The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons

Abe Ignacio

Book cover

This is a valuable collection documenting contemporaneous public commentary, in the form of political cartoons, on a war that American popular culture and mainstream history has done its best to “disappear” over the past century. The book mostly reproduces the cartoons, which are organized into sections with a small amount of commentary. Although the balance is probably pro-imperialist and anti-Filipino, it’s interesting to see representation of the anti-imperialist perspective too (although only American perspectives are represented at all–I wonder if there were any Filipino political cartoons at the time?). I’ve read a decent amount about the Philippine-American war, but I was interested to read here the view that the declaration of the end of the war in 1902 was basically a political move to remove public attention and delegitimize the remaining armed opposition (which continued for more than ten more years, through the Battle of Bud Bagsak in 1913)–basically a “Mission Accomplished” a century avant la lettre.

Be prepared for a LOT of racist imagery. I guess I had a rational awareness that America was an openly racist society in 1900, but it was still a little shocking to see on the page.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars