By John Thurman
Much has been written about the right-wing attitudes embodied by Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), Taxi Driver’s title character. Critical reaction has, at times, linked the film to reactionary revenge fantasies like Dirty Harry and Death Wish (1). Both director Martin Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader have discussed Bickle’s obvious racism (2). Although the film is told almost entirely from Bickle’s point-of-view, it has a counter-current throughout — a denunciation of American imperialist militarism. The same imperialism that involved Bickle in a war in Vietnam is tied to America’s moral deterioration. While this cannot be said to be the film’s main thrust, a careful examination of Taxi Driver‘s subtext reveals its presence.
The film relates the imperialist adventure in Vietnam to earlier American history, revealing a basic continuity, while illuminating its social consequences. Thus it is implied that little will change. Schrader says that “the film never mentions Vietnam, but it’s full of Vietnam language”, and adds that the references are intentionally obscure (3).
When we first see Bickle applying for the job of taxi driver, he wears a Marine jacket with his name stenciled on the back, a parachute wing breast insignia patch, and a “King Kong Company”shoulder patch. He tells the dispatcher (Harry Fischler) interviewing him that he was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1973. The first view of Bickle’s apartment begins with a shot of a clothesline stretched in a corner from which hangs an item of Bickle’s laundry, as well as a draped Vietcong flag — a souvenir from the war. Panning right, we see his olive drab service knapsack hanging from the wall before we see the rest of Bickle’s apartment, or Bickle himself. Travis and his dwelling are both intimately related to Vietnam as they are introduced. Clearly then, the shaping of Bickle’s character is closely entwined with the war. Vietnam has scarred Bickle; we see its effects on him throughout. And, in an expressive touch we see that this scarring is at once emblematic and literally true. An overhead glimpse of Bickle’s back, as he does push-ups, reveals that it is streaked with a length of scarified tissue. As Scorsese notes “It was crucial to Travis Bickle’s character that he had experienced life and death around him every second in south-east Asia… So Travis Bickle was affected by Vietnam: it’s held in him and then it explodes.” (4)
Travis the Marine
When Travis goes to Palantine headquarters to ask Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) why she won’t take his calls, he is ushered to the door by Tom (Albert Brooks). Travis backs away, and assumes a fighting posture that makes us realize he was no ordinary Marine. Rather, this is something he would have learned from hand-to-hand combat instruction in Special Forces training. As Travis goes back into training for what he conceives of as his final “mission”, he is seen doing chin-ups while wearing an inside-out Marines t-shirt, of the type used in basic training. He also drills with a KA-BAR knife, the standard Marine-issue knife since the end of World War II (5). Later, when he is about to attempt Palantine’s assassination, Bickle appears with his hair shaven into a Mohawk (6). This is a practice from Vietnam, continued from World War II airborne troops, who would get Mohawk haircuts the night before their perilous airborne assaults. It was particularly in evidence on D-Day (7).
The Mohawk__________________Two of “The Filthy 13″before D-Day
In Palantine’s second to last speech, he uses empty political rhetoric, which nevertheless gives the impression that America has lost its way, in part as a result of the recent failure in Vietnam. He says, invoking Walt Whitman, “We the people suffered in Vietnam. We the people suffered,” before continuing with a litany of vague systemic ills. Although Palantine is clearly nothing but a stuffed shirt, he is seeking, through carefully chosen rhetoric, to exploit deep-seated unresolved feelings lingering in the public from the time of the war. This empty populism is intuited by Bickle when he alludes to his plan for Palantine with a reference to Robert Penn Warren’s novel about a populist politician who is assassinated, saying in voice-over “All the king’s men cannot put it back together again.”
At the final rally in the film, where Bickle has planned to make his assassination attempt, Palantine speaks before the Maine monument in Columbus Circle. The location’s significance is manifold, and Palantine begins his speech by noting the symbolic significance it carries for him. Columbus Circle is a crossroads, he points out, “no ordinary place.” He adds that likewise, they meet at a crossroads in history. Palantine reiterates his earlier theme that “the wrong roads” have led the American people into war (in Vietnam) and numerous other social problems. For Bickle, too, it is a crossroads, the scene is led into with his voiceover, where he tells us that he sees clearly now that his “whole life has been pointed in one direction.”
The Maine monument serving as a backdrop for Palantine is America’s national monument to the Spanish-American war, which ushered in a new era whereby America changed from an expansionist nation with continental designs to an imperialist power with overseas territories (8). The Maine itself embodied this new vision of America, as the first of a new class of battleship designed and built wholly in America with American materials (9). Also, the unsubstantiated claims made in the wake of the Maine’s sinking which helped generate support for a war with Spain foreshadow the later Gulf of Tonkin incident (10), by which Congressional support for American escalation in Vietnam was assured. The parallelism of the two wars does not end there. As historian Howard Zinn points out, both wars share:
…the euphemisms for imperial expansion (McKinley called his policy ‘Benevolent Assimilation’); the ignoring of peace overtures from the other side; the incessant promises of victory just around the corner; the look beyond the battlefield to the markets of China; the growing disgust of American soldiers with the war; the token court-martials with token punishments for officers accused of atrocities; the racism of soldiers in the field and financiers in the stock exchanges, as our armies searched and destroyed ‘the Niggers’ of the Philippines (11).
The Spanish-American War set America on the path to becoming “the new Rome.” (12) And just as in the proverbial saying “all roads lead to Rome”, for Bickle, his whole life has led to this moment, to Palantine. Palantine’s very name, Schrader has pointed out, is derived from Rome’s Palatine Hill (13). Palatine Hill is the center-most of Rome’s seven hills, where, according to legend, Romulus and Remus founded Rome. In recognition of its importance, it became the site where Roman emperors built their palaces.
In one sense, Bickle’s assassination of the Senator would be a way of destroying Palantine’s hold on Betsy, which appears total (14). But it would also be, whether Bickle consciously intends it to be so or not, a way of casting off the American imperialism which led to the war that traumatized Bickle and made him a killer in the first place.
The monument to the Maine is also the result of an effort by William Randolph Hearst’s paper, The New York Journal, to take up a collection to commemorate the 267 American sailors who died as a result of the sinking (15). It is commonly thought that Hearst, along with his yellow journalist competitor Joseph Pulitzer were instrumental in America’s involvement in the Spanish-American War (16).
The monument’s sculpture is composed of groupings of allegorical figures emphasizing sea power and America’s new world-power status. These two ideas were closely linked at the time, popularized by the work of Alfred T. Mahan and put into practice by his disciple Theodore Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy when the war broke out (17). At the top a gilded Columbia, America personified, leads a chariot drawn by three mythical sea creatures, cast with bronze from the Maine’s six-inch guns (18). The principal group, visible just behind and above Palantine, consists of the martial virtues of Courage and Fortitude personified, along with Peace and Victory. Victory is posed before all, kneeling on the prow of a warship. On the same level, the monument’s posterior features a grouping of three, with Justice, eyes closed, receiving her sword from a Warrior, to whom it has been lent, as History records this on a tablet. Two smaller pylons decorated with marine motifs flank the primary monumental pylon. On one is a deified embodiment of the Pacific Ocean, on the other, the Atlantic (19). Both saw fighting in the war. Thus, the memorial is made national in scope (“from sea to shining sea”), with America’s role understood to be global for the first time, a new Rome indeed.
The statuary glorifies American militarism. Palantine mimics the triumphal pose of Victory three times over the course of his brief speech. Each time this is emphasized with the framing. If it was somehow unclear before, Palantine’s repeated mimicry reveals him to be a political hack, and his anti-war rhetoric to be nothing but a charade. Clearly, he would do nothing to alter American policy.
Palantine repeatedly strikes a pose
The Venus de Milo
The neo-classical style of the monument’s figures is in keeping with the classical motifs seen at other points in the film. Hence, the porno theater where Travis takes Betsy is The Lyric, and has bucolic flute music piped in at its entrance. At another porno theater, a reproduction of the Venus de Milo stands atop the candy counter. The manager called for by the harassed concessions woman (Diahnne Abbott) is named “Troy”. Perhaps it is no coincidence that even the empty slogan espoused by Palantine’s primary opponent, Goodwin, is “A Return to Greatness”. This would indicate a recognition that America has fallen into a period of decay and must be restored.
Pornography though is just one manifestation of the depravity Travis sees everywhere around him. Just as Vietnam is linked to the Spanish-American War, and ultimately to the Roman Empire, the few classical references can be seen as relating the vast tapestry of social problems depicted in the film to the decadence of the ancients. In the film we see that on “the home front”, the effect of American imperialism has been anything but benevolent.
