Academic journal article Military Review

Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

Academic journal article Military Review

Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

Article excerpt

FIGHTING FOR AMERICAN MANHOOD: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, Kristan L. Hoganson, Yale University Press, New Haven. CT. 1998. 360 vases. $30.00.

Kristan L. Hoganson's book is an intellectually stimulating, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to reinterpret late 19th century US political culture and imperialism. The book's genesis lies in a June 1978 American Historical Review roundtable discussion titled "American Imperialism: The Worst Chapter in Almost Any Book." Participants debated why the sudden rise and decline of US imperialism generates such poor treatment in history survey texts. The scholars approached the subject in various ways and enumerated several interpretive approaches.

Hoganson continues this discussion by categorizing the arguments as relating to economic ambitions, annexationist aspirations, strategic concerns, partisan posturing, humanitarian sympathies, psychic crises, Darwinian anxieties and contemporary racial convictions. She enters the dialogue by examining the period's rhetoric through a gendered lens.

The sheer number of possible explanations convinces Hoganson that some way must be found to develop them into an understandable whole. She asks, "Why did so many reasons for war converge at once?" The answer could lie in "the cultural roots of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars." However, the problem is how to relate "the amorphous stuff of culture to something as concrete as policy decisions." Hoganson's goal is to investigate how "manly policies gave gender beliefs the power to affect political decision-making. …

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