A War of Frontier and Empire

A War of Frontier and Empire Cover

A War of Frontier and Empire

The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

By David J. Silbey

Hill and Wang, Hardcover, 9780809071876, 272pp.

Publication Date: February 20, 2007


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.

About the Author
David J. Silbey is an assistant professor of European history at Alvernia College in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Praise For A War of Frontier and Empire

"David Silbey provides a much-needed introduction to the Philippine-American War.  In well-written and clearly argued prose, Silbey offers a smart and provocative argument for this war's complexity, brutality, and centrality to American as well as Filipino history.  Everyone with an interest in American habits of empire should read it."     --Eric Rauchway, author of Blessed Among Nations

"Since at least the Vietnam War of the 1960s, the Filipino revolt of 1899 against the U.S. occupation has provided crucial historical lessons in regard to American mirages about Washington's ability to nation-build and install democratic systems in fragmented, non-industrial countries. Silbey masterfully and succinctly (and, at appropriate times, graphically) analyzes that revolt and its implications for the time of Theodore Roosevelt--and George W. Bush."   --Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor Emeritus, Cornell University