1. See the following:
Michael Dempsey, Taxi Driver (review), Film Quarterly, vol. 29, No. 4, Summer 1976, p. 41.
Gordon Gow, Taxi Driver (review), Films and Filming, vol. 22, No. 12, September 1976, p. 30.
Lenny Rubenstein, Taxi Driver (review), Cineaste, vol. 12, no. 3, Fall 1976, p. 34.
Rubinstein notes that the .44 Magnum Travis buys is the same gun used by Dirty Harry.
Colin Westerbeck, Jr., “Beauties and the Beast”, Sight and Sound, vol. 45, No. 3, Summer 1976, p. 139.
Amy Taubin, Taxi Driver (BFI Film Classics), London, British Film Institute, 2000. Taubin notes that this is a simplistic view, not allowing for Travis’ psychopathology or his being in the tradition of the Noir anti-hero (p. 15). But Taubin also suggests Bickle mayhave learned hand-to-hand combat in a right-wing militia (p. 48), and goes on to discuss Bickle’s gun fetishism in depth (pp. 53-54).
2. Paul Schrader quoted in Taubin, 2000, p. 16. Schrader says, “There’s no doubt that Travis is a racist.”
Martin Scorsese quoted in Richard Goldstein and Mark Jacobson, “Martin Scorsese Tells All: Blood and Guts Turn Me On!”, Village Voice, April 5, 1976. Reprinted in Peter Brunette (ed.), Martin Scorsese Interviews, Jackson, University of Mississippi, 1999, p. 61. Scorsese says, “Well, Bobby DeNiro in Taxi Driver is a racist character.”
See also Schrader quoted in Kevin Jackson (ed.), Schrader on Schrader, London and Boston, Faber and Faber, 1990, p. 117. Schrader says, “In fact, in the draft of the script I sold, at the end all the people he [Bickle] kills are black.”
3. Quoted in John Brady, The Craft of the Screenwriter, New York, Touchstone, 1981, pp. 292-293. Scorsese seems to admit the basis for the interpretation given herein, but discounts it as secondary to what he saw as the overriding concern in the film. See Guy Flatley, “Martin Scorsese’s Gamble”, New York Times, February 8, 1976, reprinted in Peter Brunette, 1999, pp. 56-57. Flatly asks:
But doesn’t Taxi Driver make a broader social statement? Doesn’t it say that our country-with its poverty and filth, its Watergate and its Vietnam-breeds drifting creatures like Travis, people who can gain recognition only through acts of violence? Surely, the fact that he is a Vietnam veteran is not coincidental?
To which Scorsese responds:
That’s all in the movie, and I agree changes should be made in the American social structure. But in order to bring about change, you have to start by understanding individual characters. You begin by going into a microcosm. . . I always start with a person, not a statement.
Schrader seems to be in disagreement with Scorsese in this regard, discounting any larger cultural motivations as being responsible for Bickle’s psychology. In Brady, 1981, p. 303, he goes on to say that “[Travis] was choosing to be a misfit. Society had not wronged or harmed him.”
In Richard Thompson, “Screen Writer, Taxi Driver‘s Paul Schrader” (interview), Film Comment, March-April 1976, p. 13, Schrader says, “When I first saw the film Marty [Scorsese] and I had a talk about it; he ended up having an attack, screaming, accusing me of not knowing what the movie was about and of being against him.”
4. Quoted in Ian Christie and David Thompson (ed.), Scorsese on Scorsese, London, Faber and Faber, 2003, p. 62.
5. Quoted in Goldstein and Jacobson, reprinted in Brunette, 1999, p. 61. Scorsese says, “He was in the Special Forces, in the marines. You only get that by watching the kind of knife Travis is using at the end. It’s called a K-bar [sic]. Only Special Forces use it.” Scorsese correctly identifies the knife as a KA- BAR, but incorrectly ascribes it as tell-tale evidence of Bickle’s involvement in the Special Forces.
In Vietnam, the Marines did not have ‘Special Forces’ in the same sense that the Army had Rangers and the Navy its SEALS. Rather, the Marines’ elite forces consisted of Force Recon Companies, which were special units attached to, but separate from, regular Division-strength Marine detachments. These Force Recon companies did reconnaissance work ahead of the main amphibious unit. See Patrick A. Rogers, “Strong Men Armed, the Marine Corps 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, Part I”, The Accurate Rifle, vol. 3, no. 12, January 2000, no pagination, available at http://www.forcerecon.com/strongmenarmed.htm.
Scorsese’s mistake about the knife is apparently a common one. See Frank Trzaska’s “Knife knotes part II” at http://www.usmilitaryknives.com/knife_knotes_2.htm: “Who called the knife [the KA-BAR] a Force Recon knife to begin with? Stopping it now is like standing in front of a moving truck on the highway, you just don’t stand a chance.”
Rogers, Part III, April-May2000, no pagination, available at http://www.forcerecon.com/strongmenarmed3.htm. Rogers, “There is no ‘official Force Recon Knife’… The standard issue knife is the MK 2 ‘Ka-Bar’… It is the same knife that is issued to every Marine not armed with a rifle.”
For a brief historical timeline of KA-BAR knives, refer to the manufacturer’s website: https://www.kabar.com/history.jsp.
We know that Travis was in the Marines. From the knife’s intended significance, and the filmmakers’ further intention of Travis having served in the Special Forces, we thus know that Travis served as a Force Recon Marine.
Training would have included regular training as a rifleman, then the Basic Recon Course, and in Travis’ case, Airborne training. See the “Recon FAQ” of the United States Marine Corps Force Recon Association, available at http://www.forcerecon.com/reconfaq.htm. The best evidence for Bickle having been in the Special Forces in addition to his fighting stance and the filmmaker’s stated intention are Travis’ jump wing patch, and the Mohawk he gives himself. Only a relatively small number of Marines had the distinction of earning jump wings in Vietnam, as Marines have no fixed-wing aircraft from which to make parachute jumps. And although it was a routine matter in the pre-war peacetime, parachuting was not used in combat by the Marines before Vietnam. See Chapter 9 “The Only Three Combat Jumps in Marine Corps History”, pp. 115-126 in Michael L. Lanning and Ray W. Stubbe, Inside Force Recon, Recon Marines in Vietnam, New York, Ivy Books, 1989, p. 115.
Also, the unit patch on Bickle’s Marines field jacket is a Company patch. Although a fictional unit, the fact that such a small unit has issued a patch underscores its elite status. As the Marines are a smaller organization than the Army, typically their shoulder patches are of the division, regimental, and battalion levels.
6. Martin Scorsese, in Making Taxi Driver (Laurent Bouzereau, 1999), a documentary included in the extras of the 1999 Region 1 Taxi Driver “Collector’s Edition” DVD, released by Columbia Tri-Star Home Video. Scorsese says:
Now the Mohawk is interesting. We had a friend of ours named Vic Magnotta… We went to NYU together, Vic and I, and then he was in Vietnam, special services or something, and we met with him doing some research on the film, and he talked about certain types of soldiers going into in the jungle, they’d cut their hair a certain way, looked like a Mohawk, he said, and you knew that that was a special situation – commando kind of situation, and people gave them wide berths.
Schrader also comments on this in similar terms in Brady, 1981, pp. 292-293:
Marty Scorsese and Bobby DeNiro interviewed an ex-Green Beret who told them if a Special Force member felt he was going to die, he would shave his head into a Mohawk as a warning to his fellow soldiers. What he meant was ‘Don’t fuck with me. I’m going over the hill.’
7. Many stories of World War II airborne troops’ use of Mohawks center on the so-called “Filthy 13”, a self-styled elite group within the 101st Airborne. This is presumably because they were photographed during D-Day preparations by the Army’s Stars and Stripes newspaper. The photo of the group displaying their Mohawks is from the cover of a general study of the group, Richard Killblane and Jake McNiece, The Filthy 13: From the Dustbowl to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest: The 101st Airborne’s Most Legendary Squad of Combat Paratroopers, Haverton, PA., Casemate, 2003.
Interestingly, this group was apparently the loose inspiration for the film The Dirty Dozen, but their now famous cry and American-Indian-inspired “war paint” were for their part apparently derived from the 1939 film Geronimo. See http://www.b-westerns.com/geronimo.htm.
It is undoubtedly true that the adoption of Mohawks was more widespread than the “Filthy 13” though, as revealed, for instance, by the excerpt from the oral history of paratrooper Thomas Hashway, of the 17th Airborne Division. See http://www.battleshipcove.org/oralhistory/exhibit2/vexmain2.htm.
For a photo of Vietnam-era Mohawks, see Paul Owen’s photo “Bathers” at http://www.vietvet.org/poimages.htm. Owen is a veteran of the Hawk Recon group, one of the Army’s L.R.R.P.s, the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, which became the Army Rangers.
8. It is worth noting that the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and My Lai were anticipated by American activities in the Philippine Insurrection, a continuation of the Spanish-American War in which the Philippines was subjugated after the defeat of the Spanish. On the island of Luzon, General J. Franklin Bell ordered 100,000 civilians in the Batangas province to be put into concentration camps. It is unknown how many died or how. Concentration camps were also ordered on Samar Island, which General Jacob Smith ordered reduced to a “howling wilderness.” See William R. Everdell, The First Moderns, Chicago and London, University of Chicago, 1997, pp. 122-123.
In order to compel them, Filipinos were tortured with the “water cure” technique, learned from the Macabebe minority, and thought to have originated with the earlier Spanish colonial rulers, who had employed it during the Inquisition. With the “cure”, water was poured down a man’s throat until he became swollen, and then pressed out of him. See Daniel B. Schirmer, Republic or Empire, American Resistance to the Philippine War, Cambridge, MA., Schenkman Publishing, 1972, pp. 227-228. General Bell, returning to America from his charge of Luzon reported that approximately 600,000 Filipinos died on that island alone as a result of the war, the famine it brought about, and the disease caused in turn. See Schirmer, 1972, p. 231.
These incidents typified what General Arthur McArthur, Military Governor of the Philippines, euphemistically referred to as the “very drastic measures” being utilized to assure victory. See Schirmer, 1972, p. 227. President Roosevelt, after ordering General Smith’s court martial, sent General Bell a telegram congratulating him for his efforts in Batangas. See Schirmer, 1972, p. 239.
William Howard Taft, who became Theodore Roosevelt’s handpicked successor as president, and was first American Governor-General of the Philippines, patronizingly referred to Filipinos as “our little brown brothers.” This was in keeping with President McKinley’s revelation that he felt it America’s duty teach the Filipino people how to govern themselves, as “they were unfit for self-government-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s”, and further to “educate, uplift and civilize and Christianize them”, never mind that the Filipinos were already predominantly Catholic. This is widely quoted, as in Delia Kuhn and Ferdinand Kuhn, The Philippines, Yesterday and Today, New York, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1966, p. 93.
9. E. B. Potter (ed.), Sea Power, A Naval History, Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, p. 160.
10. Peggy and Harold Samuels, Remembering the Maine, Washington DC and London, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, pp. 229-234. The chapter titled “Declaration of War” describes in detail the impact of the Maine’s sinking. On page 232, they write, “After the Sampson report [investigating the Maine’s sinking] had been published in March 1898, war was said to be unavoidable because ‘not one American in 10,000 will admit the possibility of an accident’ on the Maine.” Then on page 233:
Ten years later the allegedly reprehensible role of the Spaniards in the Maine disaster was down-played in favor of blander reasons applicable to any foreign involvement. . . A dawning awareness of the absence of any true menace to the peace and safety of the United States, though, signified that there had been no moral justification for the war.”
Edwin E. Moise, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, Chapel Hill and London, University of North Carolina Press, 1996, pp. 203-207. This section contains a concise summary of Moise’s findings. Of chief relevance herein, he concludes that the incident, a purported North Vietnamese attack on an American destroyer (one of two which were said to have occurred within a span of four days) that ultimately motivated Congressional action to escalate the war, although probably not deliberately faked, likely did not occur.
11. Howard Zinn, Preface to Schirmer, 1972, p. x.
12. Since the events subsequent to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the description of America as “the new Rome” has become commonplace. But even before, the term was gaining currency, as can be seen, for example, in Charles Sable, “An Unlikely Democracy: the US at the Millennium”, Paper presented at Columbia Law School, November 1999, cited in Jan Harvey, “The New Rome?”, Legal Week Global, November 19, 2002, unpaginated. Sabel states, “The US begins the new millennium looking for all the world like a new Rome: only grander and more authoritative than the original.” See also Charles Krauthammer, “The Bush Doctrine, In American foreign policy, a new motto: Don’t ask. Tell”, Time, March 5, 2001, p. 42. Krauthammer writes:
America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.
13. See Taxi Driver (“Collector’s Edition” DVD), “Photo Montage/Portrait Gallery” section of the Special Features, 1999, Columbia Tri-Star Home Video, which has the DVD’s producer Laurent Bouzereau in voice-over relate his conversation with Paul Schrader, in which Schrader describes the meaning of each character name. Bouzereau quotes,”Palantine came from the Palatine hill in Rome and the idea of an older world, an ancient culture, which has been destroyed.”
This is apparently the only place where Schrader goes into such detail about the naming of Taxi Driver’s characters, although he does talk in other places of his general methods. Schrader is quoted in Kevin Jackson (ed.), 1990, p. 153. Jackson asks if he often gives characters symbolic names. Schrader says “Yes, and I still try to.” In Brady, 1981, p. 299, Schrader confirms that there are no accidents in the naming of his principal characters.
14. Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver (screenplay), London, New York, Faber and Faber, 1990, p. 10. Betsy’s character is introduced with the description, “Simple pose and status do not impress her; she seeks out the extraordinary qualities in men. She is, in other words, a star-fucker of the highest order.” Her attraction to Palatine is made obvious in the film with the following dialogue between Betsy and Tom:
BETSY: Senator Palantine is a dynamic man, an
intelligent, interesting, fresh, fascinating. . .
TOM: You forgot ‘sexy’.
BETSY: man. I did not forget ‘sexy’.
Schrader himself encourages a psychological interpretation of Bickle’s actions. In Brady, 1981, p. 306, Schrader says, “[Bickle wants to kill Palantine] Because Palantine represents a man who is at ease. . . He hates men who are relaxed with women. Because they are the one thing he cannot be. So it doesn’t have anything to do with politics, it has to do with sexuality.”
15. Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1995, p. 108. The navy’s official figure of 260 dead does not include seven who later died as a result of injuries suffered in the sinking.
16. W. A. Swanberg, Citizen Hearst, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, pp. 101-149. This is a traditional study of Hearst including an emphasis on his role in the incitement of the war. Included is the well-known story of Hearst instructing artist-correspondent Frederick Remington, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war” (pp. 107-108). This was the basis for the scene in Citizen Kane, which was, of course, primarily based upon the events of Hearst’s life. Incidentally, Taxi Driver contains several references to Citizen Kane. For more on these references, see John Thurman, “Citizen Bickle, or the Allusive Taxi Driver: Uses of Intertextuality,” Senses of Cinema, Issue 37, October-December 2005. http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/37/taxi_driver.html
Kenneth E. Hendrickson Jr., The Spanish-American War, Westport, CT and London, Greenwood Press, 2003, p. 7. This study also mentions the role of the yellow press in inflaming public opinion, while passing along the Remington story.
W. Joseph Campbell, Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the myths, defining the legacies, Westport, CT and London, Praeger, 2001. This revisionist study includes much on the role of the yellow press in the time preceding the war. Chapter 3 is devoted to an attempt at debunking the Remington-Hearst story, while Chapter 4 attempts to refute the popular perception of the yellow press having fomented the war.
17. E. B. Potter (ed.), Sea Power: A Naval History, Annapolis, MD, United States Naval Institute, 1981, pp. 162-163, 187. Mahan was president of the Naval War College, and his 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power upon History traced the concomitant rise of trading empires with the growth of their naval power. His work was also influential with Henry Cabot Lodge, chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, and among British, German, and Japanese imperialists who were then engaged in their own ambitious neo-colonialism and the naval arms race that accompanied it.
18. Harold Samuels, and Peggy Samuels, 1995, p. 281.
19. Josef Vincent Lombardo, Attilio Piccirilli, Life of an American Sculptor, New York and Chicago, Pittman Publishing Company, 1944, pp. 115-134. Chapter IV includes an extensive discussion of the Maine monument.
The Columbus Circle monument was one of the most sought-after commissions of the time. Forty-seven renowned sculptors submitted proposals. The winner was Attilio Piccirilli, one six sculptor brothers. See Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1995, p. 281.
Their commissions include the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Square Arch, and the lions of the New York public library. See Andrew Ragouzeos, “Boroughwide News: exhibit and signage to commemorate renowned Mott Haven sculptors”, Bronx Times Reporter, July 24, 2003, unpaginated, contained in: