In Command: Theodore Roosevelt and the American Military

Matthew Oyos. Potomac, $36.95 (456p) ISBN 978-1-61234-967-1
Oyos, a Radford University history professor, delivers a convincing portrait of Theodore Roosevelt as a feisty war hero turned chief executive—first as New York governor and then as the 26th president. Roosevelt, he argues, was looking for a war to cement his personal and political goals as well as his Victorian notions of military valor. He found one in 1898 in Cuba, when the battleship U.S.S. Maine blew up in the Havana harbor, sparking the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt, who had already served as assistant secretary of the Navy, made his name dispatching the Spanish with bluster at the head of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, popularly known as the Rough Riders. His enthusiasm for the military cemented his role as a modernizer of U.S. forces, and Oyos displays an impressive command of the details of Roosevelt’s zeal and curiosity, especially when it came to naval affairs, updating the armament, improving military administration with revolutionary ideas (such as promoting officers based on merit rather than connections), and new types of training designed to bring the American Armed Forces up to the standard of European armies. Oyos also takes stock of Roosevelt’s missteps, including his disgraceful treatment of African-American soldiers after the 1906 Brownsville, Tex., riot. Roosevelt buffs and hardcore fans of 20th-century military history will sink their teeth into this. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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