October 30, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

The Statesman and the Storyteller: John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism

The Statesman and the Storyteller: John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism

Language: English

Pages: 608

ISBN: 156512989X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In a dual biography covering the last ten years of the lives of friends and contemporaries, writer Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and statesman John Hay (who served as secretary of state under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt), The Statesman and the Storyteller not only provides an intimate look into the daily lives of these men but also creates an elucidating portrait of the United States on the verge of emerging as a world power.

And just as the narrative details the wisdom, and the occasional missteps, of two great men during a tumultuous time, it also penetrates the seat of power in Washington as the nation strove to make itself known internationally--and in the process committed acts antithetical to America’s professed ideals and promises.

The country’s most significant move in this time was to go to war with Spain and to eventually wrest  control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. In what has to be viewed as one of the most shameful periods in American political history, Filipinos who believed they had been promised independence were instead told they were incapable of self-government and then violently subdued in a war that featured torture and execution of native soldiers and civilians. The United States also used its growing military and political might to grab the entirety of the Hawaiian Islands and a large section of Panama.

As secretary of state during this time, Hay, though a charitable man, was nonetheless complicit in these misdeeds. Clemens, a staunch critic of his country’s imperialistic actions, was forced by his own financial and family needs to temper his remarks. Nearing the end of their long and remarkable lives, both men found themselves struggling to maintain their personal integrity while remaining celebrated and esteemed public figures.

Written with a keen eye--Mark Zwonitzer is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker--and informed by the author’s deep understanding of the patterns of history, The Statesman and the Storyteller has the compelling pace of a novel, the epic sweep of historical writing at its best, and, in capturing the essence of the lives of Hay and Twain, the humanity and nuance of masterful biography.


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time he had enjoyed a long string of days of simple, mindless physical well-being. His health, as he remembered it, had started to falter around the time his son Del was born. John Hay wasn’t even forty when he had begun hauling himself to general practitioners, oculists, and heart specialists on two different continents. How many times had he described the intricate web of his ailments, pulling apart the threads that made up the symptoms of his nagging physical malaise? Dizziness, rapid pulse,

memory of twenty-five years ago is not brought to my mind. Henry Adams had seen this Egyptian landscape a quarter century earlier, in the middle of his own year-long honeymoon, which began to get wobbly on the Nile. His new bride, Clover, had suffered a frightening nervous collapse on the river, which, looking back now, Adams might have regarded as an event worth noting. Thirteen years later, behind the curtain of one of the many dark depressions that descended on her, Clover Adams had committed

Department to help them excise a pound of flesh from China, as payback for the massacre of eleven Christian missionaries in Ku-cheng. “The outrage,” the Times of London insisted, “must not be passed over as a trifle!” Alvey Adee, America’s acting secretary of state (and another of Hay’s old friends), was counseling calm, according to Tribune reports, at least until he had better information from Colonel Denby, minister to China. Hay could imagine the scene outside the desk he had once inhabited

consider these things at first,” Clemens reminded him. “They act first and think afterwards.” And more important, he explained, the stated reasons for the recent American outburst over Venezuela should not be summarily dismissed. President Cleveland was not simply grasping for votes, Clemens explained. Cleveland “would never so degrade his high office,” he said. “Whether he be mistaken or not, I am sure he believes that he is doing what is right for the honor of the nation, and just what Lord

John, Clara, and Helen “sitting solemnly in the midst of the grandeur, having lost all the keys of the trunks.” Adams did not find his friend more anxious than usual about the key issue. The situation was hardly beyond remedy, and the regal bearing of the house clearly took the sting out of any niggling inconvenience. The eleven-person servant staff was already on hand, ready to keep 5 Carlton House Terrace in trim for entertaining—the coal-fired furnace burning, the pantries stocked, the kitchen

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