America at War: The Philippines, 1898-1913. By A. B. Feuer. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002. ISBN 0-275-96821-9. Maps. Photographs. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xx, 265. $64.95.
In a manner somewhat reminiscent of those end-of-the-nineteenth-century books that regaled American readers with stories of their army's and navy's accomplishments in the Far East—something like Murat Halstead's Story of the Philippines (1898) comes to mind—A. B. Feuer's version of the American conquest of the Philippines consists mostly of lengthy quotations from published and unpublished accounts of wartime events, some written at the time and others long after, by both civilian and military participants in the war.
Feuer begins with extracts from journalist John McCutcheon's reports to the Chicago Record of the Battle of Manila Bay, which McCutcheon had witnessed from a ship of the Asiatic Squadron. McCutcheon is also called upon to describe the siege and surrender of Spanish-held Manila. A soldier's view of the attack on the city is taken from the memoirs of Evaristo de Montalvo. The Cuban-born Montalvo served with a Utah artillery battery, as did Charles R. Mabey, who published an account of Nebraska Pvt. William Grayson's shooting of (or at) an "obnoxious [Filipino] officer" at the San Juan del Monte bridge in Santa Mesa on the night of 4 February 1899 (p. 89). This story is repeated without comment, even though the author of one of America at War's two forewords asserts that "the Filipino who was shot and killed was apparently an unarmed civilian" (p. xv). (In fact, as Benito J. Legarda, Jr., has recently described in great detail in The Hills of Sampaloc: The Opening Actions of the Philippine-American War, February 4-5, 1899 [Makati City, 2001], Grayson was not at the San Juan bridge nor do contemporary army reports place him there.) John Brewer of the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry recalls the attack on Malolos, Edwin Merritt of the Iowa regiment describes the advance to San Fernando, a newspaper account by navy officer F. P. Allison tells of the Balangiga massacre, and so on. Feuer concludes with a description of the events at Bud Bagsak in June 1913, relying on the reports of several army officers who were there.
Feuer contextualizes little, does not always reveal where his sources can
be found, and does not direct readers to additional related sources. Feuer
is innocent of any knowledge of—perhaps simply is not interested
in—the scholarly literature on the Philippine War. No mention
of the works of Teodoro Agoncillo, John Gates, Brian Linn, Glenn May,
Stuart Miller, or Resil Mojares is found here. America at War
makes no contribution to the historiography
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of the Philippine War, but the stories Feuer has selected are interesting
(even if not always reliable), and some of them cannot easily be found
James Madison University