In 1784, the United States was scarcely more than a strip of seaports, inland towns, and farms along the Atlantic coast--and already the China trade had begun, as the Empress of China sailed into Canton. From this small beginning, an American empire in the Pacific grew until it engulfed Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, and hundreds of small islands. With World War II, U.S. power advanced further, into China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia--where it was finally halted. Today American influence continues to ebb, as Japanese economic supremacy mounts and Manila forces the U.S. to dismantle its bases.
In The American Pacific, Arthur Dudden provides a sweeping account of how the U.S. built (and lost) a vast empire in the ocean off our west coast. Opening with a fascinating account of the early China trade, Dudden provides a region-by-region history of the Pacific basin. What emerges is the story of how American commercial interests evolved into territorial ambitions, with the acquisitions of Alaska, Hawaii, and the Philippines, and finally into far-reaching efforts to project American power onto the shores of mainland Asia. Dudden's vivid narrative teems with the dynamic individuals who shaped events: William Seward, the Senator and Lincoln's Secretary of State who was driven by a vision of American dominion in the Pacific; Kamehameha I, the Hawaiian conqueror who tried to bring his kingdom into the modern world; William Howard Taft, who as the first governor-general of the Philippines built the institutions of American rule; Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Japan's attacks on Pearl Harbor and Midway Island; and of course General Douglas MacArthur, whose immensely influential career spanned supreme command of the pre-war Philippine army, the Allied occupation forces in Japan, and the U.N. forces in Korea. Dudden brings the story up to date, reviewing the war in Vietnam, the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, the triumph of the Pacific rim economies, and the tremendous impact of Asian immigration on American society.
Since the days when Commodore Perry sailed his black ships to open feudal Japan, the histories of the American republic and the peoples of the Pacific have been closely intertwined. Dudden seamlessly blends developments in domestic politics, military campaigns, commercial trends, and international relations, providing the first comprehensive overview of this critically important region.
"Comprehensive, clear and a rare perspective that was necessary for my course. Good maps, readable, direct and concise. Thanks to Prof. Dudden."--Richard Owens, Lewis University
"A splendidly written account of an often misunderstood subject--the long-standing American fascination with the Pacific. Dudden's treatment of Alaska and Hawaii as well as China is especially useful and refreshing. This book will provide a pleasant alternative to all the traditionally Eurocentric texts on American foreign policy."--Daniel P. Murphy, Hanover College
"A lively narrative history of the more than two centuries of American contact with the Pacific region....[A] highly readable survey that will help students and other interested readers understand the American experience in the Pacific as we await the arrival of the Pacific century."--American Historical Review
"A wonderfully written book of what amounts to eleven finely crafted essays, each of which is interconnected but could easily stand on its own. Even those well read in the secondary literature will find a surprise or two here....[An] outstanding book....[G]enuinely impressive."--Diplomatic History
"A timely history, long needed, and a significant account in understanding the changing patterns of power and influence in the Pacific region."--Donald W. White, New York University
"A panoramic overview of two centuries of American commercial and political involvement across the Pacific. Both informative and entertaining, it should be of great value to students and general audiences alike."--Michael Schaller, author of Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General and Reckoning With Reagan
"Dudden brilliantly chronicles America's relationships with the highly diverse societies of the Pacific, from our early fixation with China, through our fear of communism, to our present state of anticipation and bewilderment. The book is marked by a sense of balance and conviction; Arthur Dudden's synthesis is a model of clarity and compression."--Robin Winks, Yale University
"With a crisp and informative style, Dudden combines the larger stories of Chinese and Japanese relations, and of America's 35 year Pacific War, with fascinating accounts of the mad voyaging of U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes and Commodore Matthew Perry's MacArthurian 'opening up' of Japan. The American Pacific is wonderfully written history."--David Chalmers, University of Florida
"A highly readable survey of 200 years of the relationships between the people of the United States and the peoples of the Pacific and Asia, this book is also written with a laudable and realized purpose: to utilize the past so we can move beyond the nationalist and ahistorical perspectives on Vietnam and other recent crises."--Walter LaFeber, author of The Panama Canal
"Dudden has taken on a daunting assignment with wide-reading energy and a gift for narration. He has produced a zestfully written compression of virtually everything Americans did, or tried to do, in the vast Pacific region."--The Journal of Asian Studies
"A lively and vivid account of two centuries of American involvement in the Pacific. General readers would find this to be an excellent introduction to the Pacific arena."--Pacific Affairs