Author and journalist Richard Harding Davis, one of the most popular newspaper writers and novelists at the turn of the 20th century, may well be the source of the image of the dashing war correspondent. He represented the growing power of the press as the mass media’s influence was expanding, and this controversial 1898 book is an early example of the manipulative power of the press. Dispatched by William Randolph Hearst to cover the guerilla war in Cuba for Hearst’s newspaper the New York Journal, Davis filed vibrant, dramatic reports that may have brought the United States into the conflict, launching the Spanish-American War. Gathered in this book, and illustrated by Frederic Remington, is Davis’s account of war-torn Cuba: muscular, adventurous prose about a dangerous time and place filled with a passion that infected his readers and may have changed the course of international affairs.
When the revolution broke out in Cuba two years ago, the Spaniards at once began to build tiny forts, and continued to add to these and improve those already built, until now the whole island, which is eight hundred miles long and averages eighty miles in width, is studded as thickly with these little forts as is the sole of a brogan with iron nails. It is necessary to keep the fact of the existence of these forts in mind in order to understand the situation in Cuba at the present time, as they illustrate the Spanish plan of campaign, and explain why the war has dragged on for so long, and why it may continue indefinitely.
The last revolution was organized by the aristocrats; the present one is a revolution of the puebleo, and, while the principal Cuban families are again among the leaders, with them now are the representatives of the “plain people,” and the cause is now a common cause in working for the success of which all classes of Cubans are desperately in earnest.