HISTORY

The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

Scribner. Jun. 2019. 368p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501143991. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781501144011. HIST
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Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders—hundreds of cowboys, toughs, sportsmen, and posh gents—campaigned in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Idealistic, casually racist, and over-the-top macho, these mostly white men shaped America’s idealistic, militaristic vision of itself in the 20th century. They paved the way for a century of U.S. interventions in the guise of toppling tyranny. The Rough Riders also make for a cracking good yarn. From all walks of life and across the nation, they volunteered to fight to liberate Cuba from Spanish colonial rule—or simply to enjoy a good scrap in a righteous cause. Mustered in as the first U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders survived hunger, malaria, and bureaucratic ineptitude. They defeated the Spanish at the Battle of San Juan Hill, in a charge immortalized by American painter Frederic Remington. Their charismatic commander, Theodore Roosevelt, later became U.S. president. Modeling what Risen (deputy op-ed editor, New York Times) terms guts and gumption—plus distinctly toxic masculinity—the Rough Riders ushered in what publisher Henry Luce proclaimed the American Century.
VERDICT A sympathetic, journalistic account of an unruly band of brothers whose 45 days of fighting in Cuba changed the world.

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