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Dando-Collins (Caesar's Legion) recounts the conflict between tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and adventurer William Walker over the control of Nicaragua from 1855 to 1857. Walker, with mercenary support, entered Nicaragua's civil war in 1855 on the side of the Democratico forces against the Legitimistas. Historians have seen the Tennessee native as wishing to reintroduce slavery to Nicaragua and encourage settlement by American Southerners. Dando-Collins claims that Walker initially acted out of personal ambition, seeking to emulate Sam Houston of Texas. Only after he was elected president of Nicaragua in 1856 did he turn to slaving-holding interests to support colonization and to bring in African labor. Dando-Collins's basis for his defense of Walker? That he came from a family hostile to slavery and there is no record that he supported the practice of slavery himself. Even if the paper trail is not there, Walker's willingness to reintroduce and thus expand slavery demonstrates tolerance for the institution and/or unscrupulous desire for power. His actions put him into conflict with Vanderbilt, who controlled a major portion of shipping routes that used Nicaragua as overland transit between the Atlantic and Pacific. After the Democratico government seized his company's assets, Vanderbilt, with the tacit encouragement of the U.S. government, supplied Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with money for arms to depose Walker in 1857. While Dando-Collins presents the story readably, his questionable historical interpretation limits his book's value. Only for academic collections seeking comprehensive coverage.—Stephen Hupp. West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg
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ISBN-10:  0306816075
ISBN-13:  978-0306816079
Author:  Stephen Dando-Collins
Genre:  History
Publisher:  Da Capo Press
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review by . July 16, 2010
In 1849, fifty-five year old shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt was one of the richest men in America. When he died in 1877, Vanderbilt had more money than the US Treasury and was the richest man in the country. Americans remember Vanderbilt’s name today, but very few Americans remember the adventurer William Walker, his rival, who was the most famous man in America during his day.      This was the age of expansion. The US had just won the war with Mexico the previous …
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