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Defining Moments

The Spanish-American War

  • Author/Editor: Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom
  • Binding: Library binding
  • Trim Size: 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • Page Count: 228
  • Book Level:
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-7808-1235-2
  • List Price: $60.00
  • Sample Pages
  • Printable Information Sheet
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By 1898, the remnants of Spain’s once massive colonial empire were faltering. The United States seized the opportunity to shed its isolationist policy and begin its ascendance on the global political map. By the end of the war, the U.S. had secured its place as the  most powerful and influential nation of the 20th century.

Defining Moments: The Spanish-American War presents an authoritative account of the origins and progression of the Spanish-American War. It also explores the event’s lasting impact on America’s political and cultural landscape. The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of what led up to the Spanish-American War, the events and issues during the era, and its legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the era
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, song lyrics, memoirs, editorials, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: The Spanish-American War are below:

  • Summarize the history of America’s territorial expansion
  • Discuss the role that Spain played in the economic, social, and political development of the Western hemisphere since the late 15th century
  • Clarify the factors behind America’s evolving self-image—and changing perceptions of its rightful role in world events—during the 19th century
  • Compare and contrast the importance of the beliefs and personalities of several presidents—like James Monroe, James Polk, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt—in setting American domestic and foreign policy
  • Describe the emergence of so-called “yellow journalism” in the United States and its impact on American culture and politics
  • Discuss the frustrations and aspirations of Cubans, Filipinos, and other peoples who lived under colonial regimes
  • Explore the importance of naval power in 19th-century foreign policy
  • Summarize the rationalizations for imperialistic actions undertaken by Spain, the United States, and other powerful nations in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Evaluate the lasting impact of the Spanish-American War on American foreign policy and diplomatic relations
  • Analyze the complex feelings that many nations today have about the United States and its military power and global influence


“This thorough and factual resource is a good jumping-off point for high school students and will also provide an undemanding read for adult users interested in this period.”

—Library Journal, Jan ’12

“The Spanish-American War is an outstanding resource for teaching and learning about this fundamental aspect of American history. It is designed and organized right from the start to be useful and informative. The research and documentation are outstanding, and it manages to provide good, detailed information at a level accessible to a wide level of readers. The illustrations are useful, and the index is well constructed. This reference resource is highly recommended for middle and high school media centers as well as public libraries. Academic libraries supporting remedial students will also find it very useful.”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2012