In This Review

The Philippine War, 1899-1902
The Philippine War, 1899-1902
By Brian McAllister Linn
University Press of Kansas, 2000, 427 pp.

Narrative military history today is an art as despised as it is infrequently practiced. But in the hands of a first-rate scholar, it is something very fine indeed. It may take a full century to gain critical distance from a war as controversial as the Philippine campaign, but Linn has produced a solid account of America's first modern counterinsurgency effort. He concludes that the war's lopsided outcome reflected not a triumph of racist brutality (as many scholars see it) but a combination of the insurgents' arrogance and incompetence -- and a remarkable level of military sophistication and effectiveness in the American forces. He does not skimp on the horrors of war, nor does he dismiss the patriotism of Emilio Aguinaldo and the other Filipinos who fought the Americans. At the same time, he does not pander to a reflexive anticolonialist orthodoxy. A thoughtful, deeply researched, and well-written work about a war that teaches much about the nature of revolutionary warfare -- even today.