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The Crowded Hour

Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

Read by Fred Sanders

The “gripping” (The Washington Post) story of the most famous regiment in American history: the Rough Riders, a motley group of soldiers led by Theodore Roosevelt, whose daring exploits marked the beginning of American imperialism in the 20th century.

When America declared war on Spain in 1898, the US Army had just 26,000 men, spread around the country—hardly an army at all. In desperation, the Rough Riders were born. A unique group of volunteers, ranging from Ivy League athletes to Arizona cowboys and led by Theodore Roosevelt, they helped secure victory in Cuba in a series of gripping, bloody fights across the island. Roosevelt called their charge in the Battle of San Juan Hill his “crowded hour”—a turning point in his life, one that led directly to the White House. “The instant I received the order,” wrote Roosevelt, “I sprang on my horse and then my ‘crowded hour’ began.” As The Crowded Hour reveals, it was a turning point for America as well, uniting the country and ushering in a new era of global power. “A revelatory history of America’s grasp for power” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Both a portrait of these men, few of whom were traditional soldiers, and of the Spanish-American War itself, The Crowded Hour dives deep into the daily lives and struggles of Roosevelt and his regiment. Using diaries, letters, and memoirs, Risen illuminates an influential moment in American history: a war of only six months’ time that dramatically altered the United States’ standing in the world. “Fast-paced, carefully researched…Risen is a gifted storyteller who brings context to the chaos of war. The Crowded Hour feels like the best type of war reporting—told with a clarity that takes nothing away from the horrors of the battlefield” (The New York Times Book Review).

Photograph by George Scott

Clay Risen is the deputy op-ed editor at The New York Times and the award-nominated author of The Crowded Hour; Single Malt: A Guide to the Whiskies of Scotland; The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act; the bestselling American Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit; and A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

"Narrator Fred Sanders makes the audiobook welcoming for both casual listeners who are interested in one of the adventures that set this country on its path to becoming a world power and those who seek an in-depth look at Theodore Roosevelt and the Spanish-American War. Sanders delivers the work in an authoritative tone. . . . pauses effectively to keep the story interesting, pronounces the Spanish words with an appropriate accent, and paces himself well."

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this reader: Fred Sanders

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