James Bradley is a great writer of historical non-fiction. I have previously read and loved Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys. My husband Ben read those two previous books with me also and we had great discussions about various historical facts we had learned. James Bradley is also a native of Wisconsin. He was born and grew up in Appleton and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Although he no longer lives in Wisconsin, I think I can count him as a “literary local.” Bradley’s father, John, helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima as seen in the iconic photograph. His book, Flags of Our Fathers, was the basis for the Clint Eastwood movie by the same name. It was a great movie!
The Imperial Cruise continues Bradley’s look into history. In this book, Bradley investigates the roots of the diplomacy that led to World War II. Bradley believes that it all stems from the “Imperial Cruise” made by “Big” Bill Taft and “Princess” Alice Roosevelt amongst others to many nations in the Pacific.
While the Imperial Cruise is the title and main subject of the book, much time was spent on background information about the United States involvement in the Philippines, Western conflicts with China, Japan, and Korea, Teddy Roosevelt, and Alice Roosevelt. It was all very interesting information.
I particularly liked the new perspective I got of Teddy Roosevelt from this book. I knew of Teddy and his charge of San Juan Hill, Rough Rider, and tough ways. What I didn’t know was that Teddy was a master of publicity and knew how to create a tough image of him to win the public’s heart, which was actually far from accurate. I also loved learning more about Alice Roosevelt. I knew of her somewhat, but this book dealt on her troubled relationship with her father, as well as her life as the publicity star of her day.
I was very interested in the discussion of racist policies that the United States used towards Pacific Rim countries such as the Philippines, China, Japan, and Korea. There were many atrocities committed. I think that Bradley may have simplified matters though by blaming all bad foreign policy on racism. While racism certainly occurred, there were many other dynamics going on that should be have explored more in the novel. Also, I think that the actual imperial cruise could have used some more discussion. There was a lot of lead up to it, and it ended up being more exciting than the cruise itself.
Overall, The Imperial Cruise was a thought provoking book. I will definitely be reading James Bradley’s next book about Franklin Roosevelt and China.
This audiobook version of The Imperial Cruise was 8 CDs and unabridged. The introduction and closing was read by James Bradley, but the rest of the book was read by Richard Poe. They both did an excellent job. The last CD contained an interview with James Bradley, which was very interesting.
Audiobook Source: Review Copy from Hachette Book Group. Thank-you!
Anna of Hachette Book Group has been kind enough to offer three copies of the audiobook of The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley for this giveaway.
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