"History composed with zest and care and an eye for the anecdote."--The Boston Globe
In 1898, David Traxel tells the story of this watershed year, a year of foreign conflict, extravagant adventure, and breakneck social change that forged a new America--a sudden empire with many far-flung possessions, a dynamic new player upon the global stage.
At the heart of this vivid, anecdotal history is a masterly account of the Spanish-American War, the "splendid little war" that garnered the nation Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. From the sinking of the Maine in waters off Havana to the rough ride of Roosevelt and the triumph of Admiral Dewey, here is the lightning-swift military episode that transformed America into a world power. Here too are many stories not so often told--the bloody first successes of the new United Mine Workers, the tentative beginnings of the Ford Motor Company, the million-dollar launch of the Uneeda Biscuit--each in its way as important as the war as a harbinger of the American century.
Compulsively readable, frequently humorous, utterly fascinating in its every detail, 1898 is popular history at its best.
"Compelling and gracefully written."--Los Angeles Times
"Traxel is a lucid, engaging writer with a sure sense of narrative movement."--The Washington Post
The year 1898 is remembered in the U.S. as "one of those rare years [that] changed the course of American history." Traxel (An American Saga: The Life and Times of Rockwell Kent) has a flair for the good story and the telling anecdote that he puts to skillful use as he reviews the year's high points. They include the creation of the five-borough City of New York; the Great Blizzard; the sinking of the Maine during the Spanish-American War; the triumph of Teddy Roosevelt (the prototype of the modern politician); the creation of the National Biscuit Company (the prototype of the modern marketing empire); the great newspaper circulation wars between Hearst and Pulitzer; a cruel coal miners' strike; one of the last Indian battles; the emergence of John Muir and the conservation movement; and the beginnings of an overseas American empire in Hawaii and the Philippines. Traxel's footnotes indicate that his sources are rarely firsthand, but he is as proficient a name-dropper as he is a storyteller, and we hear about Edison, Ford, Frank Baum, Gifford Pinchot, Frederick Taylor, Clara Barton, Stephen Crane, Dewey (both the admiral and the educator) and William Jennings Bryan. And 1898 is presented as the year that marked the end of the old WASP America and the beginnings of a new America full of Catholics, Jews, blacks and all the social and ethical issues faced by a country that has suddenly become an international power. The year may not have been as tidy a turning point as Traxel portrays it, but his account of it is certainly entertaining to read. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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December 06, 1999
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