Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Review of "The War Myth in United States History," by C. H. Hamlin

 Review of

The War Myth in United States History, by C. H. Hamlin

Five out of five stars

How U. S. wars really started

 Written in 1927, the coverage of this book ends with the First World War. Yet, the explanations of the how and why of how the United States went to war from the Revolutionary War through the First World War still have a great deal of validity. The American led invasion of Iraq known as the Second Gulf War fits right into Hamlin’s recitation of historical facts.

 The wars covered are the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the War with Mexico, the American Civil War, the War with Spain and the First World War. In each case, the author explains that a specific minority of thought leaders drove the nation into the war. It starts with the Revolutionary War, where the consensus is that only one-third of the population wanted independence from Great Britain, one-third wanted to remain with Britain and one-third simply did not care.

 The War of 1812 was a colossal blunder, driven by a few people that were convinced that the U. S. could invade Canada and make it part of the United States. The War with Mexico was also driven by only a few people who were convinced that the United States should expand westward and given the weakness of Mexico, the time was right. The potential for the expansion of slavery westward also was a significant factor in the goal of expanding the U. S. westward.

 Almost completely lost to history is the origins of the American Civil War. Hotheads on both sides, but especially in the south, the most prominent were known as the fire-eaters, drove what was a minority sentiment into secession and a very costly internal war.

 Another fact that is important, but also largely lost to history is the long-term American desire for Cuba. The Ostend Amendment was written in 1854 and advocated that the United States either purchase Cuba from Spain or go to war to acquire it. A majority of politicians in the slave states were in favor of it, as they wanted Cuba to enter the union as another slave state. Some in the north were also supportive. Therefore, the launching of the Spanish-American War in 1898 was an event over forty years in the development.

 The reader should not consider this book a rendition of an alternate view of how the wars of the United States were entered into. It is a more accurate historical explanation of how small numbers of people were able to convince the masses that their particular pet war was a good thing for the country.

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