A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

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A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

Author: David J. Silbey
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 272
Cover Price: $ 26.00

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It has been termed an insurgency, a revolution, a guerrilla war, and a conventional war. As David J. Silbey demonstrates in this taut, compelling history, the 1899 Philippine-American War was in fact all of these. Played out over three distinct conflicts one fought between the Spanish and the allied United States and Filipino forces; one fought between the United States and the Philippine Army of Liberation; and one fought between occupying American troops and an insurgent alliance of often divided Filipinos the war marked America’s first steps as a global power and produced a wealth of lessons learned and forgotten.

In A War of Frontier and Empire, Silbey traces the rise and fall of President Emilio Aguinaldo, as Aguinaldo tries to liberate the Philippines from colonial rule only to fail, devastatingly, before a relentless American army. He tracks President McKinley’s decision to commit troops and fulfill a divinely inspired injunction to “uplift and civilize” despite the protests of many Americans. Most important, Silbey provides a clear lens to view the Philippines as, in the crucible of war, it transforms itself from a territory divided by race, ethnicity, and warring clans into a cohesive nation on the path to independence.

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Background Information

The United States had its first experience with people who didn't appreciate being liberated when they took the Philippines from Spain and then faced a native revolt. President William McKinley drew his inspiration for the US policy towards the Philippines during a nighttime revelation, which told him to bring them into the American sphere.