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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of Overthrow and The Brothers brings to life the forgotten political debate that set America's interventionist course in the world for the 20th century and beyond.

How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat - until the cycle begins again.

No matter how often we debate this question, 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.

Revealing a piece of forgotten history in The True Flag, Stephen Kinzer transports us to the dawn of the 20th century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. 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. Only once before - in the period when the United States was founded - have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity.

All Americans, regardless of political perspective, can take inspiration from the titans who faced off in this epic confrontation. Their words are amazingly current. Every argument over America's role in the world grows from this one. It all starts here. This program includes an introduction read by the author.

©2017 Stephen Kinzer (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

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  • Joshua C. Packard
  • 20-02-2017

Timely and important

I'm currently active duty Army with 17 years in service. In my opinion, this book should be read by every soldier and, most importantly, by our politicians who decide whether to send us into harms way. As the author demonstrates so eloquently in this book, intervention abroad (whether by democrats or republicans) rarely leads to the intended goals due to ignorance, hubris, and unintended consequences. The Spanish-American War is a little understood and rarely discussed period of American military history. But that really should change given that the vigorous debate surrounding it are just as relevant today as they were over 100 years ago.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-01-2017

Highly Relevant History Lesson Well Told.

This well told history of the Spanish American War serves up many insights into the roots, motivations, and perils of American intervetion abroad right up to our present quagmires in Iraq and Afganistan. The heated political debates among giant personalities are as relevant today as they were in the 1890s. These are lessons we have not yet learned as a nation. Our failure heed them will create an increasingly unstable and dangerous world. Excellent and important book. Highly recommended.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jack O
  • 29-04-2017

Today's political atmosphere explained through History

When one takes a look at the beginnings of the policies that formed today's political climate, a greater understanding of our times can be achieved. Expansionism, Imperialism, or conquest beyond our current borders didn't just start with the latest Presidency. Looking at Teddy Roosevelt , the Spanish American War, the Philippine Insurrection, McKinley's assassination and other events of the period will help us see how America got where we are today.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-12-2017

Please read.

Every American needs to read this book. I implore you to do so. As a bonus, it's also a very engaging story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Barrett
  • 24-12-2017

A fascinating window into USA history

I thought I was familiar with American history. But the great debate between imperialists and anti-imperialists at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, was largely unknown to me. The author provides a detailed and fascinating exploration of that debate. Narrowly lost by the anti-imperialists, the outcome of that debate has shaped our 20th century American experience and is important to understand. I commend the book without reservation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer Neff
  • 21-11-2017

Best year’s read.

Very well presented, and a good historical read. A must for all history buffs and political minded junkies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nancy in NC
  • 30-05-2017

An Eye Opener!

A well researched, well written and well narrated history of Spanish American War and beyond.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason
  • 25-05-2017

Required to understand today's political world!

Kinzer lays out in detail the men and thinking that changed American foreign policy- and the world by consequence.
This book is both insightful and depressing in that it showcases how the same false premises are used time and again to justify military action as a means of economic growth.

Truly a book I'd want any member of Congress- and the citizens that vote for them- to read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • drewdpeabody
  • 09-12-2017

War is bad

This is an important book for a look at how we got to the military industrial complex that is the current state of US foreign policy. William McKinley's assassination muted his effect on this result along with Teddy Roosevelt's hyper masculine militarism which overshadowed McKinley. Roosevelt ironically became bored with imperialism and moved past it later in his Presidency though his advocacy of it propelled him to the Presidency initially and inspired Mckinley's assassination.
I would have put four stars down if not for the strident condemnation of imperialism by the author which clouds his objectivity which should be the hallmark of historical writing

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Burnley
  • 18-04-2018

History in the style of a comic book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Kinzer is a talented writer and researcher. But his simplistic, wildly distorted view of American history fatally taints the narrative. No U.S. military action in the last 125 years left things for the better, per his last chapter. He even implies that the Japanese attack on the U.S. in 1941 was provoked by our military actions in the preceding decades! So the "listening experience" could only be improved were the book written by an historian who doesn't see the world as either black or white.

Has The True Flag turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, because it's an outlier in its distortions and naivete.

Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. This performance is quite good, as have been the others I have heard.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None.