Van Atta adeptly links Roosevelt's deep immersion in Western American culture to his investment in American imperialism in a readable cultural and military history. Van Atta's efforts to shine a light on the stories Roosevelt failed to tell about the Spanish-American War make the monograph particularly valuable and give a sense that this is not merely another laudatory biography of T.R. Charging Up San Juan Hill's greatest strength is its innovative thinking about old questions of empire... [it] would work well in undergraduate courses on American military history or the Gilded Age and Progressive Era... The text should prove a worthy addition to the shelves of Western historians.
The strength of Van Atta's work is its brisk and engrossing narrative of the causes of the Spanish-American War; of the formation, actions, and meaning of the Rough Riders; and of the political benefits that Colonel Roosevelt reaped from serving... This approachable work will be well received in an undergraduate course as an engaging introduction to the cultural factors of the Spanish-American War and how masculine regeneration and American imperialism intersected.
Van Atta’s study of the ideological currents and contests of the Gilded Age sheds new light on the history of Theodore Roosevelt and the legendary exploits of his illustrious ‘cowboy’ regiment—the Rough Riders—who endured intense heat and privation in the Cuban wilderness to prove America’s mettle and manhood.
John Van Atta’s exciting narrative highlights the singular event that created the modern United States. Teddy Roosevelt’s heroic charge revived Manifest Destiny, put the United States on the world stage, and laid the groundwork for Roosevelt to become an imperialist president.
Charging Up San Juan Hill is not the militarily-focused account one might expect. Van Atta's book provides a fuller treatment of US involvement in the Spanish-American War, pondering the wider conceptual debates of the 1890s to provide valuable context for the conflict and those who played a role in it.
John R. Van Atta’s colorfully written and balanced saga of Theodore Roosevelt's 'Rough Riders' presents a convincing argument for the intersection of masculinity, nationalism, race, and the West in the decade of the Spanish-American War. More than a study of Roosevelt, it is a thoughtful examination of an evolving culture and the acceptance of global empire.
Prologue: Old Values, New Challenges
2 Jingo Doctrines
3 Teddy’s Terrors
4 Crowded Hour
5 New Empire
Epilogue: Eclipse of Old Heroes
Essay on Sources