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Our next selection was originally filed by our anonymous NYT editor under “History, Biography, and Memoirs,” and it's a real humdinger, buddy...

The Rough Riders. Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel First Volunteers, United States Army. New York: Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons. 8vo. $2.

It is unnecessary to recapitulate the reasons why this is the most interesting account of the American Invasion of Cuba, for no one aware of that achievement is ignorant of the part taken by the present Governor of New York and the regiment of which the close of the war found him commander. What no one can know without reading it is the extraordinary skill with which the narrator eludes the danger of being ostentatiously modest and of boasting either on his own behalf or on his men's, and writes as the infant talked to Eustace Cleaver, “telling this thing just as it was,” because he feels that his country desires to know it. The book is illustrated with forty full-page pictures from photographs, and has two portraits of the author. The other pictures, excellent though they are, will not be needed by those who fight the battles o'er again under Col. Roosevelt's command. Complete lists of the officers and men of the regiment are to be found in the appendices, also some much needed corrections of the narratives given by civilians, and comment by officers present in Cuba, and the text contains some matter not published in Scribner's Magazine, where the book first appeared.

The Rough Riders is our first brush with recognizable (then-) current events in the Project, and brings to the signature event of not only the previous year but possibly of America's post-Civil War foreign policy up to that point. We also hit an anniversary I could've tied this to if I hadn't been so busy with the misery porn of Waters That Pass Away. On August 12, 1898, 110 years ago this month, hostilities were halted in the Spanish-American War, the so-called “splendid little war” that effectively marked the end of the Spanish Empire and warmed up the band for the American Century. (You can safely assume that all I know about this conflict is what I saw on the History Channel, by the way.) The problem here is that, with it still being so fresh, we have more than a few non-fiction books on the list that touch on the conflict in one way or another, even a history of the recently claimed territories with the not too reassuring title of Our Island Empire. So what am I supposed to do? Read the background first or throw ourselves into events? I'm an American, Jack, so the answer is obvious: throw myself into the conquest first and then figure out what the hell's been conquered (and why) later.

In Roosevelt, we finally have an author who truly needs no introduction, so I'll just remind you that in the years immediately leading up to the events in the book he was busy living a life that befits a legend-in-the-making and being Batman. Theodore R. had recently topped off a blockbuster return to public life after spending several years getting his head together out west, first by becoming president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners and bringing a zealous spirit of reform to the NYPD, even going so far as to walk late-night and early morning beats to be sure the patrolmen were actually on duty. He followed this up with an appointment as William McKinley's Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and helped build up the country's sea power on the theory that a nation with global interests needed a modern navy. (Also on his personal belief that we probably needed a war to prevent cranking out a rising generation of callow wimps (you can look it up), but that's just a sidebar to the main show.)

Since I assume you already know how this story ends, I don't feel as compelled to use the spoiler tag. Not that anyone's paying attention to those, of course... I also probably won't be obsessively recapping every section this time, just touching on the points that jumped out at me. Or maybe I will go nuts again. We'll feel it out as we go along. Whatever keeps things moving...

As for the text itself, there are so many options here:

  • Google Books has multiple options for PDF and page-scan fans, and as usual, the page numbers will be from the Scribner's first US edition (complete with fancy-schmancy photographs).

  • Project Gutenberg only gives us a plain ASCII and PDA-compatible version this time, so for a shiny HTML edition (with the aforementioned fancy-schmancy photos), you have to go to

In a perfect world, I'd also be able to link to the serialized version that started in the January 1899 edition of Scribner's Magazine, but for some reason, the otherwise excellent Making of America archive at Cornell comes up a few years short, so you'll just have to settle for Charles Dana Gibson's manly and rugged portrait that accompanied the first installment. Poor you.

(Edit @ 11:24pm: Spoke too soon, because Google has my back on this one, too. Here are the installments from January, February, March, April (which is marred by The Monkey's, scanner's hand...on a few pages. Don't make a wish on it, just to be safe....), May, and June 1899. Regardless, I'm still working from the book for the "exclusive" material.)

Stay tuned, lit fans...we're charging the hill soon.

And once again, links to the Chapter Recaps (chock full of spoilers, links go live as they're posted): Chapters 1 (parts 1, 2, 3) , 2 (parts 1, 2), 3 (parts 1, 2, 3), 4 (parts 1, 2, 3), 5 (part 1, 2, 3), 6 (part 1, 2), and post-game.


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