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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 19th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:454
  • eBook ISBN:9781624884597

Sitting in Darkness

Americans in the Philippines

by David Haward Bain

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Retracing the historic treks of Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston and Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1901 during the Philippine-American War, David Haward Bain ("Empire Express" and "The Old Iron Road") brings the past and the present into sharp and simultaneous focus. The result is a book that is both a fascinating adventure story and an incisive analysis of the origins of the complex relationship between the United States and the Philippines.
Sitting in Darkness follows the paths of three people in the Philippines: an American soldier of fortune, a Filipino revolutionary leader, and an American historian who left the safety and limits of the library for the hazards of the jungle. What emerges is a narrative in which past and present are unforgettably entwined. In March 1982, David Haward Bain hiked 110 miles through the mountainous, sparsely populated coast of Luzon. Led by pygmy guides, he and his five companions crossed peaks, forded rivers, and negotiated jungles to retrace a historic expedition made during a pivotal but now forgotten American war. What spurred Bain to attempt this trek were the personal sagas of two men who were symbols of their country's aspirations, headline makers at the century's turn, who are now largely unknown: Frederick Funston, a midwestern soldier of fortune and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and Emilio Aguinaldo, the heart and soul of the Philippine insurrection against the United States. While in the Philippines, Bain spoke with moderate oppositionists, government supporters, and communist guerrillas; priests, social workers, political scientists, and historians; policemen and peasants. Their voices give considerable insight into the tinderbox of repression and revolution that smolders in the Philippines today. An epilogue brings the history of Philippine-American relations up to date with a meditation on the assassination of Benigno Aquino, a return during the People Power revolution, and what they mean for the future of Philippine and U.S. power in that part of the world. Sitting in Darkness is more than a history, although it is that many times over. It is that rare book in which yesterday and today are brought into sharp and simultaneous focus. It is a vast and meticulously executed chronicle of two nations and their people inextricably linked by politics and power, history and blood.
About the author
David Haward Bain is a prizewinning nonfiction writer who lives in Vermont, teaches at Middlebury College, and has been affiliated with the annual Bread Loaf Writers' Conference for more than three decades. "Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad," a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Book, was a main selection of The Book of the Month Club and History Book Club, and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in History; featured on CSPAN's "Booknotes" with Brian Lamb, it also inspired the WGBH "American Experience" documentary, "Transcontinental Railroad," for which Bain served as co-producer. "Sitting In Darkness: Americans in the Philippines" , illuminating America's first imperial efforts, received a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award. "Bitter Waters: America's Forgotten Mission to the Dead Sea, 1848," sheds light on a fascinating moment in American history--a daring exploit that captured the world's attention. "The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West" follows the historian, his wife, and small children on a heartwarming 7,000-mile transcontinental journey tracing hallowed historical paths. "Aftershocks: The Vietnam War Comes Home," about a post-Vietnam murder case, recreates with remarkable precision the entire spectrum of emotions that tore America apart during its years of agony, and lays bare the residue of guilt which continues to haunt us, as new wars bring so many new casualties. His short work has appeared in Smithsonian, American Heritage, Prairie Schooner (Readers' Choice Award), Kenyon Review, Columbia Journalism Review, TV Guide, and Glamour. He has reviewed regularly in The New York Times Book Review as well as Newsday and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and contributed many reviews to the Washington Post Book World and the Los Angeles Times, among others.