MANIFEST DESTINY by Brian Garfield


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The truth-in-advertising people would be pleased by the subtitle that old pro Garfield has given his latest: ""The True Romantic Saga of Young Theodore Roosevelt's Adventures in the Wild West."" Reeling from misfortunes political (his precipitous decline in the Republican Party) and personal (the deaths of his mother and wife), the 26-year-old Roosevelt (a man ""you would have to hate. . .a whole lot to keep from loving"") returns to a place he had visited in joy only a year earlier--the Badlands, where he had won a reputation as a mediocre but enthusiastic hunter--determined to put his political career behind him. But his indignation at the bullying tactics of the megalomaniac capitalist-rancher the Marquis de Mores--who's trying to scare off his less well-heeled rivals so that he can consolidate a fortune sufficient to enforce his claim to the throne of France--and the pressure of friends like cowboy-turned-storekeeper Joe Ferris, rancher A.C. Huidekoper, and de Mores' range foreman, Johnny Goodall, push him back into the political arena as chairman of the Little Missouri Stockmen's Association and leader of the fight against de Mores. Roosevelt eventually accepts a challenge to duel de Mores, but not before adventures with buffalo, Indians, a lynching gang, a cattle drive, a friend turned thief, and a court of law have shown the contradictory stuff the young dude is made of. In a prefatory note and a postscript, Garfield assures us that virtually every character existed and every incident is true--and that's just the trouble: the story often has the exasperating inconclusiveness of real life; Roosevelt often remains on the sidelines of minor characters' stories: and all Garfield's many characters, even the colorful Roosevelt, remain dim invocations of the past.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 1989
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine