Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer looks back to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands in his new book The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (Henry Holt and Co., 2017).
How should the United States act in the world? No matter how often the question is debated, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation.
The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint.
Stephen Kinzer is the author of The Brothers, Reset, Overthrow, All the Shah’s Men, and other books. An award-winning foreign correspondent, he served as the New York Times’s bureau chief in Turkey, Germany, and Nicaragua and as the Boston Globe’s Latin America correspondent. He is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University and writes a column on world affairs for The Boston Globe. He lives in Boston.
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