Saturday, April 20, 2013

Less than imperial

History re-writer, Peter Bowen tells of Luther "Imperial" Kelly in this story.

The  USS Maine has been blown up in Cuba and Teddy Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy, orders Kelly to lead a recruitment program to get men who will follow Roosevelt as his "Rough Riders."

Kelly travels to the west and the recruitment goes very well. However, most of the men he recruits are gunslingers or cowboy roustabouts not use to following orders. Included in the recruits are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Kelly's adventures follow fast and furiously.  He's ordered by Roosevelt, to gather information on the Spanish troop strengths and later, helps Teddy at San Juan Hill where most of Roosevelt's gang refuse to follow him and Kelly comes to the rescue.

Thereafter, Kelly is ordered to Cape Town to observe the Boer War. He meets an old friend, Winston Churchill who is there as a correspondent. Later, Kelly travels to China and the Philippines where he enters a romantic relationship.

The action is fast paced but reads more like a comic book than a novel. Kelly is a character without depth and has little to like.

I wasn't drawn to the story and other than seeing a different look at  history, I found it hard to finish.

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