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The roots of American globalization can be found in the War of 1898. Then, as today, the United States actively engaged in globalizing its economic order, its political institutions, and its values. Thomas Schoonover argues that this drive to expand political and cultural reach—the quest for wealth, missionary fulfillment, security, power, and prestige—was inherited by the United States from Europe, especially Spain and Great Britain. Uncle Sam’s War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization is a pathbreaking work of history that examines U.S. growth from its early nationhood to its first major military conflict on the world stage, also known as the Spanish-American War. As the new nation’s military, industrial, and economic strength developed, the United States created policies designed to protect itself from challenges beyond its borders. According to Schoonover, a surge in U.S. activity in the Gulf-Caribbean and in Central America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was catalyzed by the same avarice and competitiveness that motivated the European adventurers to seek a route to Asia centuries earlier. Addressing the basic chronology and themes of the first century of the nation’s expansion, Schoonover locates the origins of the U.S. goal of globalization. U.S. involvement in the War of 1898 reflects many of the fundamental patterns in our national history—exploration and discovery, labor exploitation, violence, racism, class conflict, and concern for security—that many believe shaped America’s course in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

In this provocative synthesis, Schoonover offers a searing indictment of U.S. foreign policy and informal empire. . . . Will almost certainly generate debate among scholars; it also merits the attention of anyone with a serious interest in U.S. history. -- American Historical Review

Schoonover’s brief, provocative interpretation of US foreign relations based on 40 years of research will challenge all who read it. . . . Essential. -- Choice

A wide-ranging and learned book. -- Historian

A suggestive synthesis that links the emergence of a late nineteenth-century United States empire to the rise of an all-pervasive twentieth-century economic and cultural globalism. -- International History Review

A masterful job of pulling together long-forgotten thread of mid-19th century history to explain why ‘Mr. Hearst’s war’ against Spain was, 80 years of history to the contrary, actually our first global war. -- John D. Stempel, Patterson School of Diplomacy, University of Kentucky

Very forward-looking and thought-provoking. . . . Will surely provoke lively discussion among students and scholars. -- Latin Americanist

Schoonover’s sobering and thought-provoking study shows why and how the American hunger for wealth, material, labor, markets, and attempts at empire building was sparked by the Spanish-American War of 1898 and continues unabated to this day. -- Military Heritage

His concise history of the U.S.’s early imperial maneuvering is scarcely comforting and should play a role in ongoing debates about current actions. -- Publishers Weekly

During a time when Americans speak all too glibly about their 'empire,' it is necessary to understand where they took the fork in the road to that 'empire,' how their last 'empire' turned out (that is, badly), and how we should think about American empires. Schoonover does all this masterfully, succinctly, and in a broad historical context that is as instructive as it is imaginative. -- Walter F. LaFeber, from the Foreword

Well-researched, especially considering the difficulty of using recently declassified information. -- J. W. Thacker -- Bowling Green Daily News

Schoonover’s study is a welcome addition to the scholarship on the role of Latin America in World War II. Hitler’s Man in Havana is also an exciting tale that should be of interest to fans of espionage novels. -- Michael R. Hall -- The Latin Americanist

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Spanish-American War, World politics, Globalization


Military History

Uncle Sam's War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization
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