Sunday, August 23, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century by Clay Risen

 Every once in a while I get an urge to pad some of the many gaps in my historical education. One of these gaps is the Spanish-American War. Buzz words I remember are “yellow journalism” and “Remember the Maine.” After reading the novel Hunting Teddy Roosevelt I wanted to learn more about Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. What was that all about?

The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century by Clay Risen, published last year to some critical acclaim, was just the book to bring me up to speed. Roosevelt is the star of the show, but this is more than just a time-limited biography of the man. It’s a more inclusive look at the factors leading to the war and an explanation of how Roosevelt played the out-sized role that he did. The account of the war itself is very detailed and other prominent Rough Riders are also featured. 

The book’s focus is narrow. It doesn’t delve into what else is going on in the U.S. or the world at the time, but it gives enough of an overview to provide context. It does exactly what it needs to do to explain the Spanish-American War to someone whose knowledge of it was far too superficial.