In Our Image

A veteran foreign correspondent, Karnow has written a fascinating and comprehensive history of United States involvement in the Philippines. He begins with the Philippines President Corazon Aquino’s visit to the United States in September, 1986, to address Congress with a plea for much-needed economic aid and investment. Karnow then provides a brief summary of events leading to Aquino’s presence in Washington, D.C.--the profligate reign of the Marcoses, opposition leader Benigno Aquino’s assassination and subsequent martyrdom, Ferdinand Marcos’ loss in the presidential election to widow Corazon Aquino, the Marcoses’ exile in Hawaii, and President Aquino’s eroding popularity. After outlining the main issues between the United States and the Philippines, Karnow briefly sketches the history of the Philippines: “Three centuries in a Catholic convent and fifty years in Hollywood.” As he observes at the end of this introductory chapter, “Few countries ... have been more heavily shackled by the past than the Philippines.”

From Ferdinand Magellan’s accidental arrival in the Philippines in 1521 to Aquino’s appeal to the United States Congress in 1986, the history of the Philippines is colorful and dramatic. Karnow appropriately provides a cast of principal characters at the back of the book: Among them are William McKinley, the indecisive president cornered into colonizing the islands; Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino revolutionary who fought...

(The entire section is 588 words.)