TO Protest Music of the Vietnam War
There are many action-packed films on the American War in Vietnam. Most move quickly through the early history, raising few questions about the presumed right of the United States to intervene in Vietnam and create a separate state in the southern half. Reflections on the war, as such, mirror the presumptions of the American war itself: South Vietnam is deemed a legitimate entity, the National Liberation Front (NLF) is depicted as a terrorist organization, and the U.S. is said to be “retaliating” against the communists. As the NLF does not give up, the war becomes a “quagmire.” There are tragic ramifications for the civilian population but no blame is placed on the U.S. The story line focuses on whether U.S. forces can win the war. Why so many Vietnamese sided with the “terrorists” instead of the American redeemers is not asked.
“The Draft and the Vietnam Generation” (49 minutes). This well-crafted documentary tells the stories of ordinary folks who faced the moral dilemma of being drafted to fight in a war they opposed. Produced by Beth Sanders for PBS and German television. Website contains background information on interviewees in the film. Cost: $20 to download. See the trailer.
Recommended books on the Vietnam War
The Zinn Education Project has developed a 100-page teaching guide for middle school, high school, and college classrooms, designed to enhance student understanding of the issues raised in the award winning film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.” According to its creators, the guide “engages students in thinking deeply about their own responsibility as truth-tellers and peacemakers.” In the spirit of Howard Zinn, this teaching guide explodes historical myths and focuses on the efforts of people — like Daniel Ellsberg — who worked to end war.” The guide offers an introduction, resource guide, and eight lessons for U.S. history, government, and language arts classrooms. The lessons employ a variety of teaching strategies, including role play, critical reading, discussion, mock trial, small group imaginative writing, and personal narrative.
Poetry became a vehicle for American veterans to express themselves, and such expressions have continued decade after decade. H. Bruce Franklin, in The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs, and Poems (1966), writes, “American poets were almost unanimously anguished and angry protesters against the war. Their collective voice cried out in a historic 1967 anthology, Where is Vietnam? American Poets Respond, edited by Walter Lowenfels, with antiwar poems by eighty-seven contributors, including many of the most distinguished figures in American poetry” (p. 221). Three collections of note are Winning Hearts and Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans (1972), edited by Larry Rottmann, Jan Barry, and Basil T. Paquet, Demilitarized Zones: Veterans after Vietnam (1976), edited by Jan Barry and W. D. Ehrhart (1976), and Visions of War, Dreams of Peace: Writings of Women in the Vietnam War (1991), edited by Lynda Van Devanter and Joan A. Furey.