The first definitive account of this legendary fighting force and its extraordinary leader, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Lee Gardner's Rough Riders is narrative nonfiction at its most invigorating and compulsively readable. Its dramatic unfolding of a familiar, yet not-fully-known story will remind readers of James Swanson's Manhunt.Read more...
The first definitive account of this legendary fighting force and its extraordinary leader, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Lee Gardner's Rough Riders is narrative nonfiction at its most invigorating and compulsively readable. Its dramatic unfolding of a familiar, yet not-fully-known story will remind readers of James Swanson's Manhunt.
Two months after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, Congress authorized President McKinley to recruit a volunteer army to drive the Spaniards from Cuba. From this army emerged the legendary "Rough Riders," a mounted regiment drawn from America's western territories and led by the indomitable Theodore Roosevelt. Its ranks included not only cowboys and other westerners, but several Ivy Leaguers and clubmen, many of them friends of "TR." Roosevelt and his men quickly came to symbolize American ruggedness, daring, and individualism. He led them to victory in the famed Battle at San Juan Hill, which made TR a national hero and cemented the Rough Riders' place in history.
Now, Mark Lee Gardner synthesizes previously unknown primary accounts as well as period newspaper articles, letters, and diaries from public and private archives in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Boston, and Washington, DC, to produce this authoritative chronicle. He breathes fresh life into the Rough Riders and pays tribute to their daring feats and indomitable leader. Gardner also explores lesser-known aspects of the story, including their relationship with the African-American "Buffalo Soldiers, with whom they fought side by side at San Juan Hill.
Rich with action, violence, camaraderie, and courage, Rough Riders sheds new light on the Theodore Roosevelt saga--and on one of the most thrilling chapters in American history.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Gardner (To Hell on a Fast Horse), a historian specializing in the American West, uses new primary sources to reintroduce the public to the Rough Riders of the Spanish-American War. Following the national uproar over the 1898 sinking of the USS Maine, President McKinley agrees to prepare for war in order to expel the Spanish from Cuba. McKinley's forces include a volunteer cavalry suggested by Theodore Roosevelt, who was then assistant secretary of the Navy. Gardner examines Roosevelt's notions of war's redeeming qualities in light of his sickly youth, his father's reluctance to fight in the Civil War, and the dual heartbreaks of his wife and mother dying within hours of each other in 1884. Once the military buildup was authorized by Congress, the press called the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry "Roosevelt's Rough Riders"—a motley unit made up of cowpunchers, Native American warriors, Ivy League athletes, sharpshooters, and assorted mavericks. Gardner provides some terrifying, exhilarating stories of the battle, including the valiant charge up San Juan Hill through enemy gunfire. Throughout, Gardner celebrates Roosevelt, who as a postwar commander-in-chief never forgot the lesson of war and the heroic sacrifices of the fighters. (May)