YELLOW by Daniel Lynch


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 On his deathbed in a Mexican bordello, Ambrose Bierce recalls the journalistic instigation of the Spanish-American War as told to him by Frederic Remington--in a sixth novel from Lynch (Brennan's Point, 1988, etc.) The title here refers to the entertaining but wildly irresponsible form of popular 1890's journalism practiced by Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal as the two slugged it out for the city's top circulation figures, manipulating US foreign policy to suit their growth strategies. In company with Richard Harding Davis and in the employ of the young Mr. Hearst, already famed artist Frederic Remington sails to Cuba to record the presentation of a ceremonial sword to General Gomez, the leader of the faltering Cuban insurrection. The Hearst yacht also carries menacing, cynical guerrilla Jorge Gonzales, his fatalistic cohorts, and tons of weapons to keep the war alive for the benefit of Journal readers. Eluding Spanish gunboats, Remington, Davis, guerrillas, and guns put ashore and forge inland to join the rebels. The Americans learn much about the dark side of Cuban geography and popular uprisings. Mosquitoes and Spanish patrols make life miserable until they reach General Gomez's secret mountain camp, where a sensationally beautiful young rebel makes life rather more pleasant, at least for Mr. Remington. Reports sent back to the Journal are sensationally well received until the team is captured by the Spanish, who then have a chance to tell their side of the story. From then on, the observations cease to fit Mr. Hearst's idea of how the insurrection should progress. In Havana, Davis meets and falls for yet another gorgeous rebel. These adventures are all recalled by Ambrose Bierce, who wasn't there, but who got highly detailed letters from his pal Remington. Teddy Roosevelt has a cameo role. Curiously unrousing. Remington's gentility and Bierce's death agony seem to throw a blanket over things.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1992
ISBN: 0-8027-1226-6
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1992