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Massacre in the Clouds: An American Atrocity and the Erasure of History

Kim A. Wagner

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South East Asia, USA, Asian history, History of the Americas, Colonialism & imperialism, Politics & government

Between Wounded Knee and My Lai another American atrocity occurred- bigger than either of them, yet today largely forgotten. But for the existence of a single photograph, it would have been entirely lost in time.

In March 1906, American soldiers on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines surrounded and killed 1000 local men, women, and children, known as Moros, on top of an extinct volcano. The so-called 'Battle of Bud Dajo' was hailed as a triumph over an implacable band of dangerous savages, a "brilliant feat of arms" according to President Theodore Roosevelt. Some contemporaries, including W.E.B. Du Bois and Mark Twain, saw the massacre for what it was, but they were the exception and the U.S. military authorities successfully managed to bury the story. Despite the fact that the slaughter of Moros had been captured on camera, the memory of the massacre soon disappeared from the historical record.

In Massacre in the Clouds, Kim A. Wagner meticulously recovers the history of a forgotten atrocity and the remarkable photograph that exposed its grim logic. His vivid, unsparing account of the massacre-which claimed hundreds more lives than Wounded Knee and My Lai combined-reveals the extent to which practices of colonial warfare and violence, derived from European imperialism, were fully embraced by Americans with catastrophic results.

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