I have known award-winning children’s author, Douglas Rees, for a long, long time. When Fuse Literary acquired the assets of Ambush Books, a publishing company that Doug and I founded three years ago, we were thrilled that four of his young adult historical fiction titles would once again shine in the spotlight. Doug is a teen librarian in San Jose, California. And when he was informed recently that kids don’t want to read historical fiction, he got angry. “If we don’t understand history we are doomed to repeat it,” he said. Then he wrote this: -Laurie
The WAR THAT WAS/THE WAR THAT WILL BE/THE WAR THAT IS
By Douglas Rees
Why write a book about the Spanish-American War, especially one aimed at teens? Because of how totally current it is. Today, the Middle East is full of young Americans slogging through mountain passes that deterred Alexander the Great, or risking their lives in semi-secret service on the plains of Iraq. Beyond these, there are over 400 overseas military posts in almost every corner of what we used to call “The Free World”. The majority of our young people, even if they are not in military service themselves, know someone who has been. Most often this is someone who is a veteran of the fighting in the Great War On Terrorism. (And Not At All For Oil.)
It goes straight back to 1898, to Manila Bay, San Juan Heights, and the coast of Santiago. In July of 1898, the United States was not an imperial nation. In December, it was. In between, in a hundred days of active conflict, at a cost of 365 battle deaths, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and title to the Philippines. It created a protectorate over Cuba, arrogating to itself the right to overthrow its government. To secure its Pacific dominions, it connived the takeover of Hawaii from some wealthy and seditious sugar planters who had overthrown the legitimate government. We were Imperial, with an imperial military. In 1898, the U.S. Army, such as it was, had no overseas garrisons. By 1901, it was fighting its way into the Forbidden City of Beijing.
It was a revolutionary change, and we today all live in the world it created. We rely on today’s young Americans to maintain it, and they will be stuck with the bill. It may be that some of them are wondering why. Gideon’s War is a book for them.
Gideon’s War, a previously unpublished historical novel about Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and the Spanish-American War, is out now from Teen Fuse. It joins three of Douglas Rees’ YA backlist titles: Smoking Mirror (a tale of Paul Gauguin in the South Seas), Lightning Time (a pre-Civil War story about the infamous John Brown), and The Janus Gate (a ghost story about a famous John Singer Sargent painting.) All are told from a teen’s point of view.