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In 1898, when war with Spain seemed inevitable, Andrew Summers Rowan, an American army lieutenant from West Virginia, was sent on a secret mission to Cuba. He was to meet with General Calixto García, a leader of the Cuban rebels, in order to gather information for a U.S. invasion. Months later, after the war was fought and won, a flamboyant entrepreneur named Elbert Hubbard wrote an account of Rowan’s mission titled “A Message to García.” It sold millions of copies, and Rowan became the equivalent of a modern-day rock star. His fame resulted in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows, and two movies. Even today he is held up as an exemplar of bravery and loyalty. The problem is that nothing Hubbard wrote about Rowan was true.
Donald Tunnicliff Rice reveals the facts behind the story of “A Message to García” while using Rowan’s biography as a window into the history of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine War, and the Moro Rebellion. The result is a compellingly written narrative containing many details never before published in any form, and also an accessible perspective on American diplomatic and military history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.