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It is said that politics and religion will never cease to serve as subjects of endless discussions, disputes and controversies. Wars inevitably relate to politics and become its main concern at times of crisis. Wars are being debated long after their end and find their reflection in various types of art, such as poetry, painting or cinematography. The evidence presented in these sources is not always unbiased. There are many subjective circumstances that influence a certain person and have an effect on his or her art. A perspective written by an opponent side is different from the one presented by an ally the same way as it differs when described by political supporters or opponents of war within a country.
Another circumstance that influences an angel of war representation is whether it is being described by the actual actor of war or its outside observer, such as journalist or reporter, or when it is described by an average army soldier as opposed to a commander of high standing. The list of such circumstances can be continued, but the main point is that while we read or view a certain source about war, we must be critical of given information, since there are always good chances that it is being biased by someone’s subjective view.
As an example of this assumption one can refer to the charge up San Juan Hill both described in the eyewitness accounts and portrayed in 1989 lithograph painted by unknown artist. These two sources seem to be in conflict and evidently reflect the contrary positions of both authors. Perhaps, the author of the painting was hired by Roosevelt to reflect the ride as something heroic and, in a way, deterrent, as if it was supposed to frighten the enemy away. Maybe, the artist didn’t witness the actual scene himself, and painted the lithograph from what he was told afterwards. One way or another, being far from the truth, the lithograph had its own purpose, which could be to glorify the national heroes and leave a good image of war to the civil public.
The eyewitness accounts by no doubt appear to be more dramatic than the above mentioned illustration. Moreover, they seem more realistic, since the war is shown from its bad side with all its sufferings, losses and fears. This, of course, for a number of reasons is not its best image for the rest of the public. First of all such reflection of war disrupts the common spirit of unity and forces the public to doubt the ultimate purpose and necessity of war. This, of course, negatively influences the financial and volunteering support from the public and raises the wave of protests and resentments. The chain keeps rolling and involves the negative influence of such images on soldiers who volunteer or being called up to fight. Finally, such emotional description of the events puts the whole nation in the state of a stress and nervousness from helplessness and irreversibility of losses brought by war. As a result, it is being perceived as a terrible and awful mistake, and since the government is responsible for war-related political decisions, it is the first political actor to blame for everything that has happened. Such situation is not favorable for the government, and, therefore, the similar eyewitnesses are not much welcomed by the government-controlled mass media.
The fact that the government manipulates the mass media during national and international conflicts and wars is not a secret. Nevertheless, since in most cases such biased mass media happens to be the only source of information available, consciously or unconsciously the public perceives it as the ultimate truth and makes its judgment based on it. That is why same as in case with the historical evidence, it is important to stay critical with any information retrieved from mass media sources. In this situation Internet appears to be the most independent and diverse source, although the information can be biased there as well. At least, a reader has an access to different viewpoint and more choice to decide which version of events is more likely to be truth.
As far as the Battle of San Juan Hill is concerned, the accounts presented by Richard Harding Davis seem to more effectively convey the sense of the battle as opposed to Roosevelt accounts mainly because they reflect the picture of the battle as a whole, not just from a perspective of one person involved. Roosevelt accounts are more self-oriented, they describe his personal experience and focus less attention on the events of the battle. Meanwhile, the Davis’s reflection is rather selfless, from a stand of an outside observer, brings out the picture of soldiers, their feelings, their looks, as well as geography of the battle and the situation with supplies and provision. Besides, Davis’s description provides much more emotional appeal and brings a reader right in the heart of the events.
The large amount of printed resources published on Spanish-American War demonstrates that despite its short duration it had a great impact on the history of the United States of America. Numerous publications have emphasized the diplomatic aspects of the war conflict, while others have focused on the events occurring in the heart of the battles. In general, the reflections of the war appear to be diverse and controversial, while the number of publications by and about journalists is countless. The Spanish-American War has signaled a dramatic turn in history and has shifted the position of the United States in the world.
The purpose of this analysis was to discover how a certain historical event in the Spanish-American War was presented in different sources. As it comes, the reflection happens to be controversial, but the fundamental analysis requires taking into account all sides of an issue, whether they seem close or far from being the truth.