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It has been termed an insurgency, a revolution, a guerrilla war, and a conventional war. Silbey demonstrates in this taut, compelling history, the 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.

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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. A big-picture account of an unremembered war that has uncomfortable parallels with ugly little wars that followed.

Played out over three distinct conflicts—one fought between the Spanish and the allied The first was a Filipino-American war against Spain, which the Filipinos were on the point of winning by themselves. In the second, the U.

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

Silbey establishes the U. However, that lost war defined Filipino national identity—far more so than the third war, which was a guerrilla conflict between the U.


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  • Though the American victory involved episodes of brutality, Silbey demonstrates that it was sufficiently quick, decisive and humane, and the former opponents cooperated so amicably, that Americans were arguably deceived regarding the general prospects of reconciling enemies. As America contributed to Philippine nationalism by establishing economic, social and linguistic connections, he shows that Filipino defeat came to look like victory.


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