cover image the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

Clay Risen. Scribner, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4399-1

In this well-constructed account of future president Theodore Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders,” officially known as the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, journalist Risen argues that the “American Century” began not in 1900, but two years earlier. Between April and July 1898, the United States government annexed the Hawaiian archipelago, while its army and navy defeated those of Spain and seized Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Roosevelt’s role in the invasion of Cuba, and especially his unit’s famous charge up San Juan Hill, made him a national hero, leading him first into the governor’s mansion of New York State and not long afterward into the White House. Risen also focuses on the Rough Riders, volunteers who “set aside families, careers, wealth, and celebrity to fight and die for something other than themselves.” Many came from the region their fellow Americans romanticized as the “Wild West”; as the frontier era drew to an end, the national press endlessly hyped the “cowboys” who seemed destined to prove the New World’s superiority over the old. Risen’s lively and extensively researched social history illuminates a transformative moment in America’s past. [em]Agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Talent. (June) [/em]